Director Thomas Østbye’s documentary “Imagining Emanuel” asks the questions: Who are you without any form of ID? Could you prove the facts of your own life?
The Emanuel in the title of the film arrived in Norway in 2003, claiming to be from Liberia without any identification or piece of tangible evidence of who he was. But Norwegian authorities believed he came from Ghana. He was then sent back to where they believed he was from (Ghana), only to be rejected by the Ghanaian authorities and then sent back to Norway. This back-and-forth happened twice. Without the means to do so, refugee claimant Emanuel wasn’t able to convince anyone of who he really was. Despite his detailed account of stowing away in the rudder of a cargo ship bound for Norway, officials there simply refused to buy his hard luck story of life back in Liberia, thus leaving him in complete limbo, at the center of an embarrassing bureaucratic scandal – a stateless stranger refused by multiple countries and confined to a deportation facility.
“Imagining Emmanuel” tells his story.
Screening at the Copenhagen Internation Documentary Film Festival, here’s what they have to say about the film: “Filmmaker Thomas Østbye skillfully composes the man’s perplexing condition, contrasting footage of his everyday activities with portrait-like shots that frame him, not as a person, but as society perceives him: an object for examination. ‘Rashomon’ meets real life in this fascinating investigation of what constitutes truth and identity.”
Needless to say, I’m intrigued and would love to check this out.
Teaser trailer below: