What if the refugee crisis reversed itself, and war-weary Europeans were the ones seeking safe haven in the Middle East? "Tunisia 2045," a short film by Ted Hardy-Carnac, explores that hypothetical.
A long line of refugees from Europe waits outside of a Tunisian immigration office at the start of the film.
"I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do," a female immigration officer announces to a father and daughter. "The quotas for European refugees have already been met. I'm sorry."
The father begs her to reconsider. "You know what's happening in Europe," he pleads. "You know what Paris looks like right now."
"I'm just doing my job," the woman retorts coldly. "There's nothing I can do."
A German-speaking refugee approaches her desk, yelling at her for being too slow. He slaps the table, growing increasingly aggressive. Security is forced to intervene. The immigration officer appears overcome with guilt.
European countries have scrambled to find ways to help the throngs of refugees reaching their borders. More than 1 million refugees, over half of whom were Syrian, entered Europe in 2015. Over 820,000 entered the continent through Greece alone.
"The Tunisian employee is just doing her job, and little by little, she breaks down and really starts to look at the man in front of her," Hardy-Carnac explained. "The rest of the film forces her to move away from her desk, leaving her job behind. She becomes a human being faced with the suffering of other human beings. How can one refuse to help other humans in distress?"
He adds that the impetus to use Tunisia as the country receiving European refugees is a result of current events. "If a catastrophe befell Europe and forced Europeans to emigrate, they would naturally gravitate towards a country that is geographically close and where things are going well," he said.
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010 when a street vendor set himself ablaze in protest against the government. Despite periods of instability in the last five years, the country has held several rounds of democratic elections.
"Tunisia 2045" is a contender in the sixth annual Nikon Film Festival. Watch the film here.
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