Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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In another life, Adnan (Elie Haddad) was a teacher in Syria, but he and his wife Bana (Toyah Frantzen) had to flee as their home city, Aleppo, was destroyed around them. Their flight took them through Turkey to Lesbos in Greece, then braving hostile security guards and dogs in Hungary before arriving in Calais. Bana was successfully smuggled away to England, but Adnan had to face the law of the Jungle - the informal camp where refugees from the Middle East, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other parts of Africa risked their lives trying to board trucks or trains to the UK, harassed by French police, prey to unscrupulous people traffickers, but supportive of each other and grateful for gestures of kindness from people who came from England and elsewhere to help. Though Adnan is the main focus of Jason Wingard's powerful and at times gut-wrenching film, In Another Life, he is a 21st Century refugee Everyman, his plight one of a million personal dramas and tragedies. He finds solace in friendship, even though his closest friend, Yousef (Yousef Hayyan Joubeh) turns out to be living in a fantasy world in which his parents' long-distant support is nought but a fantasy. Much of the film takes place in the Calais Jungle - real and constructed - shot in black and white in documentary style, gritty and immediate. Occasionally, there are insights into Adnan's dreams, including an imagined attempt to swim the Channel, and despite all the setbacks, sordidness and inhumanity around him, hope and his love for Bana drive him on. The acting is powerful, so that at times one forgets that this is not a fly-on-the-wall biopic, and there are moments of real beauty to alleviate the greyness and gloom. The film - largely crowd-funded - was made on a shoestring, but the use of hand-held cameras and drone footage adds effectively to its impact. Doubtless some people will criticise In Another Life for being "political", maybe even "left wing", but in fact it is a brilliant portrait of the human condition in our time, in the tradition of Honoré de Balzac and Charles Dickens, depicting those who find themselves at the very bottom of the pile in their contemporary world; as Oscar Wilde put it, in the gutter, but with their eyes firmly fixed on the stars.