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Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan is eerily prophetic and timely. The winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Dheepan is named for the main character, a fighter for the extremist Tamil Tigers. Dheepan is played by former Tiger fighter, Antonythasan Jesuthasan. The rest of the cast is also made up of nonprofessional and inexperienced actors.

At the outset of the movie, we learn that Dheepan wishes to flee Sri Lanka and seek asylum elsewhere; he is unable to bear more losses or the atrocities that he finds himself participating in. He secures passports for a new family identity and is joined by a woman and child who agree to flee as a unit.

Strangers to each other, the “family” arrives in France each in search of peace, anonymity, and a chance to start again, separate from each other if necessary. In squalid and gang-controlled tenements, the family tries to survive from day to day. The wounds of their past are kept open by the terror of their new reality.

A challenge to watch, this film portrays the desperation and hope that lead refugees to take great risks, as well as the cruel disappointment when the new country does not deliver the community, culture, and security they need to begin a new life. The glimpse at a hopeful ending is a reminder that safety and a warm welcome are elusive but necessary for these refugees’ well-being, and we are called to help provide these things. (IFC)

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