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Movie Welcome and Illegal Immigrants February 28, 2013

Posted by heidi skarie in Movie reveiew.
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Welcome-Have you seem the foreign film Welcome directed by Philippe Lioret?  At one point in the movie we see the image of a mat with the word “Welcome” at a neighbor’s front door, but the irony is that the French are anything but welcome to the illegal immigrants in their country.

 

This powerful movie is a parallel story about Simon (Vincent Lindon) a Frenchman who is going through a divorce and Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) an illegal immigrant.   Seventeen-year-old Bilal is a Kurdish man who has walked for three months from Mosul, Iraq to France.  Bilal comes to where Simon works at a public pool and asks him to teach him to swim.  Simon works with him and comes to care about him like a son.

 

There is irony in this as well because Simon’s wife Marion (Audrey Dana) is leaving him partly because of his apparent indifference to the plight of the men who have illegally immigrated to France.  Marion helps run an outdoor soup kitchen for illegal aliens who are struggling to survive. The immigrants want to get jobs so they can send money home to their families.  We see them being turned away from grocery stores, from the pool (where they want to take a shower) and being arrested.

 

The story is set in Calais, the port in northern France closest to Britain. The cliffs of Dover are visible from Calais.  As the story unfolds we find out Bilal wants to learn to swim so he can swim across the English Channel to the girl he loves. The youth spent three months traveling all the way from Iraq to France by foot and now has to get to England.  He tries to get across the English Channel by getting aboard a ferry but after he gets caught by the police, he decides to learn to swim so he can swim across.

 

Simon’s heart opens (as does the viewer’s) to Bilal who loves a woman so much he walked 4000 km across several countries to get to her, and now is willing to swim across the English Channel.  We also sympathize with Simon who says to his wife, “I couldn’t even walk across the road to get you back.”  Simon still loves Marion and doesn’t know how to heal their marriage.  Marion watches him help Bilal and realizes that Simon has begun to awaken to the plight of the illegal immigrants.  She even worries for Simon who could be arrested and even incarcerated for helping Bilal.

 

I don’t want to give away the story, but rather focus on the topic of illegal immigrants.  Where I live in Minneapolis we have illegal aliens from Mexico.  When men get arrested, they get sent back even though the may be leaving a wife and children behind in Minnesota.  It seems cruel to send them back.  Yet our country is in a recession/depression and there aren’t enough jobs for our own people.  Moreover, how can we afford to educate these children who don’t even speak English?  How do we afford to pay for these people’s healthcare?  Yet our country is based on immigration.  We all immigrated here.  Even the Native Americans immigrated here at one time.

 

Our country is the land of freedom and opportunity.  At least that was what it was called when I was a child.  We have benefitted from hard working immigrants.  How do you feel about illegal immigrants?  What is our responsibility to people from war-torn countries?

 

Here is a trailer of the movie.

 

 

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