AWARDS:
* Best Film Hera Nuovi Talenti - Biografilm Festival
* Audiance Award - Biografilm Festival






Stranger in Paradise

Category |Current Affairs, Justice, Migration, Politics, Social Issues
Year | 2016
Country | The Netherlands
Running time | 72’
Format | HD
Production | Zeppers Film &TV
Director | Guido Hendrikx


In a classroom in Sicily, just inside the walls of Fortress Europe, recently arrived refugees receive lessons from a teacher (Valentijn Dhaenens) who has some rather unbalanced traits. One moment he mercilessly rejects the refugees – the next, mollifyingly, he embraces them. Operating at the intersection of documentary and fiction, Stranger in Paradise investigates the power relations between Europe and refugees.

Europe is represented by a teacher who drags his class of refugees down into his despair. A plea that borders on the immoral; a welcome charged with a guilt complex; and the compromise between these, made policy: Stranger in Paradise is an unflinching film essay on the mechanisms through which Europe tackles the refugees’ desire for happiness.

Director's statement : GUIDO HENDRIKX

REVIEWS:
''The stylised doc weighs up the right and left views on E.U. immigration then sheds light on some of the harsh realities''
   - Damon Wise - Variety

''Stranger in Paradise, which opens Dutch documentary festival IDFA, is, quite literally, a classroom exercise which assembles would-be migrants in a Lampedusa detention centre and gives them – and the viewer – a brutally direct lesson in the realities of European refugee politics. ''
  - By Fionnuala Halligan, Chief Film Critic - ScreenDaily

Guido Hendrikx


Guido Hendrikx

Director’s Statement

“I tried to look down on the Earth from above. Contemplatively, and far removed from moral judgements. It started in May 2013, with a visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa. There, I met some of the migrants who have landed up there, their hopeful dreams for the future seeming to clash with a Europe that has little to offer them. I was struck by the power relations: how those with happiness treat the desire for happiness in others.

The contours for this film that formed them have changed little since. I wanted to make the power relationship I observed from a distance (and then later, during the research phase, up close) not so much visible, as feelable. For me, film is war with the viewer. Once I had become aware of the moral implications, I obsessively forced myself to depict reality as accurately as possible. Perhaps this is why it became an absurd film..

There were many exceptional moments during the shooting period. When, after a long conversation with a man from Mali, I asked him how he saw Europe: after a brief hesitation he replied, ‘I can only really say something about myself.’ He refused to give an opinion on Europe. Looking at the film now – it is a snapshot – what I see is the desire for happiness of these others getting dashed against waves of European self-satisfaction and self-interest.”.

Guido Hendrikx, Amsterdam, October 2016