WANDERING, A ROHINGYA STORY
CANADA / BANGLADESH, 87 MIN, 2020
Within a few months, the Kutupalong refugee camp has become the biggest in the world. Out of sight, 700,000 people of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled Myanmar in 2017 to escape genocide and seek asylum in Bangladesh. Prisoners of a major yet little publicized humanitarian crisis, Kalam, Mohammad, Montas and other exiles want to make their voice heard. Between poetry and nightmares, food distribution and soccer games, they testify to their daily realities and the ghosts of their past memories. Around them, the spectre of wandering, waiting, disappearing. In this place almost out of space and time, is it still possible to exist?
MÉLANIE CARRIER & OLIVIER HIGGINS
Born in Québec City (Canada), Olivier Higgins and Mélanie Carrier are biologists by trade. They discovered video while documenting their numerous adventures. In 2007, they directed and produced the documentary film Asiemut, which chronicles their 8000 km cycling trip from Mongolia to India. This film won 36 awards abroad, was distributed in 40 countries and was broadcast on several television networks, including ARTE, RTS, RTBF, RAI, VIAJAR, PHOENIX, Televisio de Catalunya, Al Jazeera, etc.
In 2010, the director-producer couple founded MÖ FILMS, an independent production company, devoted to documentary films, whose objective is to contribute to the debates and societal challenges of our times. Their second film, Encounters, selected by the National Geographic Society, won several awards abroad and their environmentally-themed satirical short film Ice Philosophy was presented at numerous festivals.
Their documentary feature film Québékoisie examines the relationship between Quebecers and the First Nations. It was nominated for a Jutra Award and, amongst other prizes, was awarded at RIDM, RIFF and received the prize “Work of the Year” by the Québec Council of the arts. It was then broadcast on TV5 Monde in approximately twenty languages.
After giving more than 400 film talks in Québec, Europe and the United States with their films Asiemut and Québékoisie, Mélanie and Olivier released their documentary feature film Wandering, a Rohingya Story, which examines the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh. Along with this latest film, they produced and designed a multidisciplinary exhibition, including the works of several artists, at the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBAQ).
The two directors receive funding from major organizations like Telefilm Canada, SODEC, the National Film Board (ONF), Quebec Council of the arts and Canada Council of the arts.
It was following a shocking Facebook post from the Kutupalong refugee camp in February 2018 by documentary photographer Renaud Philippe, that we became aware of the sheer extent of this major humanitarian crisis that has received so little media coverage. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of this situation and the power of Renaud’s photos, we suggested that we join forces to create this film with as the main objective, alerting the public to the tragedy of the Rohingyas in exile.
What started out as a short film project quickly became a feature documentary project. From the start, our idea was to make a deeply immersive film, far from a purely informative document. It attempts to make us experience the daily life in the largest refugee camp in the world, where more than 700,000 human beings live in a cramped 13 km area.
The role of Rohingya refugee Kala Miya (Kalam) was central in this film. It was Renaud who first met Kalam in February 2018 during his first stay in the camp. Kalam naturally became an ally and the film crew’s guide out in the field. As a fixer, translator and sound recorder, he was the one who ultimately made this film possible. Over the course of the discussions, Kalam’s personal story and the poetry he wrote was so meaningful, so universal, that we decided to make it the narrative thread of this film. To us, the dreamlike and poetic approach of Wandering, a Rohingya Story is a way of doing justice to the refugees inside.
Following the filming in Kutupalong camp in October 2018, we met the small Rohingya community in Quebec City (Canada), our hometown. Soon, we met Mohammed Shofi who lived for nearly 18 years in the Kutupalong camp. He became an ally and a friend and the long translation work began with him. He also became the narrator of this film, his soft, calm voice, reporting Kalam’s story.
In Wandering, a Rohingya Story, light and darkness live side by side, as do strength and despair, resilience and a deep sense of injustice. At the heart of this film, is an underlying theme, childhood; both painful and enlightening, forcing us to question: how is it still possible that such violence can still exist today? Who will be the next victims?
- SEMINCI / Valladolid, Spain
- DOCSMX / Mexico — Winner Global Docs Award
- RIDM / Montréal, Canada
- FCVQ / Québec, Canada — Winner People’s choice Award
- FICFA / Moncton, Canada — Winner Best featured documentary
- Dok. fest Müchen / Munich, Germany
- 42nd International Festival of New Latin American Cinema / Cuba
- 39th Festival Cinéma d’Alès — Itinérances / France
- 39th Les Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma / Canada
- 27th Rendez-vous French Film Festival / Canada
- 10th Belleville Downtown DocFest / Canada
- Vues sur Mer in Gaspé / Canada — Winner Best Featured Documentary
DOKer 2021 — Main Competition