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Crítica: The Roller, the Life, the Fight


- El documental de Elettra Bisogno y Hazem Alqaddi narra el encuentro entre dos mundos y un recorrido de conocimiento mutuo tan precioso como, a su modo, revolucionario

Crítica: The Roller, the Life, the Fight

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

“If you do things without feeling, they don’t mean anything”. When Elettra suggests making a film about Hazem, the latter assures her that everything will unfold in the most natural way possible and that the camera won’t be an awkward presence between them: they just need to do things with feeling. And it’s certainly a deep sense of love and shared struggle that emerges from this documentary co-directed by Elettra Bisogno and Hazem Alqaddi, The Roller, the Life, the Fight, which is screening in the 20th Biografilm Festival in Bologna, having previously scooped the Best New Director award in Paris’ Cinéma du Réel Festival back in March.

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Elettra and Hazem met and fell in love in Belgium. She was there to study documentary filmmaking, he’d arrived after a lengthy journey to escape Gaza. When they decided to make this film, they also decided that Hazem wouldn’t just be the object of their investigation, he’d also actively participate in the filming process. As such, he asked his far-off aunt to send him videos from Gaza and, first and foremost, to film the sky, the stars, the trees, and the people who build fires and gather around them: in other words, beautiful things. With the help of satellite images, he shows us where exactly his house was, on a street he describes as “wonderful”, close to an airport which “was the world’s most beautiful” but which is now destroyed.

Hazem also dusts off old footage of him rollerblading - his passion - and a few videos he shot in holding centres to document the life of refugees during his long journey to the heart of Europe. Crucially, Hazem doesn’t portray himself as a victim: he’s lively, he has dreams and a critical – and never passive – attitude towards this western society which is full of divisions and official documentation. “I want to be free on this Earth, otherwise I’d rather not have been born”, he says, and that’s why, when he receives notification of his impending deportation from Belgium, he doesn’t give up but instead decides to return to the Greek island where he’d landed years earlier, by way of Turkey, to complete his documents. At the cost of having to relive some fairly unhappy memories…

Elettra is always by his side. Her camera films police checks and conversations with officials - often secretly - who are supposed to be helping Hazem obtain his passport. They encounter countless difficulties, but this doesn’t stop our two outsiders from dreaming about a future together and imagining alternatives. If there’s one thing that emerges forcefully from this documentary, above and beyond the well-known (unfortunate) treatment of refugees as second-class human beings, it’s the struggle that a couple like them – composed of one free person and another who isn’t actually free, purely because he was born in the wrong country – has to contend with. But the film also documents a meeting between two worlds and a process of getting to know one another which is precious as well as revolutionary, in its own way.

Elettra and Hazem choose to tell their story through images which are often uncertain, fragmentary or partial, and sometimes over-exposed or out of focus, as they pass the camera back and forth between them. It’s a style which might not be to everyone’s taste, but it definitely conveys the naturalness which the two filmmakers set as their goal.

The Roller, the Life, the Fight is produced by Tândor Productions (Belgium), in co-production with CBA – Brussels Audiovisual Centre, who are also distributing the work, and GSARA Bruxelles.

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(Traducción del italiano)

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