Jason Wingard’s hard-hitting drama In Another Life about the refugee crisis in Calais, has been awarded Best UK Feature at the 25th Raindance Film Festival. The film follows Syrian refugee Adnan’s plight as he tries to be reunited with his wife in the UK.
In Another Life, says Maryann Johanson, is an astonishing and moving film that “rehumanises people who have been dehumanised in public discourse, putting faces to the still-ongoing refugee crisis and inescapably reminding us that those we’ve Othered are not very different from us.”
Clare Clarke, writing in The Panoptic, agrees: “Despite our increasing awareness of the refugee crisis, there is something about In Another Life that brings humanity to what otherwise so easily becomes just another statistic.”
When director Jason Wingard decided to take his camera into the Calais refugee “Jungle”, he thought he would be making a documentary. But after befriending those stuck there, he developed a narrative-based drama with actors representing versions of the real life people he had come to know. The result is In Another Life, which enjoyed its world premiere at Raindance 2017, and has now been named Best UK Feature.
The film sees Adnan (the wonderful Edie Haddad), a former teacher from Syria, find himself trapped in the sprawling encampment outside Calais known as The Jungle. Separated from his wife (Toyah Frantzen), he is gradually brutalised by the corruption of the ruthless people smugglers and the hatred of the locals, who see the refugees as invaders, and he begins to lose his grip on morality.
Writes Derek Ravenscroft in his Raindance Film Festival notes, “Whilst showing and explaining the predicament of the refugee crisis with the care and attention of a docudrama, the film balances this with elements of a mainstream thriller as Adnan and other desperate refugees struggle to find a way across the Channel by whatever means possible. With the character of Adnan, the film gives a very human face to a phenomenon which has inspired hysterical xenophobia in recent years.
“We watch as an essentially good man experiences justifiable emotions as a result of his loss and isolation. It is not difficult to see how fear, indignation, rage and despair make breaking the law an inevitable consequence in the face of the world’s indifference and hostility.”