Close Up
Director: Philippe Lioret | Countries of production: France | Year: 2009 | Length: 110 min
Language: French with English subtitles | Certificate: 15 Cert

‘Welcome’ confronts and unpicks the plight of refugees and asylum seekers who arrive illegally in Calais, a city in northern France that has become a transit point for those hoping to cross into the United Kingdom.

The film tells the story of a 17 year-old Iraqi-Kurd named Bilal, (Firat Ayverdi), who arrives in Calais after travelling on foot for three months, in the hope of reuniting with his girlfriend in England. He decides to swim across the English Channel – even though he’s unable to swim. Simon Calmat (Vincent Lindon), the local swimming instructor, who is in his own way struggling with feelings of displacement and personal unrest, agrees to train Bilal for his journey against the odds. The two soon form a strong bond that helps them in surprising ways.

An emotional and intriguing mix of social and personal drama that echoes some of the more low-key work of Ken Loach.
Little White Lies

This is compassionate and humane film-making.
The Times

Berlin International Film Festival, Winner

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