In This World

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah
Director: Michael Winterbottom

Berlin Film Festival’s theme this year was ‘towards tolerance’ – and it was no surprise that Michael Winterbottom’s IN THIS WORLD was up there with the best of the films on this subject for the Golden Bear. He went on to win the award with this documentary film following two Afghans refugees on their journey to London. The two were chosen at random. 12 year old orphan Jamal and his older cousin Enayatullah set out on their journey in spring 2002 with Winterbottom and a hand held camera and made their way overland through Pakistan, Iran (twice), Turkey, Italy and France – at the infamous Sangatte – before reaching London. As you would expect they meet all kinds of hostile environments and people, but are touched by the kindness of some they meet on the way. Jamal certainly never loses his sense of humour, and keeps his cousin entertained with the odd English lesson and amusing anecdote.

What is strange is thinking what role the filmmakers had in all of this. Enayatullah in the film never completes the journey, but in real life he used the money he was paid to buy a truck which he now uses to drive goods between Kabul and Peshawar. Jamal in contrast went on to make the journey again on his own for real – without a film crew – and is now living life in London as an asylum seeker.

This film is important in that it shows how arduous the journey is for many people seeking a better life – for economic or political reasons. It’s all an accident of birth the quality of life you receive. The disjointed style and filmed effects add to the bewilderment of life hidden behind fruit crates in lorries, and being starved of a voice or light for days on end. However the use of mood music and the strange relationship between drama and documentary removed some of the power of this film for me.

4 out of 6 stars