The biggest upset at this year's Oscarfest occurred when this dark horse from Switzerland nabbed the honors for best foreign film from France's Cyrano de Bergerac
. Although Journey of Hope
had none of the swashbuckling bravado of its French competitor, it's understandable why Academy members voted for this simple film based on a true story about a Kurdish family illegally migrating to Switzerland. Wanting a better life for his family, Haydar -- a poor farmer living in Southeast Turkey -- decides to sell all of his possessions in pursuit of a dream of finding work in Switzerland, a place which a relative describes in a postcard as “paradise behind the mountains.” Paradise, however, is soon lost. For Haydar, his wife, and young son (the remainder of the family is left behind), the journey of hope becomes one of despair. Unscrupulous smugglers cheat them of their money; immigration officials block their path at every step; and the snow-covered Italian-Swiss border presents an obstacle overwhelming in its primal magnitude. Predictably fatalistic, Journey of Hope
is nonetheless moving in its depiction of these Kurdish refugees' struggle against the odds. (The recent headlines about the plight of the Kurds in Iraq give the movie even more resonance.) This film is one long cry of anguish. What's frustrating about Journey of Hope
is Haydar's failure to comprehend the ordeal in store for him and his family. At times, you want to shake him into realizing that his dream may have a price. That's the way of dreams: sometimes they become nightmares.