From 2015 onwards, pictures and stories of migrants and refugees, who had set off on perilous journeys to reach Europe, flooded the news media around the world. Many journalists felt compelled to go beyond mere statistics and stereotypes, trying their hand at a different kind of storytelling.
This is the case of the winner of Prix Italia’s TV Documentary category and recipient of the award from the President of the Republic Jury, “Exodus
”, produced by the BBC.
An entire year was needed to make this special documentary, where not only the filmmakers followed refugees along the route, but also the refugees themselves got to film several moments of their dangerous journey, incidents more often than not unseen by reporters. According to the jury
, this film “is essential now and for the future”.
We asked director James Bluemel to explain to us the work behind this innovative documentary.
Where did the idea for this documentary come from?
We had been following the news like everyone else, seeing images flitting across our screens of all these people coming from Africa and drowning in huge numbers in the Mediterranean. At the same time, a photographer friend went to Morocco, where migrants were trying to get through to Spain. There he collected some footage that they had shot themselves.
That is when we thought that the combination of us filming and them shooting would make a highly interesting documentary. With the Syrian exodus, we followed this same scheme.
What have been the challenges in putting together something like this?
It was an organizational nightmare. I am amazed we managed, but we did it.