Opinions on migration a familiar clash

GMT 17:16 Tuesday ,18 March 2014

 Migrant Voice - Opinions on migration a familiar clash


The clash of opinions over Immigration shown in 'Evaporating Borders' — a documentary on the treatment of migrants in southern Cyprus — will be familiar to citizens of virtually all Western European countries. On the one hand, there’s discontent over foreign faces and voices and reports of unearned benefits for people seeking asylum: on the left hand are liberals insisting that everyone should be treated fairly and equally wherever they are from and whyever they are in the country. Filmmaker Ida Radivojevic is in a good position to observe the increasingly passionate disagreements. Her family fled Yugoslavia to escape the fallout from its break-up, and finds itself in Europe’s only militarily divided city (I am writing before the crisis in Ukraine has unfolded fully). The UN-patrolled boundary is somewhat permeable, leading to accusations that the Turkish-controlled north is allowing migrants – especially Muslims – to move south and create difficulties for society and the administration there. That allegation is unique to Cyprus, but other allegations – such as immigrants’ big families, incomprehensible languages in the streets and over-generous handouts for work-shy arrivals – are universal, as evidenced by UK leader Nigel Farage’s recent outburst about his train commute from hell (“I got the train the other night, it was rush hour, from Charing Cross. It was a stopper going out and we stopped at London Bridge, New Cross, Hither Green. It was not til we got past Grove Park that I could hear English being audibly spoken in the carriage. Does that make me feel slightly awkward? Yes it does.”) Radivojevic’s response is a gently paced, personal film essay that turns down the volume and allows time for reflection – at least until the inchoately angry protesters take over the screen, prompting the anti-anti counter-protests. Her documentary may be a little too poetic and leisurely for modern cinema tastes, but she touches on most of the key issues in the immigration debate and paints a convincing picture of a complex situation. The film could provide an excellent basis for discussions about immigration in other countries. By Daniel Nelson, One World ·        Evaporating Borders is showing at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London, at the Barbican on 24 March, and at the Ritzy Brixton on 26 March, both screenings followed by discussion with Radivojevic


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