Recently, I watched a documentary called “Human Flow” directed by Chinese artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei.
The documentary presents a ground report on the actual problems faced by civilians caught in war-torn countries like Syria, Iran, Israel, Afganistan and the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Weiwei has created a shocking documentary on the subject of migration and its effects on the condition of refugees all over the world in the 21st century. With his camera crew, he travels around the world and finds a globalized story of suffering and deterioration of humankind.
Weiwei’s approach is to show the ground reality, and his camera captures refugees fleeing from Syria to European countries in millions. This seems like a Hollywood movie perhaps because we are used to seeing crowd scenes in fiction, but the mass migration in this film transpires in reality. Germany and other countries agreed to accept refugees at first but their increasing number day by day led to several countries becoming stricter about their immigration policy. The movie shows millions of refugees waiting at the borders of Lebanon, Jordan.
The scenes captured by the director are horrifying and interviews with refugees raise a question for humanity. Thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean sea by boat die during the journey. Terrorists who find civilians crossing their border rape women at gunpoint. ISIS has burnt most of the oil fields of Syria. The people living in camps are prone to diseases, they don’t have access to food and medical facilities.
The most tragic scene is the shot of a dead body: perhaps of a girl or a young woman, lying in the dust, and her body half burnt showing her intestine coming out from one side. It is framed and presented in a flat, unemotional way, almost like a statue that has been knocked over. People are shown walking sideways without taking any notice because this kind of brutality is now common for them.
The director doesn’t give you answers, but he engages with the subject in fiercely human terms. He shows that forced migration at this level is a new condition which has disrupted people’s lives in a way that has never been seen before.