No Human Is Illegal (2018)
Completed in 2018 and filmed entirely on the Greek island of Lesvos, NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL is a documentary about what is perhaps one of the darkest and most seminal political historical events of the start of the 21st century: the founding of a zone of exclusion within the Eurozone. The spring of 2018 marked the second anniversary of the European Commission, the ruling body of the Eurozone, radically revising its policy regarding undocumented migrants arriving on the Aegean islands of Greece. At that time the European Commission declared undocumented migrants arriving on the Aegean islands would be sent back to Turkey. Filmmaker Richard C. Ledes and his small crew arrived a few weeks later on the island of Lesvos—the main point of entry from Turkey into Europe. They began interviewing asylum seekers, mainly from Syria but from elsewhere as well, experiencing for the first time being detained indefinitely in Europe, many of them in horrendous conditions of overcrowding. The filmmaker connects his own family's experience as Pontian Greeks who left Turkey for the United States as refugees in the 1920s to the current situation of asylum seekers on the island. Through stunning cinematography of the island's natural beauty and archaeological ruins shot by Italian cinematographer Valentina Caniglia, Ledes connects the island's literary and historical importance in ancient Greece to the current conditions of refugees and the importance to Europe of what is happening to these people detained on its borders. These poetic and political leaps combined the compassion of the volunteers, the conflicting responses of the people living on the island and the testimony of the refugees themselves create a vital record of this major confrontation between Europe's ideals and its current choices.