// Presented as part of January's In Transit Series //
Boris Lojkine / 2014, Cannes, Alliance Française French Film Festival - New Zealand, Angers European First Film Festival, Busan, Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur, French Cinema Today Festival - Russia, Lisbon - French Film Festival, Hamburg, Istanbul, Montreal International Black Film Festival, Richmond French Film Festival, Tübingen - Stuttgart, Zurich / 86'
Leonard is a young man from Cameroon crossing the Sahara desert en route to Europe. After a punishing day of walking, a fellow traveler in the caravan is revealed to have been a woman passing as a man. Unlike the others, Hope is from Nigeria and her status within the group is now threatened, a matter made worse when she is singled out by a passing group of soldiers then left for dead. Leonard brings Hope to a refugee encampment in Morocco where she poses as his wife, binding their fate to reach Europe together.
Capturing the hostile landscape of the Sahara with haunting beauty and bracing naturalism, Hope weaves a tale of love and survival. Documentarian Boris Lojkine's first narrative feature premiered at Busan, Istanbul, and Zurich; Hamburg, where it won the Critics Award; and Cannes' Semaine de la Critique, where it won the SACD Award.
"[T]here's much to admire here in this scrupulously well-researched account of a Nigerian woman (Endurance Newton) and a Cameroonian man (Justin Wang) who partner up en route to Spain… Lojkine's documentarian eye for the textures and details of the lives of these dispossessed people is convincing throughout. He draws unself-conscious, robust performances from his entirely nonprofessional cast, especially the two naturally stately leads"
"[A] confident narrative debut… Shot in earthy shades of dusk and dawn, Elin Kirschfink's serene cinematography doesn't romanticize the landscape, but does find friezes of beauty in its severity. Extensive nighttime sequences might strike some viewers as overly dark, but their disorientation effectively mirrors that of the characters"
"Hope is one of the few films about undocumented immigrants to avoid treating the subject simply as a problem to dissect or debate. Instead, it immerses the viewer in the migrant experience"
- Dimitri Keramitas, Film Review, Bright Lights Film Journal
"Reality cinema for Boris Lojkine and a moving story of a desperate trip across Northern Africa by a Nigerian and a Cameroonian who dream of Europe… The film is as authentic as it is without compromise, from the falsification of passports to fake bank notes, immigrant community violence and crime, voodoo rituals, Christian premonitions and Muslim prayers. First and foremost, Hope offers a purely cinematic narrative line full of quality, founded in sobriety. It explores the silences, looks and profiles of its two main characters (charismatic amateur actors), a true challenge in such a brutal world. The incredible and moving realism that emerges reveals a director whose work should be kept an eye on"