Together in Vienna for Global Migration Film Festival

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 Jan 14, 2018

The Vienna Regional Office screened "Amerika Square", Greece’s entry for the Oscars, directed by Yannis Sakardis to mark International Migrants Day on 18 December, as part of the Global Migration Film Festival.

The film, which deals with xenophobia, people smuggling and organized crime was a huge success, with 200 people turning up on a cold evening. It was followed by a wide-ranging discussion with the audience keen to learn more about the global compact, how IOM and UNODC work together, the media treatment of immigrants and refugees, roles and responsibilities of the media and much more.

The discussion lasted almost an hour after the film was screened and was chaired by Martin Nesirky, Director of UNIS, the United Nations Information Centre in Vienna. Regional spokesperson Joe Lowry represented IOM alongside Ilias Chatzis, Chief of UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, and Andrea German, from the Corporate Social Innovation NGO/magazine. The, which was also served as part of the regular UN Kino series, event perfectly complimented IOM Austria’s screening of "Lost in Lebanon" which opened the film festival earlier in December. Both events were held under the UN "Together" banner.

Of the 300 films submitted to the Global Film Festival, The Journey, directed by the filmmaker Matthew Cassel in collaboration with Field of Vision, was awarded first prize in the professional filmmaker category. The six-part documentary explores the dangerous paths Syrian asylum seekers take to get to Europe.

From Guyana in South America to South Sudan in East Africa (and many other places in between) filmmakers from around the globe showcased their skills as cinematographers during the Film Festival. Organized by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, the Festival spanned over 13 days with 30 specially selected films being screened in over 100 different countries across a range of different venues from displacement camps and migrant centres to university campuses and arthouse cinemas.

"Films have the power to illuminate the different facets of life. They can inform, inspire, transform and promote inclusion," said Laura Thompson, UN Migration Agency Deputy Director General. "For example, in The Deportation of Innocence we see how deportation affects the lives of the children left behind, in In Search of the Riyal we explore the world of Nepali migrants in the Gulf and in When I’m There we get a real sense of the positive contributions of the Moroccan community living in the Netherlands," said Ambassador Thompson.

The Cambridge Squatter, directed by Eliane Caffé, which follows the trials, tribulations and triumphs of homeless people and refugees living in an abandoned Sao Paolo hotel, took second prize. Sans le Kosovo, directed by Dea Gjinovci, which is a short documentary about the life of a man who fled Kosovo in the late 1960's, was third. Dem Dem, directed by Marc Recchia, Christophe Rolin and Pape Bouname Lopy was awarded the Le Prix Spécial du Jury.

An important category in the Film Festival was that of emerging filmmakers. In that category, prizes were awarded to It Has Killed My Mother, directed by Amina Rwimo; The Deportation of Innocence, directed by Francisco Alarcón; and La Jerusalem Argentina by Ivan Cherjovsky and Melina Serber.

"Films truly build deeper empathy for migrants and a better understanding of their realities, needs, perspectives and capacities. Our Film Festival uses film as educational tools to influence attitudes towards migrants in a positive way, highlighting their overall contributions to society and the struggles that many face in today’s world on the move," said Ambassador Thompson.

Special mentions were also given to: Misafir a Guest, directed by Mariam el Marakeshy; The Lucky Specials, directed by Rea Rangaka; and Amerika Square directed by Yannis Sakaridis.

The Festival was made possible through the support of global partners such as DHL, Aware Migrants Campaign funded by the German Government, the IOM Development Fund and PLURAL+.

More on the film festival here