The Crossing

A film by

George Kurian 

Produced by

Bente Olav

On a summer night, a group of Syrians wade quietly into the Mediterranean, with little children, a cat and little packets of food wrapped in cling-film held above their heads to climb into little boats that will take them to a fishing boat waiting further in deeper waters.  The little boat keels over from imbalanced loading. In the panic in the dark waters to save the children, they lose the cat and most of the food and water they have. A mother of two young children wants to return ashore, but it is too late, the police may have reached the beach and the only way available is into the sea. 

They are journalists, engineers, a musician and a psychologist climbing aboard an old unseaworthy fishing boat with no navigation tools, manned by desperate smugglers who have never before sailed beyond coastal fishing waters. 

Rescued by a passing oil tanker

The Crossing portrays the life they are leaving behind in Cairo and features never-seen-before footage of the agonising conditions endured on these boats as they cross the Mediterranean. Rescued by a passing oil tanker, they make their way through Europe to destinations they hope will offer them peace and welcome.

The film follows their lives in asylum centres across Europe – Germany, Belgium, Holland and Sweden waiting for their cases to be processed. They have had to move from camp to camp and live in cramped quarters with no privacy or friends. Germany allows 6 square meters per asylum seeker and a small room can have 4 occupants who have a cot and a shelf each. Although the group knew that the asylum process could take a while, nothing prepared them for the emotional and psychological trauma of waiting endlessly in uncertainty, sometimes only having rations of frozen food to eat…

The film also looks at Europe’s reluctance to deal with these issues through interviews with the Italian Red Cross and exclusive access into an Italian centre for asylum seekers, European experts on asylum law, their consequences and the problems faced by both asylum seekers and care givers. 

The film uses personal narratives to bring human beings to the center of the debate on asylum by making visible the human face of the problem without maps and statistics reducing them to numbers and socio-political issues, as Europe increasingly frames these questions vis-a-vis its own perceived interests and identity.

Do they feel that the most dangerous journey of their life has been worth it? Do their dreams have a new lease of life or will their present disillusionment finally murder what they most sought to save – Hope?

Festivals:   North American première at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. 2016  (April/May 2016), DOXA – Vancouver May 14th 2016, 18th annual One World International Human Rights Documentary Film, Prague March 2016, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London March 2016, The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH),Geneva February, San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival (15-22. April), Bergen International Film Festival ( 23 – 27 September) Nordische Filmtage Lübeck.

Awards: Best Documentary One World Brussels (June 2016), The  Audience Prize Bergen International Film festival (September 2016) The Best Documentary Prize at the Nordische Filmtage Lübeck (November 2016)

Première October 27th  2015 on The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation ( NRK1).
Link to the film:

TV Sales:  SVT 1  (Sweden), DR (Denmark), YLE (Finland), RUV (Island), SRF (Switzerland  German), Ikon (Holland), RTS (Switzerland french), SRC (Canada, french), VRT (Belgia), ORF (Austria), Eesti Rahvusringhääling (Estland), TVN Poland, Lithuanian  Radio and Television (Litauen), NEP – NHK Enterprises (Japan), Televisió de Catalunya, S.A. (Spain),