'Those Who Feel the Fire Burning' Documents Hopeful Refugee Journeys to Lands of Opportunity
Photo Credit: S & A

'Those Who Feel the Fire Burning' Documents Hopeful Refugee Journeys to Lands of Opportunity

A real-life narrative that’s provided many-a-filmmaker with inspiration, many we’ve covered on this blog; the potentially deadly journey by sea that countless refugees make to enter Europe by boats that only hold a few people at a time, and are certainly not meant for long distance travel.

These men (typically) often have to save up money to pay for the trip, which can be pricey, all in an effort to seek better lives for themselves and their families. Some don’t make it all the way to their destination; the Red Cross estimates that thousands of people die attempting to make these dangerous crossings each year. I recall reading a news item some time ago, on the discovery of a boat with the mummified bodies of 11 men, found 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, just drifting. It is believed that workers originally boarded the vessel in Senegal.

And those who are lucky enough to make it are, especially in recent years, met with hostility by the locals in whatever country it is they arrive in. Often waiting for them, once they disembark, are officers of the law who pack them on to buses and transfer them to the courts, followed by overloaded detention centers.

So it’s a really a matter of life and death, which, as noted, can provide for many compelling stories for filmmakers to tell, whether fiction or not, as is the case with director Morgan Knibbe’s feature documentary “Those Who Feel the Fire Burning,” which follows one of those little boats full of refugees, trying to make it to Europe, and the tribulations that make their already rough journey even more torturous, as well as what kind of life awaits them on the other side.

Here’s a breakdown: The night is pitch-black, the sea stormy. Wild waves break on a little boat full of refugees, where a girl laments that she does not want to go to Europe. Suddenly an old man falls overboard. In vain he tries to grab the saving hands. Colored lightning flashes over a busy city seen from above. From that point on, the drowned man sees reality from another dimension. Unconventional and poetic in form, ‘Those Who Feel the Fire Burning’ documents a serious social problem: the hopeless situation of the refugees who actually manage to make the crossing alive. The seeking soul of the old man hurries along the southern European border and dwells on the many disillusioned people, observing them calmly and up close. They would seem to be in limbo just like him, waiting on the edge of a presumed paradise. He sees people on the street chased away like dogs, follows an illegal worker and a drug-addicted mother and slips inside packed shelters. The voices of all these people blend together with his, creating a patchwork of loving memories, dreams and desires.

After touring the international film festival circuit, “Those Who Feel the Fire Burning” is now streaming on Netflix. On #WorldRefugeeDay, add it to your watch lists.

Check out the trailer below:

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