A hard-hitting film based on testimonies from migrants about their experiences in Libyan detention centers has now been released. The Dead Sea is the latest film written and directed by Stuart Gatt, and it is supported by Doctors without Borders and Human Rights at Sea.
The film follows a group of refugees that are returned to Libya after almost reaching Europe. On their return, they are incarcerated in one of the nation’s infamous migrant detention centers where human rights abuses are rife.
“I tried in many ways to remove my opinion of the crisis and focus solely on the showing the reality and allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions,” says Gatt. “I believe inherently though, that by just making the film, people will ask 'why do we not know more about the refugees from Libya?' and in that sense, it will have achieved its purpose in shining a light on those that are refugees just like any other.”
The Dead Sea was conceived by Gatt during the height of the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015. With thousands dying trying to cross the Mediterranean, European governments continued the suggested action of sending them back to Libya to Italian-backed migrant camps. Gatt had been researching reports by Human Rights Groups into abuses that took place there and felt compelled to show the reality of the experiences of those returned to the Libyan camps.
A Kickstarter campaign was run to help raise production funds and charities Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights at Sea helped push the campaign out to their network to aid the fundraising. A significant portion of the total budget was successfully raised.
“I believe as a human being, we should care about all suffering, irrespective of where they come from in the world,” says Gatt. “We know much about Syrian refugees but very little about African refugees and in particular, Libya, where affluent and highly educated Sub-Saharan African's are now exposed to modern day chattel slavery since the fall of Gaddafi.
“More importantly though, as a British Citizen, it's important for us to be responsible for our actions, and we were one of the countries involved in imposing regime change in Libya that now facilitates the horrific circumstances that befall our two lead characters in the film. I felt it important to show the reality, no matter how brutal, of the voiceless and often demonized refugees fleeing that part of the world.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.