In Europe, waves of immigrants––some political refugees fleeing wars; others fleeing a system that assumes a migration of capital without people––have renewed feelings of resentment towards people perceived as “outsiders.” Such political and economic uncertainty has led some politicians to search for scapegoats in traditionally ostracized communities like the Roma and Jews, as well as immigrant communities. Extremist voices are gaining political power, inspiring some Europeans to take to the streets to “claim back” their place. As a result, millions of people in Europe are feeling like strangers at home.
Unlike the alarmist and reductionist international coverage––it is not just “1938 all over again”––people in various European countries are responding locally to international policy: two wars in Iraq, an invasion of Afghanistan and Libya, hand-wringing in Syria, increasingly neo-liberal economic policy coupled with the European Union’s failure to create a harmonized immigration policy. Politics is cultural and culture is very often used to explain away politics (Mamdani, 2004). How this manifests depends on local contexts and realities; but too often traditional global journalism balks at such complexity. This desire for a simple, digestible narrative, is reflected in their reporting often leading to dangerous affects in subsequent policy discussions. Strangers at Home counters that narrative––highlighting the unfolding truths through stories of those living in messy realities (Adiche, 2009; King, 2003).
Strangers at Home––a nine segment “anthology documentary”––challenges traditional content and method. By working with a multiplicity of storytellers across different geographical, social, political and professional locations, Strangers at Home problematizes the simple narrative and embraces the complexity and nuance of this troubling trend . Through journalists, cartoonists, neo-fascists and every-day-youth, Strangers at Home provides a new means of reporting on such unfolding and multilayered issues. How is the rise of the right manifesting in different countries? Who is cast aside as the strangers, often in their own “home:” Roma, Jews, LGBT peoples, people with Muslim or Arab last names. Just as importantly––why is this happening? And how is this affecting, and affected, by the majority populations in these countries?
Strangers at Home was screened at the United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe and NYU; this is the first public screening in Canada.