Undocument describes so much human misery that it’s hard to watch – but we must.
Road to Nowhereby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Undocument is four episodes in the lives of asylum seekers, at different stages in their journey from their homelands to the UK, directed by Amin Bakhshian and Kyla Simone Bruce. Told without explanations, the stories are so naturalistically set and acted that they could be fly-on-the-wall documentaries.
First we experience the life of a Afghani wife (Maryam Davari), just arrived in Iran, who is trying to find an illegal route into Europe to join her husband there. The few days she spends in Iran, her fear and the dramatically contrasting responses of the men and women she depends on for help are haunting.
As we leave Iran without further explanation, the film switches to Greece, to a dilapidated holding-flat where a young Syrian boy, Parsa (Parsa Bahadori), is being held with his mother and other asylum seekers until traffickers move them on into Europe – they hope. Under these fearful conditions, he is having to grow up.
In the UK now, an Algerian (Nabil Elouahabi) has been living as a family for years with a Polish woman and her daughter – until his visa runs out.
Still in the UK, though the eyes of an Arabic-language interpreter (Ako Ali) we see the immigration appeals system as it grinds impersonally though an individual case – but it’s a situation where unreliable technology can be an enemy of humanity and excessive neutrality is actually hostile.
These powerful, moving stories give human faces to the undocumented people who are so desperate that they will accept any dangers to find a better life in another country. But the answers to their plight should not lie in trafficking.