Human Flow

Synopsis: Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II. Human Flow, an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact. Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey. Human Flow is a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice: from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed-wire borders; from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance and adaptation; from the haunting lure of lives left beh
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Ai Weiwei
Production: Amazon Studios and Participant Media
  6 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
140 min


[soft classical music playing]


[indistinct chatter]

Where's your mommy?

[woman] Okay.

[people chattering]

[children chattering]

[indistinct chatter]

[waves splashing]

[indistinct chatter continues]



[wind gusting]

[indistinct chatter]


It's very difficult to say.

Obviously, we don't have

a crystal ball to forecast,

but all the elements

that have driven people to flee

are still there.

The conflicts are still waging.

Syria, the biggest driver

of displacement,

is very much volatile. Uh...

Even though right now it's slow,

and over the past two days

there have hardly been

any arrivals,

but it's also extremely cold.

Winter has v-very much set in.

With the improvement of weather,

with coming of spring,

it's, uh, very likely that the

numbers will grow once more.

And it's difficult

to forecast how many,

but we should be prepared,

we should be prepared to receive

probably the numbers that

we have seen in 2015 again.

This extraordinary event

that has unfolded

has also impacted Europe

in many ways.

We are here, right now,

on Lesvos Island.

This is the point where

half a million people,

most of them refugees,

set foot and entered Europe.

An... An extraordinary way that

people have been coming through.

And just the last year alone,

over one million have come

to Europe through

the Mediterranean Sea.

And although these are movements

we haven't seen in decades...

In fact, it hasn't been since

the Second World War

that so many had fled

and come to Europe...

It's still something

that we need to consider

in the global context

with so many millions

that are actually displaced.

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[boy speaking in Arabic]

[boy grunting]

[bird cawing]

[birds and crickets chirping]


[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]


[train horn]

[indistinct chatter]

- [train horn blowing]

- [train brakes squealing]

[indistinct chatter]

[Bouckaert] The situation

in the camp is bad,

because the borders

are all closed now.

First, the Macedonian border

was closed.

Then the Slovenian and Croatian

and Serbian borders were closed.

So there is no way

for these people to advance

on their journey

to try to get to Germany.

They're now trapped here.

There is about 13,000

people in this camp.

Most of them are from Syria,

Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are fleeing from war.

Uh, I talked to people

who just fled from the bombs

just a few weeks ago.

And they're trapped.

It's been raining since Monday.

Everybody is completely wet.

They have no way

to dry their clothes.

Um, just to get a little bit

of food sometimes...

It takes two hours

to get one cup of soup.

So it really is

a desperate situation.

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct conversation

in Arabic]

[rain pattering]


So through this little gate,

last year more than

a million people

walked their way to Europe.

This is the gate

that they pass through

along these railway tracks,

going first through Macedonia,

then to Serbia,

then through Croatia.

A million people

walked through this gate.

- [horses snorting]

- [police radio chatter]

[Halmosi] [in foreign language]

How long are you on duty today?


Europe is an interesting case,

because Europe of course

is the continent

where the refugee convention

was born.

This was one of the essential,

crucial initiatives

that came out

of the Second World War

and of the horrors of the war.

Initially, the focus

was very much on Europe.

It's interesting that

we have gone full circle

and now the focus

is again on Europe.

But 1951, of course, one

of the main refugee problems,

or perhaps the main problem then

was refugees

coming across the Iron Curtain.

So there was a strong focus

on individual cases

fleeing the Soviet bloc.

[helicopter whirring]

[indistinct chatter]


The European member states

traditionally have had

very good asylum mechanism.

This was happening

in a smooth way

when numbers were small.

When people started

coming in large numbers,

then the system collapsed.

[helicopter whirring]

[faint indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[duck quacking]

[man yelling in Arabic]

Should be taking...

Take a picture of him like this.


- Sorry.

- Yes.

You know,

Jordan historically, um,

has been truly

a crossroads for peoples.

Um, whether it's... it's from

antiquities with caravans

or today as a host for people

from throughout this region.

And we have tried to play a role

in keeping an open door

and enabling people

to find a refuge here.

Um, a-and to retain, you know,

some sense of dignity,

a home, until they are able

to return to, um, their homes.

You know, the average stay

I think of a refugee

is 25 years

or... or some number like that.

A-And this humanitarian side

I think is very, very important.

You must always

hold onto humanity.

And the more immune

you are to people's suffering,

I think that's

very, very dangerous.

And we... You know,

our region is very challenging.

We have difficulties every

which direction you look at.

And I think it's critical for us

to maintain this humanity,

for our own... you know,

the health of our own society

and community and relations.

[truck engine revving]

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Chin-Chin Yap

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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