With the demand for information and the twenty four hour news at our fingertips there is always a race for news organisations to provide cover and in-depth content for every breaking story whether it be national or international. The humanitarian crisis in Europe, which came to prominence in 2015 became a massive media event. Director Orban Wallace And his team was on hand, not to cover the news story but to observe the news crews and how they report and therefore frame the unfolding story.
As with the refugees journey within Europe, the film begins on the Island of Lesbos. A number of film crews are on the beach waiting for the boats to arrive. Once they see one it is a rush tower up and get the best shot. We get introduced to several refugees all with a story of fear, oppression and being forced out of their homes and their countries. This is not economic migration, they are fleeing a place where they fear for their lives. With Angela Merkel publicly stating that all were welcome, Germany becomes the destination for them. The film tracks the reporting of their journey and the obstacles in their way.
It is an interesting twist to focus on the opinion makers rather than the events themselves. For the most part the people involved in producing the news reports come over sympathetically. As one reporter states early on “We just follow the story. Next week we could be at the Venice film festival.” That sums up the attitude. They are there to record and report on the events. Not to get personally involved. Of course it is hard for them to maintain impartiality as almost all have families back home.
The film is put together in such a way as to convey just the facts as much as possible. Through the images at the Hungarian border where chaos and disorganisation seemed to be the ever-present, the film maker refrains from commenting directly on the situation. The consistency in the approach allows the audience to make up its own mind about the unfolding human drama.
The news teams they converse with are puzzled by the approach. They are there to record the events but they themselves are being recorded. More than once they get a comment like “Why are you filming me? The action is over there”. Once they get over the initial scepticism regarding the idea behind the film they start to open up and share genuine insights.
The film highlights the way the new can be reported based on events. It starts five days after the reported drowning of the three year old Alan Kurdi. The effect of this in terms of the reporting is the slant towards the need for a humanitarian response from Europe. Something for the benefit of those who risked their lives. This is seen to change as far right Journalists in Hungary try to change the story to one of fear. It i only when the Paris bombing takes place does the story fully switch to the ‘threat’ of the refugees, or immigrants as they now get called. A different word and one that holds a lot more negative meaning. It is telling that the film maker chooses to end the film with an excerpt of a speech from the new president of the USA.