About this project
Refugee - A feature length documentary film.
Refugee follows the unique story of the Alali family during their struggle to migrate from Syria into the safety of Europe.
Filmed over a year across ten countries, Refugee intimately documents the dangers of illegal migration, conditions of refugee camps, and bureaucracy associated with re-unification.
All documented in beautiful 4k across the stunning landscapes of Northern Europe the film is shot unlike any documentary within this space. Highlighting the free and safe migration of wildlife, in stark contrast to the men and women who are restricted by invisible borders. Placing a call to action to the audience – where is the humanity?
Our Heroes: The Alali Family
While most families fleeing Syria sent women and children first, or the men alone. Due to family illness Raf’aa Alali was sent ahead of her children in search of asylum. But when her husband Nasem was well enough to take the children to follow – it would be too late.
Now safe in Germany, Raf’aa waits for the return of her family as she is treated for post-traumatic stress. Nearly two thousand miles away, with the border now closed Nasem and his children will wait in limbo for next six months in one of the worst refugee camps in Europe.
The camp lacks basic living necessities such as warm showers, clean water and above that the children have now been out of education for over a year. Nasem has been playing both the role of the mother and the father for over a year now and the stress, worry and terrible living conditions have had a major psychological effect upon his state of mind. As with all parents, he only wants what is best for his two young children.
The reunification process has proved incredibly difficult, with a system that is overloaded with similar cases, Nazems papers sit in a pile of a thousand applications, whilst they wait without any understanding of when it will all be over. Until then they wait pateintly in the camp, for the day to arrive when they can all be one family again.
Our Journey: Finding the Alali Family
In September of 2015, Director Alexander Farrell visited one of Europe’s infamous refugee camps ‘The Calais Jungle’, where he helped build shelters for the new arrivals. After witnessing the situation there and hearing the stories these remarkable people had to tell, he was inspired to dig a little deeper. On his return to London, and hearing and seeing the stories of Alan Kurdi it was obvious that this was bigger than the Calais camp, and the dangerous journey to Europe needed to be documented.
Alex and a team of friends would then go on to travel to Europe walking through ten countries from Turkey to Germany risking their personal safety to document the truth about the crisis. Whilst navigating through the migrant trails we were soon introduced to the Alali family. Compelled by their story Alex and team would then travel to Germany and Greece visiting three times to document their worlds and share video diaries and deliveries between the family. Keeping them as best connected as possible.
It’s been three months since we’ve visited the Alali family, and it’s clear their situation has not improved. Our vision is to use the film as platform to highlight not only the dangers of the journey, but also raise awareness to their situation and to others alike.
Our 'Award Winning' Team
Our team of filmmakers and volunteers have now spent over a year documenting the migrant crisis with over 700 hours of footage. We’ve spoken to the best in the business and been able to attract the attention of award winning talent including: Kurt Engfehr (Fahrenheit 9/11, and Bowling for Columbine), Mariko Monpetit (Act of Killing, Look of Silence), and award winning Executive Producer San Fu Maltha to help us edit and deliver the film.
Alexander J. Farrell - Director
New York Film graduate, and winner of the David Attenborough 'Back Climate Action' photography competition. An accomplished writer, actor and director Alex has worked on feature length films: The Last Boat to Alcatraz, and other refugee documentaries – Lighthouse Lesvos.
Kurt Engfehr - Co-Producer/Supervising Editor
Co-Producer/Editor of the Oscar winning documentary Bowling for Columbine & award winning Fahrenheit 9/11. Director/Producer/Editor of Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 1 & 2, and The Yes Men Fix the World.
San Fu Maltha - Executive Producer
An industry veteran with over a decade experience in distribution, and production. Founder of Fu Works Pictures and Producer of over sixty six feature length narrative and documentary films. Fu Works Pictures is best known for award winning feature films, such as Suskind, Tinza (Dutch entry best foreign film – Academy Awards), Winter in Wartime (shortlist best foreign film – Academy Awards), Kenau, Love Is All and Black Book (shortlist best foreign film – Academy Awards).
Mariko Montpetit - Editor
Accomplished editor who worked on both the Oscar nominated The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence.
Francesco Loschiavo - Producer
Founder of Envoi Entertainment and independent production company with offices in Toronto, ON & London, CA. Known for producing narrative thriller Tear Us Apart, and migrant documentary Lighthouse Lesvos, as well as various independent works that have screened across US, Canada, Spain and Germany.
Sarah Keeling - Editor
All all star editors and filmmaker whose work has has been featured on Dazed, screened at the London Short Film Festival, London Fashion Week, Berlin Fashion Film Festival, and exhibited in the Tate Tanks and the V&A. Sarah splits her time between documentary and editorial content for brands.
Viche't Vong - Technical Director
The geek in the squad, Viche’t has a eagle eye for detail and half the time speaks in robot. You’ll find him working along side James with the camera & then in the editing room. He brings a well rounded technical knowledge to the team, after having worked across various industries such as music, fashion, corporate, entertainment & travel.
Production Team: Harriett Dedman, Nathaniel Sobhee, Luke Goodrich, Sophia Warby, Daniel Cioufo, Gille Klabin, Rafael Sadi, Don Nelson, Dom Corbisiero, Inigo Manby, Jody Neckles, and Donya Maguire.
Director's Story - Meeting The Alali Family
I fell in love with the boys instantly. They were playing football in the mud of Idomeni, Greece. Nazem. It was hard to believe, that they had been here for almost two months, in the filth, with hardly anything to eat, yet they were laughing, running around, still with such childlike happiness.
Ahmed the youngest had one of those pads that you could draw on and then rub it out. I was talking to Nazem about life at home when Ahemd held the board up. He had been drawing an American fighter jet dropping bombs. It was incredibly surreal, what most children back home would draw a flower on, he was drawing bombs. it was in this interview that Nazem told me about his wife and how she had made it to Germany a few months before. At this time, the boys hadn't seen her in five months. I promised Nazem that if he wanted to record her a message, I would deliver to his wife, Raf’aa in Germany. I did.
After spending two weeks with Raf’aa in Germany, it was clear the separation from her family had affected her. A remarkable woman, very intelligent and very poetic, it broke my heart. Hard to comprehend that it was simply a visa that was stopping her from resuming her life with her family, bringing up her boys and being the loving wife she had always been.
The next time I saw Nazem and the boys they had been transferred to a military camp in Thessaloniki, Greece. I spent three weeks with them, the conditions of this camp were worse than the field they were in before. The boys seem older, harder, they had turned into little men very quickly, I pray they don’t lose that child like innocence that all childhoods need. I miss them everyday. It has been a year now since they have seen their mother, with no end in sight, I hope this film brings attention to their situation and manages to help them resume their life as one happy family in Germany.
- Alexander J Farrell
How Will We Spend the Money?
Below is a breakdown of how and where the money for this project will be spent. We intend to use the majority of the funding to help us delivery the edit and final delivery of the film.
£10k - Post Production Color and Sound (29%)
£10k - Editors (29%)
£1.5k - Translation (13%)
£4.5k - Production Costs (4%)
£2k - Legal (6%)
£2k - Data Management (6%)
£2k - Marketing (6%)
£2k - Music Composition (6%)
£1k - Editorial Equipment (3%)
More Ways To Help
Risks and challenges
Filmmaking is a difficult and expensive business and whilst we would love to be in full control of this film, we have investors, and relationships with the Alali family that we have to consider. The risks and challenges that come with backing this project include:
- Shoot delays due to schedule alignments between team members, and situation on the ground with the Alali family.
- Post Production delays due to technical complications and or funding requirements.
- Some of us work day jobs so the delivery of this film is scheduled around availability. However finishing the film in 2017 is a priority.
- The following reward fulfillments could be at risk if the film does not reach completion: digital or DVD delivery of film, premiere invites, and festival passes.
Support this project
- (30 days)