BRWC Short Film Review: ILIA

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ILIA tells the story of amateur footballer TARIK BEN BRAHIM and how he used football to help a forgotten community of Afghan refugee children living in Shahr-e-Rey, Tehran.

Director Louis Chan has an interest in the places where different cultures overlap, as is apparent in his 2014 short Pastiche, and with ILIA he has moved from fiction to documentary. This film uses the football club as a window into the lives of Afghan refugees in Tehran.

ILIA consists of the elements necessary for a satisfying documentary. It has a good balance of situational footage and talking heads. The director does not include himself in the film (always a good move), allowing individuals – teachers, coaches, and children – to speak for themselves.



ILIA

ILIA

Ten minutes is the perfect length of time for this story. It is succinct yet emotive. Chan’s representation of the subject is more social than political. The fact that migration occurs as a result of civil war is touched upon, as well as the prevalence of addiction among male refugees, but ILIA is not about apportioning blame.

The footage of the club and the community is beautifully shot, creating a warm atmosphere. The result is compassionate. It is a testament to the positive results that can come from providing structure and purpose for vulnerable children in any society. I will be interested to see which direction Chan takes with future projects. Highly recommended.


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Esme Betamax is a writer and illustrator. Often found in the Cube Microplex. Favourites include: I ♡ Huckabees, Where the Buffalo Roam, Harold & Maude, Being John Malkovich and In the Shadow of the Moon.

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