A documentary about the objects lost by refugees trying to cross Serbia - and about the stories of their owners. Often, these letters, pictures, and children’s toys, are the only remains of their journeys, and sometimes of their lives. In our film, we want to reconstruct the identities and lives of the possessors of these objects and return them to their owners. By doing so, we hope to also restitute a piece of their identities, their history, as well as their dignity.
West Balkan Route
This is about representation: Refugees are either talked about in terms of numbers or through dramatic images; numbers of people trying to reach the EU; costs to keep the refugees out. Images of drowned children, families stuck in the mud, fences, frozen toes. While we believe that it is essential to show these images, we think that we have to find ways to represent these people that go beyond their status as refugees, and restitute some of the dignity they have been deprived of.
We will have finished the research and filming of our documentary and started post-production.
We are now working on the development of this documentary, assisted by the Future Docs initiative.
End of March: First research trip to Serbia during which we want to find an object that is suitable for our documentary and set out further research steps. We will be assisted by the Serbian Asylum Protection Center in our research.
April/May: further development and research.
Summer/autumn: filming in Serbia along the West Balkan Route, country of origin and country of arrival
Winter 2016/17: start of post-production
Target audience: European and international viewers who need to know more about the lives of the refugees trying to reach the EU.
Stakeholders: Refugees, refugee organisations (in particular the APC in Serbia), civil rights organisations, educational entities
This would be the first time that the search for a lost object’s owner becomes a vehicle to talk about the refugee crisis. The topic is often framed in terms of numbers or in equally reductive sensationalist ways. By investigating the owner’s individual identity and whereabouts in order to return their personal belongings – that often carry an emotional weight – we can paint a human and humane portrait of the man or woman who undertook such an extreme journey.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
Pre-production and research, including travel costs, office, outreach: 20.000 Production (crew, equipment, travel costs): 30.000 (We are looking for funding for post-production and distribution from other funds which we estimate to be ca. 50.000)
To those of you who work with refugees - have you come across the type of objects that we are looking for and which stories you would like to share with us?
First of all, we would love you to contribute to our virtual Lost & Found office! If you have found something that you believe belongs to a refugee, or if you are a refugee yourself and have lost something on your way, you can upload information about it here.
If you’re a journalist, media maker, blogger with interesting stories you want to share - we are happy to hear from you! Or if you’re one of the lucky, talented ones who speak more than one language and enjoy translating. We often need interpreters and translators.
We retraced the first owners of an object that we found during our research! The object - a folder containing health reports and legal documents - is very important for the cure and the asylum procedures of its owners, two brothers from Baghdad. Ahmed, a human rights lawyer, and his brother Ali, who ran a print shop in Baghdad, are currently applying for asylum in Vienna.
We would like to share 2 stories: Firstly, we retraced the owners of a folder containing legal and health documents that were lost in Serbia. The owners are a human rights lawyer and his brother from Ira qho now live in Vienna. Shortly after visiting them they had their asylum interviews, and those documents were of the utmost importance to them in this process.
Secondly, when talking to refugees about things that they brought with them from home, we imagined to hear melancholic and nostalgic stories. However, the story of the hipster hairdresser from Iran who brought his hairdressing equipment with him, or the story of the 3D animator from Damascus who brought his necklace from home, but never wears it because his friends think that it makes him look stupid, added an element of humor that we didn’t expect.
The following are only a few of the people we met during our research whom we consider true heroes: First and foremost, the many refugees who are living through unimaginable hardship in order to reach a safe and dignified place for themselves and their families. For instance the Iraqi woman we met in Serbia, who was travelling on her own with her 4 young children and hasn't lost her smile. Panagiota in Idomeni and Niki in Lesbos - two elderly women who housed several refugees in their homes for months. The pathologist Pavlos Pavlidis who has been working relentlessly on giving an identity to the hundreds of victims who drowned in the river Evros trying to reach Greece. Olga Djurovic, a lawyer in Belgrade, and the many volunteers, like Tibor Varga in Subotica and Ildiko' Sinko' in Szeged, who dedicate their lives to assisting refugees.
We are currently facing the largest refugee crisis since WW2. More than one million displaced people crossed into Europe in 2015, yet European citizens are struggling to emphasise with them and the media are not helping by merely portraying them as refugees. We are fiercely committed to representing these people in ways that go beyond their status. We will tackle this challenge with a documentary, LOST AND FOUND, about the objects lost by refugees travelling to the European Union – and about the stories of the objects’ owners. In preparation for the film, we will conduct extensive research along with a blog that will document the groundwork for the documentary (the research and the blog are the activities that are being sponsored by Advocate Europe). We expect the subjects of the documentary to be fairly represented and empowered as a result of our project.
The documentary film “Lost and Found” presents a collective portrait of refugees journeying to Europe. Built around a series of objects lost by refugees and found by filmmakers, the film tells the stories of the objects’ owners. The interwoven picture which emerges offers an original and impressive insight into refugees’ fates.