Review: But Now Is Perfect
by Ola Salwa
- If you watch only one film about the refugee crisis this year, make it Carin Goeijers’ documentary, which unfolds like a murder-mystery
Becky left so many shoes behind, and what happened to her was not right. Her smile was vibrant and alluring, even though one of her front teeth was cracked. She spoke about her life with certainty and hope, assuming that from now on, everything would be fine. But it wasn’t.
What happened to Becky, a refugee from Nigeria, is a pivotal question in But Now Is Perfect [+see also:
film profile], a subtle, intelligent and moving documentary by Carin Goeijers, now screening at the Krakow Film Fest. And just like in a crime film, we visit the scene, listen to witnesses and get to know the victim, who was interviewed on a few occasions by the director. Becky lived in the small Italian town of Riace, which – in contrast with many other places in Europe – was very welcoming to refugees. They were given places to live (although some of them were of a zero-star standard) and financial support in the form of credit, called “curo”. That system seemed to be working, and the lethargic town was revived somewhat, thanks to the newcomers, their vitality and their will to build a better life.
Goeijers talked to several different people, among them Becky’s friend Djemila, who says that they stopped seeing each other. Djemila is married, but Becky was single, so she had no structure to her life and could get into trouble. The country may have been different, but the rules stayed the same for unmarried Nigerian women.
The helmer unfurls the story in no hurry, but with extreme precision. While offering new leads on what happened to Becky, she presents an overview of the social dynamics in Riace and the fraud perpetrated by the local authorities, and explains that some people who are refugees in Europe were modern slaves in the countries they fled.
But Now Is Perfect is impressive in the way it intertwines perspectives, information and human stories. In a compact, 55-minute-long format, it manages to paint a portrait of a complicated world that couldn’t be further from black and white. It’s not yet another documentary on a “hot topic”, but rather a smart investigation of the refugee crisis on a microscopic scale.
So who killed Becky? Was it a hate crime committed by the locals? Was it a way of getting even for what happened back in Nigeria? Was she neglected by her peers? Or maybe the system that pledged to help her failed? Finding out the answer may satisfy the curious but will displease those with a conscience.
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