It is hard not to be moved by Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveler as the film forces audiences to take an honest look at the worldwide refugee crisis. To view it from the lens of those who are literally risking their life for a chance at a better future, and not through the partisan political coloured glasses that consumes our news cycles.

Shot on three cell phones, Midnight Traveler is a haunting first-person account of the epic journey Hassan and his family – filmmaker wife Fatima and daughters Nargis and Zahar – embarked on when the Taliban placed a bounty on his head. After spending 14 months in Tajikistan waiting for their asylum request to be granted, the family had no alternative but to make the harrowing trek from Afghanistan to Europe. Encountering treacherous terrain, shady smugglers and overstuffed refugee camps, the quest takes its toll on the family both physically and emotionally.

The film is especially heartbreaking when, after enduring great hardship, the family experiences racially charged violence at the hand of European nationalists whose hateful antics are backed by local police. While Hassan’s film is filled with unbelievable strife at every corner, some of which he openly wrestles with how much to show, he still manages to incorporate a considerable amount of joy when focusing on his family. Whether it is Nargis indulging in brief moments of play in the water, or the way Fatima and Hassan get into a discussion on whether a husband should be allowed to flirt, Midnight Traveler eloquently shows that that Fazilis are a family first and foremost. The beauty of the family’s love is the bright light that navigates them through the dense darkness.

Midnight Traveler is an unforgettable portrait of the refugee experience that should be required viewing.

Screens:
Sunday, Apr 28, 9:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 4
Monday, Apr 29, 2:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 3
Sunday, May 5, 12:30 PM, Aga Khan Museum