Calais Refugee Film Makes Illegal Immigration ‘Noble’

Calais refugee film makes illegal immigration 'noble'

A film about a 'lovable' Calais refugee who swims across the Channel in a bid to sneak into Britain has been released in cinemas in France.
Last Updated: 11:08PM GMT 01 Mar 2009

A group of would-be immigrants in Calais hoping to come to Britain as asylum seekers Photo: BRIAN SMITH

The movie called 'Welcome' is the first mainstream film about the hundreds of refugees massed on the northern French coast hoping to enter Britain illegally.

But it has already attracted accusations of glamorising the bedraggled migrant's desperate quest to reach British shores.

It centres on a Kurdish refugee who has failed to sneak aboard lorries and ferries to the UK so decides to swim the 18 miles to the Kent coast instead.

A swimming instructor played by popular actor Vincent Lindon decides to help the Kurd make the crossing as a way of impressing his girlfriend.

While the refugee successfully swims across the Channel, Lindon's character is arrested by police for helping an immigrant to enter Britain illegally.

Reviews of the film in France describe it as a 'likeable story about a downtrodden migrant achieving his wishes against the odds'.

Le Post newspaper said: “The central character is a lovable Kurd who is determined to reach his final destination of the UK whatever the odds stacked against him.”

But Calais police spokesman said yesterday: “I have not seen the film yet, but I think we would all be disappointed if it made breaching frontier controls look like some kind of noble quest.”

Council chiefs in Calais also said they hoped the film would not present sneaking into Britain as a 'worthwhile task'.

A spokesman said: “The idea of making a refugee very likeable, then to have the audience rooting for him to successfully swim to Britain goes against everything border patrols in France and the UK are trying to achieve.

“Anyone with a genuine case for asylum should have it heard through the correct channels, and not try to sidestep customs and security.”


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