Chronicles of migrant life reveal hardships

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Chronicles of migrant life reveal hardships


Scenes from “Peace Tree.

Directing a film was not on Alam Mahbub’s agenda when he came to Korea in 1998 as a migrant worker, but this 30-year-old Bangladeshi found himself using a camera to make a documentary about his fellow migrants. His film, “The Deported” is to be screened at the second Migrant Worker Film Festival. Mahbub is also the director of the festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday at the Seoul Art Cinema.
“Migrant workers in Korea are described either as pitiful low-class workers or criminals, which is not true,” Mahbub said in smooth Korean. “I am inviting Koreans to develop a better understanding of migrant workers and their humanity.”
The film festival will present a total of 38 films by and about migrant workers from various countries. To maximize their audience, Mahbub and his fellow organizers have made sure that each film has both Korean and English subtitles. For those who speak neither language, there will be plot summaries provided in six different languages including Vietnamese and Chinese.
The opening film is “A Day Without a Mexican” by Sergio Arau, a sharp satire of the reality facing migrant workers in California. The film takes place on a day when all the Latino workers in Los Angeles have vanished. The festival also has sections such as “Migration and Labor,” with feature films, many of them documentaries, which offer an in-depth look at the issues facing migrant workers in various parts of the world. The “Migration and Women” and “Migration and Children” sections look at specific issues, such as brides in less-affluent Southeast Asian countries who choose their husbands out of financial necessity rather than love.


“Nasi,”right, which are among the films being presented at the second Migrant Worker Film Festival, which opens tomorrow in Seoul. Provided by the organizers

After the screenings at the Seoul Art Cinema, Mahbub will travel around Korea with some of the festival’s films until October, seeking audiences among migrant workers who cannot get to Seoul. He will visit nine cities including Ansan, Yongin, Uijeongbu and Yeosu where Mahbub believes there are many migrant workers.
Mahbub noted that the festival is taking place at a time when the immigration office is continuing its crackdown on illegal immigrants. “I hope the film festival will be a chance to debate a range of issues facing migrant workers,” he said.

The Seoul Art Cinema (02) 741-9782 is in Insa-dong, Central Seoul and can be reached from the Jongno 3-ga station, lines No. 1, 3 and 5. For details, visit, which provides information in Korean and English.

By Chun Su jin []

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