REDEYE presents: Limbo, a film about the bloom of friendship on hostile soil

REDEYE presents: Limbo, a film about the bloom of friendship on hostile soil

LIMBO is filmed on an expansive breathtaking Scottish landscape that allows us to feel the stretch of time across each shot. Somewhere in between lie four immigrants seeking asylum salvation. The overtones of humour are evident in how each character copes. The directing style is a deadpan delight, washing down their absurd experience and each response from our contributing artists is just as layered.

Our resident writer, Tilly Long, responds to the bloom of friendship on hostile soils. Divine Southgate-Smith, a 3D-artist who recently worked with Browns Fashion, beautifully captures movement in their response to LIMBO. And Yazid Benselka, aka badbad_immigrant, creates a playlist that strikes parallels between the LIMBO and their migration to Paris.

Intimate connections by Tilly

Odd bunch

On a remote fictional Scottish island where a group of refugees await the possibility of being granted asylum, we watch limbo in action. An in-between state of fleeing and arriving. While brilliantly stoic protagonist, Omar (Amir El-Masry), carries the plot forward in Limbo (2020), his flatmates are often the most moving and interesting to observe. Farhad (Vikash Bhai) has both a moustache and stolen pet chicken in honour of his hero, Freddie Mercury. Brothers, Wasef (Ola Orebiyi) and Abedi (Kwabena Ansah), argue over the former’s ambition to play for Chelsea football club and whether or not Ross and Rachel were actually on a break.

Tomorrow, there will be apricots

Limbo’s offbeat humour is consistently undercut with Wasef’s harsh truths. He bluntly asserts the position his new friends occupy within society: “We’re all male, single, low priority. Past our sell-by date.” This notion of yearning for something out of reach recurs when Omar explains the Arabic expression, “Bukra fil Mish-Mish” (Tomorrow, there will be apricots), used to refer to something that will never happen. Farhad sadly translates this to a sentiment that echoes a reality many refugees face hoping for a warm welcome on British soil: “in your dreams.”

Casting for friendship

This film connotes an absurdist tenderness of the heart that grows as we better understand these characters. It is a friend who peels your orange minutes after it lies nestled in your injured arm, unable to bend from its cast. It is he who shares your coat through winter, after choosing a ping pong bat from the donation centre instead of thermals. It is a secret recipe your mother echoes across the desolate landscape from an oddly placed payphone and the supermarket cashier who surprises you with that key ingredient – Sumac. It is obediently carrying your Oud everywhere you go, yet being unable to play it.

Migrating through landscapes with Divine

The characters’ connections determine how the camera moves us throughout the film. The camera’s minimal movement enforces the feeling of being in transit, feeling powerless, and only being able to observe. Divine Southgate-Smith is a Togo-born, well-travelled artist responding to how the film embodies this power of movement

Using similar sensibilities of movement in their practice. Their 3D-rendered landscapes of continual soft-paced movement through architecture contextualise their migratory history. It is often set against a combination of video research excerpts, sound design and spoken word that reflects Divine’s thoughts during those migratory periods. 

Unlike LIMBO, Divine is experienced and comfortable in their migration. So we follow their lead between the structures. The movement feels like dancing: instinctive, considered, seductive. It speaks to a general love for freedom of being. Of loving.

Dancing against Parisian landscapes with Yazid

We see each character constantly negotiating their dreams against their environment. Exacerbated by their shared living space, they shuffle their desires around to avoid encroaching on the others’. Yazid Benselka, a.k.a. badbad_immigrant, curated a playlist in response to LIMBO. It configures their dream and identity persevering within a similar migrant experience – moving to Paris from Algeria 4 years ago. 

Yazid’s response to Limbo is rich with diasporic culture, bustling with a daring spirit and irrespective of acceptance. You can feel badbad_immigrant dancing against a Parisian landscape. There is inexplicable freedom and fluidity to explore – if you can keep up without dislodging the LIMBO bar.

Writers: Tilly Long, Sarah Hawke, Fikayo Oloruntoba