The first shot of the film establishes its agenda: the arrival of the Indian elephant god in the streets of Paris. The elephant god – a symbol of power and wisdom – is a well-chosen metaphor for the clash of foreign cultures that is part of the daily life of the CAFDA, a municipal reception centre for asylum seeking families. For both sides must show power and wisdom – the social workers who are constantly at risk of collapsing under the sheer number of new arrivals, and the asylum seekers who are forced to comply with an administrative logic that must seem as alien and incomprehensible to them as life on the moon. They come from the Congo, Chechnya, Sri Lanka or Ethiopia. They come with or without documents or luggage, brought in by immigrant smuggler gangs or have entered the Schengen area with a tourist visa. Observing both sides’ predicaments with sympathy and understanding, the film accompanies the CAFDA’s Sisyphus work and offers an authentic picture of persecution, political oppression and human misery outside Europe. “You will feel good in France”, an employee calms an excited mother, “there is no war here.” One would like to see this attitude in the German aliens departments who proudly point out the sinking number of asylum seekers in the country.
(Catalogue DOK Leipzig)
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