Bruno Ulmer's haunting, visually poetic portrait of a handful of young immigrants to Europe approaches the subject in a way that's distinctive and ultimately quite devastating.
Interweaving the story of several young Kurdish, Moroccan, and Romanian immigrants who come looking for work and a better life, Ulmer reveals a fascinating community of men who move around this Paradise Lost, somehow thinking that the next country will be better than the last. Once hoping to earn enough money to support their families at home, they are left destitute and struggle to survive—sleeping in boxes and abandoned cars, dealing with the police and discrimination, and falling into drugs and even prostitution.
A documentary with a truly artful conception, <i>Welcome Europa</i> blurs traditional lines and experiments with the form as portraiture, depicting the men's experiences not strictly in literal, but in emotional, terms—as much an expression of soul as a document of circumstances. Enhanced by vivid, sometimes impressionistic, photography, <i>Welcome Europa</i> abounds with extremely close shots that focus so intently, so forcefully on faces that you lose the world around them. What's striking about Ulmer's style is how immediate it makes your sense of sorrow, homesickness, and humiliation. By depicting these feelings of dislocation in such a personal, intimate manner, Welcome Europa greatly distinguishes itself as a documentary.
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