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  1. voluntary return

    still from the film

    still from the film

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      still from the film

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      still from the film

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      Exhibition view WE ARE HERE BeCAUSE YOU WERE/ARE (t)HERE, das weisse haus, Vienna, Austria, 2014. Photo courtesy of eSeL (c).

    HD video, 16:9, stereo.
    English spoken.
    Duration: 24 minutes

    Documentary film. Single-channel projection on flat screen and mobile devices (accessible after scanning QR code).
    Audio recorded using VoIP technology.

    november 2014


    Over the years, Europe’s outward borders have transformed into filters, with the main objective of granting access to rights and privileges only to certain groups.

    Migrants from non-European countries are being excluded if they do not fit into certain desired profiles. Some of them come to Europe with valid temporary visas, but often end up disappearing from the official circuit and becoming undocumented.

    A young woman from the Philippines tells her story of coming to work in the Netherlands on an au pair visa in order to earn enough money to pursue her studies, but realising quickly that the agreed upon conditions in her working contract, as well as her expectations of learning about another culture, will be not met.

    She reflects upon the concept of the European Union and what are, for her, the symbols of Europe. It is a story of personal emancipation from restrictive settings and border regimes, and an attempt to make a living against all odds in one of the wealthy northern European countries. It is a story of dreams and expectations, of exploitation and disappointments, and at times, hard, life-changing decisions.

    The film was shot on location in the botanical gardens of Amsterdam, one of the oldest in the world. Originally, the botanical garden’s collection consisted of plants and seeds brought back in the 1600’s by merchants of the East India Company (VOC) – a colonizer that served as a prototype for the ‘First World’ capitalist multinational corporation.

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