By Adam Ray Palmer
Now more than ever, my second film at the 2021 Edinburgh Film Festival is essential viewing for all.
Directed by Haider Rashid and co-written by Sonia Giannetto; Europa is a 75-minute rollercoaster ride of unpleasantness, littered with unease and angst.
Europa follows a young man named Kamal (played by British-Libyan Adam Ali) who is an Iraqi young man attempting to migrate into Europe on foot. A jungle wasteland lies ahead with a group of Bulgarian vigilantes calling themselves Migrant Hunters monitoring their every move, waiting to strike in more ways than one.
The film opens with a people trafficker (Mohamed Zouaoui) taking the group’s desperation for weakness as he pretends to help immigrants make their way towards Europe in exchange for extortionate sums of money. Of course, the trap is set but Kamal manages to free himself from the border patrol and flees. He navigates the wilderness looking for a way out and running for his life just hoping his luck is in.
Europa’s runtime of 75 minutes is a god send to be honest, as it’s a difficult watch with the constant threat looming with every jump cut. Europa plays out at a thriller’s pace and forces the viewer to follow every twig snap and exhausting breath. Kamal stumbles across atrocity after atrocity, one being a victim near a waterfall. His desperation knows no bounds as he must loot the body for necessities. The despair continuously takes its toll as the climax looms.
Rashid’s and Giannetto’s relentless writing and approach is as intelligent as it is uneasy. The dialogue-less script always gives Adam Ali so much more to do, a real difficult job to convey the narrative through just facial emotion. It’s this expression-based acting tactic coupled with uncompromising close-up shots that lets the angst run through the audience too.
The claustrophobic filmmaking accompanies the terrifying narrative expertly onto screen, leaving nothing to the imagination. With a film like Europa, it gives the movie a “horror-like” tendency as you feel you’re also living in this real-life nightmare This film-testimonial keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and ensures these important stories about real people are told. Europa is a must watch just as much as freedom is a must for all people. A wholly difficult film that needs to be shared in school.
Cineroom’s rating: 4 stars
Europa is released UK-wide later this year showing in selected cinemas – certificate 15.