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Foreign Film - Belgium - Illegal

Amazon page
Amazon page

Anne Coessens
Directed by Olivier Masset-Depasse
French Russian with English subtitles
Belgium 2010
Film movement 2011

Illegal is an excellent foreign film DVD but you have to get used to the director almost always placing an obstacle in the frame. Like many other Film Movement titles Illegal won a few film festival awards such as Best Actress, Best Director, or Best Feature in Critic’s Week at Cannes. It is an original human drama that tells a story not often presented on the big screen.

Anne Coessens plays Tania, a Russian who has been in Belgium illegally for the last five years. One day she is stopped in the street and discovered. She is then taken to a detention center while awaiting deportation.

Tania refuses to give the authorities anything, not even her name, so that they will not learn about her son. She spends her days at the center either waiting or working odd jobs in exchange for phone cards she uses to talk to her son.

Another refugee tells her if she can outlast the authorities for fifty days they will be forced to set her free. That is what Tania decides to do.

Illegal portrays an odd system where some people care and others abuse their power. One detainee always comes back beaten up from her trip to the investigator.

The movie does not judge what is happening, preferring instead to present it as cinema verite. It works.

All film Movement DVD include a short film. Here it is Rita by Italian directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza.  Rita is a blind tweenager who is home alone one day when a stranger breaks in. This allows her to do something she’s always wanted to do. The ending is very odd.

Film Movement titles we especially like:

France - Her Name Is Sabine / Son nom est Sabine - Documentary
Mexico - The Violin
Australia - Noise

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