The refugee crisis has captured the imagination of many film-makers from around the world. Most directors have concentrated on the migrants themselves. Their plight, which has received extensive coverage across news channels and media outlets, has formed the basis of countless narrative and non-fiction films. However, the best way to tackle and issue isn’t always head on. This is the case in Christian Petzold’s daring new film Transit.
As the Nazis close in, Georg (Franz Rogowski) makes a last-minute decision to flee from Paris to Marseilles. He assumes the identity of a dead writer and heads south where the promise of safe passage to Mexico awaits. Whilst he has a birth on a ship, he needs to arrange transit to the Central American country before travel is allowed. As he waits for this to come through, he loiters around the seafront hotels, bars and cafes socialising with fellow refugees. Fate throws him in the path of Richard (Godehard Giese) and the mysterious Marie (Paula Beer).
Transit is an ingenious and bold film. One which blurs past and present to place those fleeing fascist occupation into the shoes of those who find themselves without a home. Georg is confounded at every step; whatever he does is seemingly destined for failure. By using the rise of the Third Reich as his canvas, Petzold asks his audience to look at the current crisis from a different angle. Transit is audacious art and scintillating contemporary cinema.
Transit is in cinemas and on demand from 16 August.