Filmed at the Greece’s Idomeni refugee camp, the largest informal refugee camp in Europe, Fantassút (Rain on the Borders) is an unflinching look at the refugee crisis through the eyes of those impacted the most. Opening with a shot of the double barbed wire fence that encloses the camp, as angelic choir music plays in the background, Federica Foglia’s short film establishes itself immediately. Fleeing the widespread violence that has ravished their homes, over 11,000 thousands refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries have journeyed to Europe in hopes of a better life in one of the EU countries.

Taught in school that Europe is a humanitarian civilization, the refugees get a rude awakening when they discover that the borders of many countries have been closed. Left in limbo, with little medical assistance, the travelers are forced to live in a makeshift tent city within Idomeni, a small village near the border of Macedonia. As Breivan, a mother of five young children points out, the small tents must serve as their bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms. If living in such cramped and unsanitary conditions were not tough enough, there is also the fact that the majority of the individuals are dealing with the trauma of the war back home. The stench of dead bodies and the sounds of bombs going off are not things one easily forgets; this is especially true for the children.

In documenting the daily struggles of those who did not want to leave their homes, but had no other alternative due to the terror that surrounded them, Fantassút cuts through the rhetoric that has been spewed about the refugee crisis. While some attempt to paint the refugees in a negative light, Foglia’s film turns the uncomfortable spotlight on the EU countries and others around the world who are not stepping up to aide those in desperate need of assistance.

Through individuals like young Bilal, a child who attempts to teach the other kids in the camp how to read and write, and Khattab, who worries that the Syrian crisis may go on for years, Foglia reminds us that there are human faces behind the seemingly all encompassing “refugee” label that is so easily thrown around. Individuals who simply want to live in a place where they feel safe and can make an honest living to provide for their families.

Captured beautifully in black and white cinematography, Fantassút is a heartbreaking portrait of the lives of those who the world can no longer turn its back on.

Screens (with Nowhere to Hide):
Friday, March 31, 6: 30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the TIFF website.