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CHAMBRE CINEMA: Every human deserves a place on Earth

Limbo (2020), Dir. Ben Sharrock.

Showing the human drama hidden behind a full of kindness innocent smile, is not easy. Through the bittersweet comedy, true violence is not shown to us. Defying all logic, the pain is so subtly inserted in the flow of time that it provokes the surprisedly emergency of the absurd. While we try to reflect on the meaning of life, on what is it that distinguishes us as human beings, profound philosophical questions arise, such as: the right to build our own future or the right to lead a life of freedom that allows us to transit at will. However, in the world we live in, to be recognized as "someone" we need to have a place on earth.

“LIMBO”: Where is home?

Limbo (2020), Dir. Ben Sharrock.

The emerging British director Ben Sharrock, with specialized studies in Middle Eastern Cinema, is a new talent in the cinematography world. The film Patata Tortilla (2015) was recognized with several awards, including two BAFTA awards (Best Drama and Best Writer). His introduction as director in his first feature film Pikadero (2015) was a great success, the film was screened at more than 40 film festivals around the world, and honored with several distinctions. With is second feature film, Limbo (2020), written and directed by him, he once again captivated the audience achieving several international awards.

His particular storytelling style, has drawn worldwide attention. Developing characters with whom we deeply are able to identify on a sensitive and emotional level. Carefully constructing every scene filled with great pictorial beauty, Sharrock succeeds in turning crude realism into a kaleidoscope of metaphors.

From its very title, Limbo, is a common word in more than 70 different languages.The concept of “limbo” is that of a non-place, it is a suspension in which one is confined within a few indefinite limits, between the inside and the outside, is rather, a transit condition, marks the abandonment of the limit of a known past that has ceased to illuminate the path to come, and that is still on the border of the faith of an uncertain future.

Limbo tells the story of a Syrian lute player, Omar (Amir El-Masry) who is forced to leave his country and his family to escape the war, while his parents flee to Turkey and his only brother decides to stay in Syria to fight for the country. Trying to find asylum in London, he is sent to Ouist, a remote island in Scotland, while his permit is issued. Omar arrives, with a plastered arm and the lute that belonged to his grandfather, at the refugee center where three other immigrants reside already awaiting the government ruling over their migration request. The common goal of the asylum residence as the only alternative for survival is not the only trait they share in the shelter, the four exiles share the deep intimacy of their dreams for a future that they have built in their hearts. While Farhad (Vikashi Bhai), an Afghan fan of Freddy Mercury, has been optimistically waiting already 32 months for his migration approval, he still maintains the illusion of working in an office so he can wear a suit and a tie every day, Wasef (Ola Orebiyi) a football passionate Nigerian, firmly believes that he will be part of Chelsea F. C. while the Sudanese Abedi (Kwabena Ansah), simply wants his permission to work and survive in a place on earth.

Farhad (Vikash Bhai), Abedi (Kwabena Ansah), Omar (Amir El-Masry), and Wasef (Ola Orebiyi) in Limbo (2020), Dir. Ben Sharrock.

Omar, like his companions, ventured on the odyssey of the hope for a better life, leaving his land in an absolute solitude. The nostalgia and sadness feelings are present every time Omar hears his mother's voice through the phone calls he makes from the only phone booth located somewhere at the immense isolated landscape. The recalls of the family memories acts as the only engine capable of making him escape from the secluded reality in which he finds himself.

Omar (Amir El-Masry) in Limbo (2020), Dir. Ben Sharrock.

The melancholic burden of one's own existence stripped of a sense of belonging is always present in Limbo. Loaded with symbolism, each of the scenes builds a particular atmosphere that guides us to perceive the changing seasons as a reflection of the pain and helplessness that is developing in the intimacy, jealously kept, of each of the characters. The vast desolate landscapes,makes contrast with the insignificance of humankind, leaving us face to face with a nature that survives the changes in its eternal cycles and the fragility of the individual universe of each human being.

That does not mean that we are facing a melancholic drama, is the opposite, Limbo plays with an ironic humor that is loaded with gestures and words, becoming so punctual, that they become absurd scenes. While the immigrants group attend the lessons to be "educated" regarding English social customs and behaviors, given that the system presupposes that different cultural ways of looking at the world is threatening, the shame arises to recognize that the immigrant is preconceived as a subject without moral values ​​or education. The socially correct behavior instruction becomes rude and humiliating. Motivated by a process of “Transculturation," with the aim of adapting the migrant into the new reality of the social and political norms of the new society from which he wishes to be part of, uncovers the society arrogant position of moral superiority. And that is, indeed, the fundamental requirement of the statutes to be able to configure and associate the diversity of individual subjects within the same territory. That will only be possible through the so-called "Productive Alienation," that is, a cultural clash that provokes crisis, deep trauma and pain, which causes that the immigrant is stripped of his voice, his dignity and the possibility of choosing his own destiny. However, when the need for survival is imperative, the individual may be able to reduce and even suspend all questioning about their past, about what they supposed to be part of their identity, in order to an assured survival through their legal recognition, as a resident.

Limbo (2020), Dir. Ben Sharrock.

Perhaps what makes Limbo so wonderful, is that it is not a film to be viewed from the crude perspective of social injustice and the abusive political systems Its strategy is that of intimacy, revealing the depth of the personal experiences of each of the characters, who have been forced by the circumstances to give up their home, their roots and the certainty of being part of a world. Addressing the question of the individual facing his own humanity and the desolation of indefiniteness, the tedious waiting of a time that seems to stop by the necessary recognition of an invisible power that allows them to become "someone". This way of narrating the individual drama within the condition of anonymousness, without a status, where life is at stake, demands a forced alienation as the only alternative in pursuit of obtaining an identity. Therefore, the perspective of a future, remains confined within just one border, the death itself, because even to be buried you need a piece of land, maybe that, is the common shared trait of humanity.

Limbo (2020), Dir. Ben Sharrock.

Words: Judith Sacal

Pictures: Limbo (2020)

We do not own the rights to any of the pictures in the article. All the rights go to the authors of the pictures.


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