Europe Divided on Action with the Refugee Question Looming
Since 2015 Europe has been divided in finding a response to the refugee crisis. Temporary camps endure and migrant vessels continue to capsize in the Mediterranean as the Europeans struggle to find a solution or compromise.
At the core of this stalemate, is a fundamental disagreement in what it means to be European. As some welcome Europe’s newest residents, others look to nativism and believe their culture is at risk.
Babel, takes a deep dive into these divided lines to tell the stories of the refugees, those working to welcome them into European society, as well as those marching to bid them farewell.
DIRECTOR Q&A | MASSIMO FERRARI
What attracted you to the story of Babel?
I was attracted by the possibility of telling a serious and urgent theme such as that of the refugee crisis. It seems to be the main theme of European elections; the topic around which the political parties create a huge debate to win or lose consensus among the electors. I wanted to deal with the problem by exploring different points of view: the problem is real but we must find a solution. In the documentary different solutions or reactions are examined: on one side we tell the stories of people who had the courage to transform fear into opportunity and utopia into reality by creating successful welcoming models to reach a possible integration; on the other side we also wanted to explore the feeling of those who are afraid of massive migration and its bad management by politicians and administrations and answered to this fear with extreme reactions.
Why was it important to tell this story?
It’s important to tell this story in order to understand and interpret our times. My task is to search for new points of views, promote reflection to avoid to be run over by information and news without reflecting on the stories and the people involved in it. We might be living in a sort of “Babel”, then we must try to understand the different languages, deepen the knowledge of difficult themes, give a name to people who risks being reduced to numbers or articles in the newspaper or television.
What should we know about your filmmaking process?
When I start to film a documentary, a real creative and exploratory process begins. I begin with an idea, with some coordinates but time after time I tend to leave space to people I meet and their stories. A movie, a documentary, is always a work in progress, and in the end you never know if it’s you who led the game or the film who guided you. The result is the sum of many things that happen before, during and after the filming.
Did you make any unexpected discoveries while shooting?
This happens always. In this case I had the chance to be amazed by the stories and the people I met. For example, while we were filming in the home of the Italian family who welcomed six refugees, we find out that Antonio, the father, was going to be awarded by the President of the Italian Republic, so we went to the Quirinale to film the Official Ceremony.
What do you hope your documentary will achieve?
I wish to awake the conscience on this historical phenomenon. I hope that the documentary will give some tools to understand this situation better and try to find a good solution. A famous Chinese proverb says: “When the winds of change blows, some build walls some build windmills.” The documentary shows different reactions to the “wind.” We can know them both and maybe choose what to do and what to do not, trying not to be overwhelmed by the wind.
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