Inflight entertainment

Migrant Souls: A Docuseries Spotlights Refugee Stories

A selection of documentary shorts from the Tribeca Film Institute brings a human perspective to refugee struggles around the world

Cathay Pacific is showcasing an international selection of short-form documentaries from New York City’s Tribeca Film Institute, which was co-founded by actor Robert De Niro. The selection, titled Migrant Souls: Home and Away,  gives a close-up look at the endeavours of refugees and those offering help. It’s available onboard through 30 June 2019.

In David Freid’s High Chaparral, a Swede contributes to his country’s open door policy towards Syrian refugees by transforming his American Wild West theme park into a temporary refugee camp for the winter. Just as the undeveloped West was once a refuge for colonists in the US, the park becomes a safe haven for new settlers escaping war. Freid subtly injects the heartwarming story with equal measures of humour and hope.

Renga for the West is a project organised by the Refugee Directors’ Cooperative in the US state of Montana. The 40-minute short ties together three stories self-filmed by new arrivals, revealing their daily lives and reminding us that beyond the label of refugees, they’re musicians, athletes and mothers with aspirations.

Migrant workers must similarly adapt to a new place, and Searching for Wives introduces a photo studio in Singapore that helps Indian migrant workers find wives by posting their portraits on a wall as a personal ad of sorts. The film is an intriguing journalistic work that shows how other cultures view the institution of marriage.

TFI, which prioritises creators whose points of view have been marginalised, also recently launched the If/Then Initiative, which offers mentorship on funding and distribution for directors of short documentaries. The standout project is Poland’s George and George on the Lake, the story of two lifelong friends who sail together on the Mazury lakes every summer. Shot in a quiet, observational style, the film is an affectionate but unsentimental portrayal of lasting friendship.

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