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Stockholm: Films About Migration in the Festival Spotlight

Migration is in the spotlight at the Stockholm Film Festival. A wide range of films dealing with migration, displacement and exile — from the pan-European thriller “One Breath” to the world premiere of “In Pursuit of Better Life,” a story about two Romanian women in Sweden, to the Liberian immigration tale “Out of My Hand” — are unspooling in a special section.

”We have to tackle and to reflect on today’s refugee and migration crisis, and we also have the films telling the stories behind the headlines,” said festival director Git Scheynius.

Olivier Guerpillon, a French-Swedish producer based in Stockholm (2010’s ”Sound of Noise,” 2013’s “Broken Hill Blues”), is competing at Stockholm with his short film on migration, “in/out,” which he directed. He’s also the co-writer of the upcoming Swedish feature “Banjul,” being screened as a work-in-progress at Stockholm. 

Guerpillon sees a historical shift in films tackling the subject of migration, which he says were first tackled by young directors who were first and second generation immigrants in countries like like France, England and Germany during the 1970s and 1980s, and later in Scandinavia. 

Now questions around the topic “are being processed by all kind of directors, irrespective of background. Take for example the Palme d’or winner ‘Dheepan’ by Jacques Audiard, or ‘Mediterranea,’ which opened the festival here. I believe it’s natural: in our global world questions of migration get more and more focus. It all adds up to which society we want to build and which (values) unite us. And of course, artists are supposed to contribute to this discussion,” says Guerpillon.

With his short “in/out,” pictured, competing for the 1 Km Film prize, he wants people to reflect on their own responsibility for the dramas taking place at European borders.

“These questions get increasing attention in the media but I believe the emotional power of film is hard to beat when it comes to really having people engaged and to make them see the reality from a different perspective,” he says.

Guerpillon’s other project at Stockholm, “Banjul,” is directed by the African helmer Dani Kouyate, produced by Maria Larsson Guerpillon and Julien Siri at DFM. It takes place in Sweden and Gambia, with African-Swedish actors in the leading roles.

“More than migration we perceive it as a film about identity. It’s a warm comedy-drama that touches on universal feelings that many can relate to, no matter what their origin. I think we’re about to see more of these stories, beyond arthouse, and with a potential of reaching out to a bigger audience,” says Guerpillon.

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