Polish Shorts 2009

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Smuggled across borders, cheated by immoral intermediaries, trailed by police, at the mercy of foreigners – such is the fate of illegal immigrants from Vietnam who try to settle in Poland. Among them is young Mai Anh, whose boyfriend now works at a bazaar in Warsaw. Their meeting in a foreign country will not transpire as they had imagined. This film debut leaves no doubts as to the fate of refugees: in their new lives in the ‘promised land’ they are constantly hounded and frequently need to deny their identity. In the struggle for survival under these new circumstances, such values as solidarity, friendship and love will not prevail. The film’s creators present this phenomenon from a very intimate perspective, without resorting to predictable narrative methods or simple generalisations in their evaluation of the protagonists.
The film-makers were right in assuming that a vocal commentary in this story would be absolutely redundant. The entire life experience of the main protagonist is engraved in the wrinkled face of a mother who, despite her old age, regularly covers a 450-kilometre distance to visit her son serving a prison sentence. These moments in a visiting room are all she can hope for to express her feelings: longing, persistent concern, her wise resignation to her lot. The camera follows her daily life in a poor village as she raises her grandchildren, prays, and waits. Will she live to see her son a free man? After all, he still has ten long years to serve.
Our heroine stopped praying long ago. As a thirteen year-old girl she was brought from her native Turkey to Germany to marry one of her cousins. This is how her childhood ended – she became the property of a husband who tortures and degrades her. She finally decides to flee, but must continuously be in hiding. Condemned by both families, she has no chance at a normal life, neither as a wife nor a divorcee. The film is not a typical intervention reportage, but a poetic collage comprising of documentary material, family photographs and children’s drawings. This individual life story reflectsthestoriesof many other girls and women subjected to a patriarchal law still enforced by tacit consent in the multicultural societies of Western Europe.