Director: Sharon Walia
Release date: Out now
Reviewer: Dan Cooper
Cast your mind back to 2015. Emblazoned everywhere were images of the migrant crisis, as Syrian refugees scrambled desperately to reach Europe, all too frequently paying for the dangerous ocean crossings with their lives. Four years, though, is an eternity in the news. Brexit. Trump. Grenfell. The lenses of the media began to hunt elsewhere, followed by the eyes of the world.
Enter Sharon Walia. The former refugee worker turned journalist makes her filmmaking debut with the sobering documentary The Movement, a bold attempt to reverse the polarity of the refugee narrative and restore some much needed attention to the subject.
The feature-length film follows a handful of ordinary people who have dedicated their lives to filling the aid void left behind by increasingly distant governments of the world. The film spans a number of countries in its journey, documenting events by land, air and sea, to stitch together a haunting portrait of the refugees’ desperate plight.
Walia is unable, it seems, to directly tackle the institutions that truly could make a difference, but their absence from this documentary only serves to reinforce their remoteness from the situation. Instead, the debutante filmmaker wisely leans into her experience as a refugee worker, using her camera to chart the lives of those who’ve been marginalised by society and those who would seek to help them. Often visually arresting, with searing truths to lay bare, The Movement is an adeptly constructed film, with a beating human heart at its very centre.