Les Unwanted de Europa: The exiled
by Alfonso Rivera
- Fabrizio Ferraro's fifth film, co-produced with Spain, acts as a poetic reconstruction of past exoduses that still resonate in the present day
Diaspora, exile and a need to flee are unfortunately topics that are still greatly relevant in modern times, splashed all over the front pages of our newspapers. Wars, dictatorships and uncertain futures force far too many people to embark on journeys to distant lands, in the hope of living dignified lives. But to do so requires research, secrecy, risk, fear, danger and exhaustion. These journeys are the common thread that weaves its way through Italian director Fabrizio Ferraro’s fifth film, Les Unwanted de Europa [+see also:
film profile], marking a return to production for the Spanish producer Lluis Miñarro (read the article here), and screened in the Perspectives - A History of Shadows section at International Film Festival Rotterdam Festival on 26 January.
Shadows are essential to the narrative in this beautiful and eloquent black and white film, helping us to understand the dark disorientation of the characters on either side of the Franco-Spanish border, hoping to find salvation on the horizon. On the Spanish side, republicans flee Franco. On the French side, citizens flee the Nazis – such as writer Walter Benjamin. Men and women, soldiers and civilians, adults and children, find themselves on a pilgrimage to the same places – impassive to their broken destinies –at two different moments in time, separated by just one single year (1939 and 1940).
The film, shot in the Pyrenees, includes a mix of dialogue in Catalan, French and German, punctuated by magnificent songs composed by John Cale and Pau Riba (who also stars in the film). Following the exiled with an over-the-shoulder camera, Les Unwanted de Europa transforms the viewer into one of them. The clandestine even leaves its mark on the feel of certain scenes, where the sound of fugitives’ footsteps, whispers and breathing dominates the soundtrack, while the voice-over of a German writer denounces a time that seems doomed to repeat itself.
Les Unwanted de Europa, written by Fabrizio Ferraro and based on an idea by Claudia Landi, is an Italian-Spanish co-production between Passepartout, Eddie Saeta and Rai Cinema, in collaboration with the Jean Vigo-Cinémathèque Euro-regional Institute of Perpignan. International sales are being handled by Eddie Saeta.
(Translated from Spanish)
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