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concordia 10/04/2018 - 01:45PM

ANOTHER NEWS STORY screening prompts urgent discussion on journalism and immigration

Hundreds gathered at Cinema Politica Concordia’s venue for a screening of ANOTHER NEWS STORY on March 19th, followed by a panel discussion with activists Dalila Awada, Houda Asal, and Fatima Azzahra Banane, and moderated by filmmaker Muhammad El-Khairy. The discussion took the probing and urgent questions of the film beyond the European situation and addressed their implications in our Canadian context. The activists’ words were met with cheers and applause, as they questioned the harmful representations of immigrants in the media and offered empowering solutions for the future.

Awada focused on the role of language and the categorization of humans as “illegal”, “refugees”, “non-status” or “asylum seekers” as tools to divide, other, and misrepresent some members of society. The panelists equally discussed the importance of media coverage which does not treat the situation as a “crisis” and rather shines a light on the structural colonial and political roots of the situation, and holds governments accountable. The activists also stressed the need to work in solidarity with immigrants towards obtaining a status for all, preventing all deportations and detentions.

The film itself opens on the Hungarian border, 675 km from Germany. The setting is established at once as a separation between two territories, and as a distance to cover before reaching safety. Throughout the documentary, other places covered by the refugees always remain transient and unstable. They travel long distances at night, constantly risking deportation, at the mercy of brutal police forces and government legislation. Acting as a voice-over for the documentary is a constant flow of news stories from around the world, reporting on the situation in often sensationalist and superficial ways. Indeed, while director Orban Wallace follows refugees during their perilous journey to and across Europe, he also focuses on their portrayal by news workers, and on the urgent ethical questions at play in the reporting of the situation.

The relationships between refugees and journalists is poignantly examined throughout the film. Ali, an Afghan refugee, expresses the feeling that he is treated like a doll, his words constantly exploited in order to generate pity. He is allowed no rest, while the journalists are able to pack up their gear and return to their comfortable homes for the night. Many refugees are constantly followed by cameras and journalists who are “eating human stories”, while most of their basic needs and human rights are not respected. The question of consent in journalistic practices is also brought to light: no one asks for permission to film the camps, including at night when the camp dwellers are asleep. Many refugees, including children, appear on television without their knowledge, their images broadcast and reused around the world in order to generate a compassion which they will surely not benefit from.

With ANOTHER NEWS STORY, Wallace poses timely and difficult questions, which will stay in the viewer’s mind long after the closing credits. How do we move a world who has “stopped caring” to action with news reports, while remaining truthful to the facts and giving an in-depth coverage? How does one decide that a news story is “over”, and what are the consequences for those most affected by it? The panel discussion called to action as a response to these questions, urging all audience members to get involved in local organizations such as Solidarity Across Borders, in order to support immigrants and stop dismissing the complex issue as “another news story”.

 

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