7.8/10
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2 user 5 critic

Stranger in Paradise (2016)

In a classroom newly arrived refugees learn a lesson about multifarious Europe. Operating at the intersection of fiction and documentary, Stranger in Paradise reflects on the power ... See full summary »

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3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Valentijn Dhaenens ...
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In a classroom newly arrived refugees learn a lesson about multifarious Europe. Operating at the intersection of fiction and documentary, Stranger in Paradise reflects on the power relations between Europeans and refugees in a candid fashion. Written by Zeppers Film

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8 December 2016 (Netherlands)  »

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Extraños en el paraíso  »

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€180,000 (estimated)
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Interesting idea that didn't work
16 June 2017 | by See all my reviews

A sort of documentary, almost entirely set in a classroom, full of refugees, recently arrived in Europe after a dangerous sea crossing. Just over an hour, mostly English, some Dutch with subtitles.

The premise is interesting - the 'teacher' (with the film maker's agenda) is an actor, the refugees are real.

The film starts with an (to me, rather indulged) arty montage of historic clips with a voice-over, about Europe, Africa, and refugees. The film lost me here.

In the first 'class', the 'teacher' explains to the refugees why they aren't welcome - a left winger playing devil's advocate. This part didn't work for me.

In the second 'class', he explains why they should be welcome, and then interviewed them, going through the 'economic or asylum seeker' acceptance procedure. The 'interview' process was interesting, and the most thought provoking part of the film. The subtle but very life changing distinction between the two seemed rather arbitrary.

The film was made with a grant, it didn't need to be commercial and to a certain extent, it showed. It didn't look into the refugees plight very deeply (in the credits, only their first names appeared, not their surname). Being set mainly in a classroom, it didn't take advantage of the medium of film.


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