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CARAVAN

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by Lucy Ashton

grade: 7

In Caravan, Lucy Ashton has carried out an extremely interesting experiment. Cinema becomes life. Life becomes cinema. Everyone, even with just a mobile phone, can make their everyday life a magnetic spectacle. At the Diagonale 2024.

An endless journey

How hard can life be for refugees, even in a country like Austria? How difficult is it to obtain a residence permit? And how much time is devoted to memories of a difficult past during a daily life in which there is little time to rest? Among the documentaries dealing with such sensitive issues, particularly interesting is Caravan, made by journalist Lucy Ashton and world premiered at the Diagonale 2024, where it won the Audience Award.

The peculiarity of Caravan, therefore, lies in the fact that Lucy Ashton, back in 2019, asked Samim, Fawad, Marwand and Najib – four young refugees from Afghanistan – to document their lives by simply filming their everyday life with their mobile phones. Through four different points of view, therefore, an intense ensemble story came to life on the movie screen. The extremely personal story of four young men, but also a universal and sadly topical story.

Yes, because, in fact, the story of Samim, Fawad, Marwand and Najib is also the story of thousands of people who are forced to flee their homeland every day, in order to find asylum elsewhere, in the hope of finally starting a new life. But will such an undertaking really be so simple? What Lucy Ashton (and with her the four protagonists) wants to show us in Caravan are above all the numerous bureaucratic difficulties that every refugee encounters in Austria (and beyond).

The journey of the four protagonists thus begins in Afghanistan, and then continues to Vienna, Paris and back to Vienna. Each time one of them is forced to change their home, they set off resigned but always hopeful for the future, singing a traditional song. The pandemic forced everyone to stay at home for a long time. Many activities have stopped and so have our protagonists. Their journey, however, seems destined never to end.

In Caravan, therefore, the director has carried out an extremely interesting experiment. Cinema becomes life. Life becomes cinema. And again, anyone, even with just a mobile phone, can make their everyday life a magnetic spectacle. There is no need, in this documentary, for special effects to make everything work. Without any filter, but with a strong narrative structure, everything is shown to us in an extremely realistic and natural way, so that we too can feel part of the everyday life of the four young men and can finally understand their difficulties, their emotions, their dreams. Cleverly avoiding any clichés, therefore, this interesting Caravan immediately presents itself as a documentary that is both simple and complex at the same time. A long and adventurous journey that changes our point of view forever.

Original title: Caravan
Directed by: Lucy Ashton
Country/year: Austria / 2024
Running time: 94’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Lucy Ashton
Cinematography: Fawad Akbari, Marwand Mohamadi, Najib Mohamadi, Samim Mohmand
Produced by: Rasselas Productions

Info: the page of Caravan on the website of the Diagonale