Documentary Paradise Without People follows the painstakingly difficult process of asylum for two Syrian families.
The families, both residing and raising families in Greek refugee camps, await the details of their immigration into Europe with considerable unease. Determined for better, both families look upon the grace of a host country to grant them refuge – the ideal outcome for many Syrian immigrants being in the relocation to Germany.
Director Francesca Trianni isn’t interested in depicting life-after-war, but the deep-seated isolation that comes with war-torn diaspora. No better is this expressed than in the actions of Mohannad; a husband and father of two children whose desire to move to Germany – brought on by concerns over the acceptance of the hijab elsewhere – risks the livelihood of his family.
The escape from war-torn Syria acts as a constant reminder for both families of the lives left behind. The haunting details of this realised in phone-calls that function to provide updates on air-strikes and other acts of war.
This constant state of fear is somewhat mitigated through Trianni’s lavish presentation of food; a theme which denotes the importance of remaining connected to one’s heritage.
Trianni presents the passage of time in terms of seasons. The result acknowledges the lengthy and arduous reality for people seeking asylum. We watch with bated optimism the steady improvement of both families’ livelihoods; transposed from refugee camps (the compact state of which being hardly liveable) to government housing.
It is through Trianni’s conscientious gaze where Paradise Without People presents freedom not just in terms of safety from war, but in a quality of living built on community and cultural identity.