Nice To Meet You Review
"This film lasts 50 minutes. The asylum seekers have lived in asylum camps for up to 7 years." As a means of getting the audience's attention to the plight of those depicted in the film that follows, Nice To Meet You begins with this simple but effective method. What follows thereafter, though, is no less effective. The slow pace of the film is deliberate. Instead of illustrating the plight of Iraqis who fled their home country earlier this decade with shots of the first and second Gulf Wars, Nice To Meet You is unflinching in its depiction of the Red Cross Camp in which refugees live in Denmark. Thin walls separate rooms, the shop and the canteen remain out of bounds and, everywhere, these Iraqi refugees wait for news of their applications for residency.
The problem that many of those interviewed for the film has is of their being told that their country is safe while, on the televisions that play silently behind them, the news headlines relate news of daily killings in Iraq. Unfortunately, their being prevented from leaving the Red Cross camp in which they live is neither home nor a new life. They refuse to leave for Iraq but are refused entry to Denmark. The police ask them when they're going home. The Red Cross offer them training courses in English but these are rejected. As the refugees ask, not unreasonably, why would they learn English when they are not living in England. No answer is provided. The most telling moment is when one of the interviewees produces a well-thumbed Danish-Arabic dictionary. He talks about using it a lot when he first arrived. "But," as he continues, "I haven't used it for a long time."
In Avnstrup, the camp shown in Nice To Meet You, families live three or four to a room. They are paid pocket money of 83 krone but everything in the Avnstrup chemist costs more than it would outside. A toothbrush costs 13kr in the store in Avnstrup but two can be bought for 10kr in the nearby Netto. Meals are provided but in the one instance of us seeing what it is the families are offered, the elderly couple look as though they would rather the filmmakers could take it away from them than watch them stomach it. Later in the film, there's a moment of some happiness when the authorities permit them access to the canteen to prepare food more fitting to their own tastes. However, as they do so, the radio plays a news report from the Danish Parliament in which political parties acknowledge that while this will make life more tolerable for those in Avnstrup, it is not intended to discourage those living in the camp from wanting to return home.
"I wish I had a home and a life." Nice To Meet You ends on that note, with the faces of children implying that no one in Avnstrup would return home to an Iraq as it currently is. Of course, there is something of the film appealing to the sympathies of its audience by using the faces and voices of innocent children. But, by the time, we see them, children are no longer necessary to appeal to the audience's wish to see an end to the aimless existence of life in Avnstrup. Director Fenar Ahmad accomplished that much earlier in the fifty minutes of Nice To Meet You.
Interlaced and non-anamorphically presented on DVD with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Nice To Meet You remains sharp enough on a small screen, where, unfortunately, it looks smaller still but doesn't do so well on a larger television. Everything in the film suggests that this fault comes with the production of the DVD rather than the making of the original documentary, which looks well-made and reasonable throughout. Certainly, Ahmad avoids any tricks in the making of his documentary, which leaves for an often stationary picture. This reduces any problems with the encoding but still the picture is still fairly hobbled by the interlacing and non-anamorphic image.
The sound, in Linear PCM with an Arabic language track and a choice of English or Danish subtitles, is pretty good. Like the picture, there's nothing much to get excited about but with the exception of a radio commentary and two pieces of music that break up the film, it refrains from showing off, being solid and is largely free of background noise.
The only bonus material on this DVD is a series of nine still images lasting for 44s from the film.
As a final note, Nice To Meet You doesn't seem to be carried by any online retailers. In spite of this, it is available direct from Beofilm, whose website is at http://www.beofilm.dk. Information on the film is available there as well as a Youtube channel dedicated to the company, where clips from their films are available to view online. Finally, to buy Squat 69, please visit the Beofilm shop directly.