“I should have stayed in Sudan and died there with a clear conscience instead of living in this world of punishment…” These words are taken from an open letter written by this film’s central figure, Mohammed Gardaya, a 23-year-old Sudanese man who fled the violence of Darfur to claim asylum in Europe.
In this project, Gardaya sprints and crawls across a dimly lit urban environment as if harried by the nightmares of his past. Between gun flashes and echoes of rapid fire, director Adrien Landre centers the emotional trauma and psychological chaos that can haunt asylum seekers.
“This film is a metaphor for the refugees’ condition,” explains the French-born Landre. “Their lives become a loop, an eternal resumption, an infinite vertigo.” Speaking about the project’s title, he continues, “Labels such as ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’ systematically reduce people to a monolithic group. It denies any notion of their individuality.”
Gardaya has developed a passion for the arts after discovering Good Chance, a groundbreaking charity and innovative pop-up theater that works with artists from refugee communities across the world. According to Gardaya, it was through acting and writing that he learned to reclaim his identity and a sense of dignity. With renewed zeal, Gardaya hopes to see his refugee status one day recognized by the French government.
Read Mohammed Gardaya’s open letter:
In the name of Allah! I will tell you about my story.
Today I am here in Paris. I am only here because I was obliged to. I have left my people to death and rape, and for this I am a criminal. I should have stayed in Sudan and died there with a clear conscience instead of living in this world of punishment. At every moment I remember my father, my mother and siblings. My body is here but my mind is always there with them. I am a young man who has let his people and homeland down by coming here, only to live in loneliness and suffering.
Seven years ago, back in my village called Wand, I had a decent life. There was peace and dignity. I enjoyed horse riding, camel racing, swimming and shepherding. But one day we woke up to a nightmare. Our own people came and destroyed everything. They raped our mothers and sisters and killed our fathers and brothers. We wept until our eyes dried up and our hearts became hard like stones. We wanted to take revenge, but if my father were not there I would have taken a gun and killed them, like they killed us. Without my father I would not be alive today. So, for my father I fled my homeland. I now have no fear for my life because my life has no meaning anymore. It is full of suffering and bitterness and sadness. My life is useless.
I am talking to you today as friends so I can attenuate my deep suffering, distress and sorrow. I was lonely and humiliated until a group of people came and asked me to leave this sphere of sadness. I found friends at Good Chance who made me feel like a human being. They made me feel that there is still humanity in the world and a chance for life. I am so grateful for all of them and I thank them so much for everything they did for me. They used to ask me what I was looking for when I fled my homeland. I am just looking for dignity, peace, happiness and humanity. I just want to live like everybody else in this world.
Thank you very much.
Mohammed Mostapha Gardaya