THE quest for a new life devoid of terror, cruelty, war and discrimination.
This is the underlying theme of In Another Life, a brave and sensitive film from Jason Wingard that tackles the world’s huge refugee crisis. Fiction it may be but its rings true (faction).
Shot (cleverly) in black and white, it follows Adnam (Ellie Haddad) and his beautiful wife Bana (Toyah Frantzen) as they attempt to start a new life. Destination England, the land of plenty and opportunity (?)
It is a hazardous mission. Having survived the carpet bombing of Aleppo in Syria, their journey takes them across the Mediterranean to Lesbos, and then terrifying journey across Europe where they are stopped and humiliated. Finally, they end up in Northern France where Bana manages to get across the Channel smuggled in the back of a car (unbeknown to the driver). Adnam ends up in the Calais Jungle where he has only one thought on his mind – to be reunited with his wife.
Adnam’s life in the Jungle is tough. His tent leaks, the toilets are disgusting, he has no money and the police make life difficult. But he remains stoic and kind. Quests to escape are thwarted, resulting in him being driven by the police to the middle of nowhere and left to find his own way back to the camp.
He forms a bond with Yousef (Yousef Hayyan Jubeh), a Palestinian who promises the earth (money and the great escape) but delivers nothing but trouble. They decide to do business with traffickers – and are horribly cheated first time around. When they have a second attempt, there are tragic consequences.
For all its grimness, the film is littered with touching moments. Adnam, leaving money for a kind farmer who has allowed him and Bana to sleep in his barn – and whose milk he draws from a tank. Jungle inhabitants dancing together and the kindness of nurses who volunteer their spare time to go into the camp and give out medical assistance (a special more in the case of Adnam). Bana and Adnam skipping with joy on the sea front and at the beginning of the film Adnam striding naked into the Channel and swimming like an Olympian, only to end up panicking (a metaphor for the plight of people fleeing terror by boat across the Mediterranean, initially excited but then scared at the prospect of drowning).
This is faction at its best. Wingard tackles the subject matter with great sensitivity and openness. He is sensitive to the drivers whose trucks are broken into by those wanting to cross the Channel. It is only the traffickers who are portrayed for the ghastly exploitative individuals they are.
In Another Life was made on a shoestring, only getting off the ground as a result of a positive response to a plea for crowdfunding support. Filmed in the Calais Jungle as well as Warrington (you would not know it from the film), it makes for compulsive viewing, helped in part by some fine performances from Haddad, Frantzen and Hayyan Jubeh.
Even Emmerdale’s Rishi Sharma (Bhasker Patel) gets a bit part. Indeed, he is involved in one of the film’s kinder moments when he tips off Adnam that traffickers are after his blood (and that of Yousef).
As for Wingard, he is a huge talent. His next film, Eaten By Lions, is based in Blackpool and is a comedy. Two films poles apart.
In Another Life is not on the scale of Ai Weiwei’s refugee epic ‘Human Flow’ (a documentary). But in its own small way, it is as powerful.