Culture | Dreams displaced

Migr@tions finds unity in the immigrant experience

At a time when the topic of immigration stirs up endless ire and heated debate, a film offering moving insights into the humanity and bravery of the immigration experience has arrived.

Presented by Radio Canada International, the film Migr@tions takes a humorous, sensitive, and perceptive look at this issue. It integrates ten short films – both documentary and fiction – to examine the struggles and dreams of a transition experienced by growing numbers of people across the globe. Through highly personal and poignant stories, Migr@tions offers a new perspective on immigration by focusing on the hope and humanity that is central to the immigrant experience.

Migr@tions shows us that there is a common thread that binds diverse peoples together: an aspiration for unity and peace in a new found land. The film’s opening clip is a mockumentary that addresses issues of identity, race, immigration, and nationality with originality and sincerity. A man named Jose Manuel, who feels imprisoned in his conventional Spaniard body, claims to be Chinese with such conviction – he refers to the Chinese population as “my people” – that the effect is at once shocking and heartwarming. Manuel’s genuine desire to hold himself as a true Chinese man integrates two separate cultures, crossing borders and boundaries.

Themes of hope, unity, and the realization of dreams are prominent within the stories. The audience is introduced to the aspirations of Ammar, an exiled Iraqi living in London who plummets from prominent artist to poor plumber, but nevertheless holds on to his undying hope for success in a new life.

Each story highlights not only the trials and tribulations of entering a new country, but also how these struggles lead to increased determination and personal strength.

In the third clip, A Reggae Girl, the main character recounts the hardships associated with her father’s migration from Jamaica, revealing how the intermingling of distinct cultures can inspire personal growth and self understanding.

The films explore the conflicts, compassion, and complexities of intersecting cultures and ethnicities.Asylum is an experimental film that addresses the psychological effects of war on a Sudanese woman who seeks asylum in the UK. First Last Winter recounts incidents of racism and hatred a Filipina woman encounters during her first winter in Canada. Mariage à la plage portrays the meeting of two young immigrants.

These and other stories depict the strangeness of displacement, and the harshness of being different, yet at the same time they stir a sensitivity – almost an envy of those who have occasion to examine and establish their identity with conviction. It confirms the persistence of people who are determined to carve out a future, who grow and learn from their fears.

Buried under the layers of resentment, discrimination, and marginalization reflected in these immigrants’ stories lies optimism, central to uniting our nation, our land, and our people. In ironic fashion, the film that is so focused on difference highlights in large measure how humans are so much the same.


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