This documentary follows the story of Cyrille Kabore, a refugee who had fled from a massacre in his home country (undisclosed).
The eerie setting of a mannequin factory flooded with what sounds like an mbira is where we being our journey. As these faceless polymorphs are painted and assigned positions, numbers, and features that seem meaningless to us, they uncannily represent the loss and lack of identity for those who have had to flee from their homeland due to ethnic or religious persecution, prejudice, or genocide.
As Cyrille tells his story, a series of images are provided in various locations within the factory, reinforcing the imagery of the loneliness, lack of identity, and innumerability of the persons who must flee for their lives. This imagery utilizing the mannequins also speaks to the ease of making a mannequin–the ease of making a refugee. With the proper tools and money, machines–governments or ideologies–can be created to kill. Kill dreams. Kill aspirations. Kill ethnicities. Kill humanity.
Below are some screenshots of various points within the film where the mannequins strengthened the pathos of the message.
This image below captures the objectification that comes with being packed into freight. To be jam packed with people means to have most likely no room to move, stifling air, and a gradual loss in one’s grasp of freedom. These mannequins are placed in such a close proximity that visualize to an extent the compact settings the people are forced to bear if they want a chance at their freedom.
This shot below gives even more life to the words that already carry so much weight. Cyrille was holding onto the underside of a truck for so long that he contemplated welcoming his death by letting go. The mannequins’ hands are open and dangling, limp and resting. Though these arms may hang freely from the hinges and hooks that hold them up, had Cyrille allowed his hands to rest he would have met his fate on the pavement.
This image in the film not only shows the movement of the paper with the wind, but here Cyrille describes what was in his immediate memory as he awoke after falling to the ground the truck finally came to a halt. One thing jarring is that these signs are on cages. These signs translate to say inventory. This inventory alludes to the fact that a majority of these many people may come to meet their fate in holding cell, numbered, caged as to scratch away any indication of being a human being with agency over their current social status.
This mannequin has not been carved a full face, and even if it had, there are multitudes of others that will end up looking just like it. At this point, Cyrille describes being at the camp where those who have fled their various locales to seek freedom and better lives have been funneled into a numerical system of identification and all treated at subhuman value.
This final image is revealed when Cyrille discuss being a reject not only in his home country, but also in the new land where he seeks justice and a livelihood. This scene is accompanied by rhythmic drums, the drums resemble a marching sound. Marching to me and many others mean unison and commonality. This commonality is for hatred and the unrelenting glares from these mannequins convey that hatred and disgust with Cyrille’s (lack of) identity and entrance into their land.