Film depiction of French refugee crisis shown to Iowa State community


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People in the auditorium watching the performance. The audience in the theater.

Mike Brown

Iowa State students and community members were given a depiction of the refugee crisis in France through a film screening in the Christian Petersen Art Museum on Sunday.

While the story in the film was fictional, it is meant to represent the current climate surrounding the refugee crisis in France. 

The film, “The Age of the Stateless (Le Temps Des Égarés),” was directed by French director and filmmaker Virginie Sauveur. It most closely follows three individuals. The first being Sira Diabate, played by Claudia Tagbo, who is a former refugee and multilingual translator who tells lies to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons.

Diabate extorts refugees for large sums of money so that she can falsely translate their stories, thus fabricating a story for them that increases their chances of receiving refugee status.

The film also follows a young child named Assa, played by Hadja Traore, who is seeking asylum in France with her father who is trying to protect her from genital mutilation.

The last character followed is Abdul Yassin, played by Amer Alwan, a refugee from Baghdad who seeks asylum in France after the murder of his family and destruction of his property.

The film depicts each of these characters’ struggles within a French system that, according to the film, only accepts roughly ten percent of refugees that attempt to seek asylum.

Junior in graphic design, Rachel Smith, said she was most impacted by the story of Assa.

“She dealt with so many serious adult things that she shouldn’t have to go through, and then playing with a balloon, playing tag, it just seemed like such a contrast,” Smith said. “When I think of kids I think of my own childhood. I think of playing outside, playing tag, playing at recess. I don’t think of dealing with all of the things she dealt with.”

Junior in graphic design, Kaitlyn Sanchez, felt the film was realistic and informative.

“It felt very real, and I’ve never personally had any experience with immigration or really looked into it a whole lot, so I enjoyed the reality that was shared,” Sanchez said.