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Home: Dubai Film Festival 2004: Day 2: In This World

The young protagonists featured in Michael Winterbottom’s moving ‘In this world’, are no different that some of the tribal children I have seen working on the streets of Karachi. These are kids who wash other people’s cars and carry heavy loaded bags for them while they shop in weekend bazaars. Winterbottom’s film is profound not only because it shows us that these refugees have the will, determination and consciousness to strive for a better life but also because it effectively puts us within their midst and takes us on a harrowing travelogue showing us exactly what its like to be packaged in an attempt to traffic humans.

Shot exquisitely using high definition digital video the visuals capture everything from the grimy edginess of a NWFP camp in Pakistan, where the story begins, to the risky nighttime border crossing between Iran and Turkey. The two young Afghan adults who attempt to make the brave transition are the na´ve, uncertain Inayatullah and the chirpier, sharper Jamal. Together, living as refugees in their camp with their families, they face a dull and uncertain existence. They pledge allegiance to no one. For them identity is a skin that can be shed for well-being, thus it is easy for their families to decide that it is worth the risk and cost of having them transported across the vast region of land between Pakistan to London, a place where they hope to eventually live a more meaningful and financially rewarding life.

Their physically arduous and mentally taxing trip commences after payments have been made and an animal has been sacrificed. They venture across the unforgiving streets of Quetta to dubious settings in Iran, where they are caught and sent back to Pakistan, only to have them start the entire journey all over again. In doing so, we witness the ardent determination of these two, who hope for better things but carry with them a weight and burden reflected in their sad, mournful eyes. Along their way the younger Jamal teaches the older Inayatuallah what little English he knows, consisting of counting numbers and basic conversational sentences. Human beings that they encounter either become a source of threat or pillar of support.

he characters make simple, brisk conversations, some of which is lost by the imperfect subtitling and the drama never really delves into any of their initial motivations, perhaps assuming that given their present circumstances, it would be obvious why they embark on their lengthy passage. Still, this is a wonderfully slice of life carefully captured and hauntingly put together with great technique and the help of a rousing score by Dario Marianelli. An astounding look at human perseverance that is moving and mesmerizing in its simplicity, it is certain to leave a lasting impact. - by Faizan Rashid [Rated 4.5 out of 5]

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