In a classroom newly arrived refugees learn about multifarious Europe. Operating at the intersection of fiction and documentary, Stranger in Paradise reflects on the power relations between Europeans and migrants in a candid fashion.
In a classroom in Sicily, just inside the walls of Fortress Europe, recently arrived refugees receive lessons from a teacher (Valentijn Dhaenens) who has some rather unbalanced traits. One moment he mercilessly rejects the refugees – the next, mollifyingly, he embraces them. Operating at the intersection of documentary and fiction, Stranger in Paradise investigates the power relations between Europe and refugees. Europe is represented by a teacher who drags his class of refugees down into his despair. A plea that borders on the immoral; a welcome charged with a guilt complex; and the compromise between these, made policy: Stranger in Paradise is an unflinching film essay on the mechanisms through which Europe tackles the refugees’ desire for happiness.
From the Director
“I tried to look down on the Earth from above. Contemplatively, and far removed from moral judgements. It started in May 2013, with a visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa. There, I met some of the migrants who have landed up there, their hopeful dreams for the future seeming to clash with a Europe that has little to offer them. I was struck by the power relations: how those with happiness treat the desire for happiness in others.
The contours for this film that formed them have changed little since. I wanted to make the power relationship I observed from a distance (and then later, during the research phase, up close) not so much visible, as feelable.”
Guido Hendrikx, Amsterdam, November 2016
Crossings: Stories of Migration is an ICA-led UK-wide film and events programme supported by the BFI using National Lottery funding and in partnership with the Goethe-Institute and the School of Film & Television, Falmouth University.
For all the films available please visit Crossings2017.co.uk