Gifts from Babylon

Gifts from Babylon
A Short film by Bas Ackermann, Emiel Martens & Babucarr Manka
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Project Information

About the project
LOCKLINEWhen Amadou returns to The Gambia after 5 years of living illegally in Babylon, Europe, he is changed far more than his family had wished for...

Gifts from Babylon is a 10-minute short film exploring the impact of Africa-EU migration through the lens of a Gambian return-migrant. The film captures the personal and cultural conflicts that arise when Amadou, a young West African, returns to his home country after having lived illegally in the once promised paradise, Europe.

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ABOUT THE PROJECT

 

WHAT?

Gifts from Babylon is a 10-minute short film showing the return of an African migrant after having lived illegally in Babylon for five years. Babylon is the name that is often used in West Africa when referring to Europe, the idealized destination of many young West Africans when taking the so-called backway, the dangerous and illegal journey to Europe across deserts and high seas.

The main character is Amadou, a 28-year old Gambian who took the backway when he was in his early twenties. Back then, he stole money from local gang leader Jimmy to cross the desert by truck and ended up in a smuggler’s boat to Europe. Now, five years later he returns to his home country, to reunite with his family and friends. After a harsh life of hustling on the streets of Italy and the Netherlands, Amadou comes back to the Gambia as a changed man – a bluffing man his family and friends can’t get along with. On top of that, the debts he left behind have not been forgotten by local gang leader Jimmy. While suffering from intense flashbacks of his Babylon life in Europe, and experiencing the poverty and insecurity of African ghetto life all over again, he wonders what has become of him…

WHY?

Although the current refugee crisis has generated public attention and policy action, the scope, nature and development of illegal Africa-EU migration are still poorly understood. Moreover, the personal impacts of migration are often overlooked, while the issue of return-migration remains understudied. This all particularly applies to The Gambia, where a disproportionately high number of youngsters take the backway, the journey through deserts and high seas illegal immigrants undertake to reach Europe (usually via Libya and Italy), and where return-migration has recently become more attractive with the restoration of democracy under the new president. Gifts of Babylon aims to become a catalyst for understanding, awareness and dialogue about the complex (and often misunderstood) issue of migration and return-migration among (West) Africans and Gambians in particular.

 

WHO?

Gifts from Babylon is a collaboration between Dutch filmmaking duo Bas Ackermann (director) and Emiel Martens (producer) on the one hand, and Alhagie and Babucar Manka of Gambia’s leading production house, State of Mic, on the other hand.

 

HOW?

Gifts from Babylon will mostly be shot in The Gambia, West Africa. Together with Gambia’s leading production company, State of Mic, we will produce the short film in the next year. After almost ten years of experience, network and friendship, Bas has in State of Mic a solid media team that is able to organize and navigate quickly, and ready to enter the feature film industry.

Our short film will be shot in December 2017 to premiere at Movies that Matter in March 2018, the Amnesty International human rights film festival in The Hague that has supported our film from the onset.

Gifts from Babylon is envisioned to eventually become a full feature-length film, the first professional feature film to come out of The Gambia. In the independent film world, funding is scarce, that’s why we use the common strategy to make a short version to pitch a feature of the film first, for further funding.

For the short film we won the Your Movie Matter pitch and receive a matching €3000 funds from the city of The Hague. Together with the crowdfunding this will be used to produce the short film version of Gifts from Babylon.

Quote that inspired the maker

'Gifts from Babylon is inspired from the true stories of my childhood friends and portrays the life that follows after a long journey by many young Africans of chasing the European dream.'
Babucarr Manka