David Knight - 31st Jan 2017

Made last year, and an award-winner at the DNBA Awards 2016, but Sil Van Der Woerd's video for Noisia's Mantra is arguably more relevant than ever as we enter the dark era of Trump.

The Dutch director has chronicled the truth of the refugee experience in a way that's both harshly realistic and figurative. The shoot involved working with real refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan, together with dancers, and shot in Sicily and the Netherlands, recreating the journeys that all of them had faced.

The effect of the having dancers among the real refugees could have been a trite move, but it works superbly well in visualising the psychological effect of facing extreme danger and potential death on the journey to, what they hope will be safe harbour.


"Except for two of the three dancers and the two cops, all the characters in the video are portrayed by actual refugees. They fled from Afghanistan, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria. Some fled from wars, others had economic reasons. All the refugees spent some part of their journey on a boat. Some 'only' a few hours, others as long as 7 days. Often without enough water and food.

"The video was shot on Arri Alexa, the underwater scenes were shot on 5D MarkIII. In the Netherlands we filmed one day in an indoor pool and in the back of a moving truck. The rest of the video was filmed with a mini crew for four days in Sicily. The night boat scenes were filmed in a special pool where dangerous situations are recreated. We asked 9 refugees to go back on a boat. But this time the waves were only one meter tall, the water was warm and there were security divers in the water.  

"The rest of the video was filmed in Sicily. Refugees who arrived at or were brought to Lampedusa were often sent on to Porto Empedocle, and then to the village Siculiana, where they would stay 1 to 4 weeks before being relocated. In the first hour of filming in Sicily we were stopped 5 times by different kinds of police and the army. The next day, our Italian producer arranged a meeting with the local major and we got permissions to shoot practically anywhere.

The refugees surprised us with their willingness and positivity while recreating some of the intense parts of their journey. And we shared several dinners with them. They would share their stories which were often daggers to the heart. They were often mixed with stories of joy.

"The painting featured in the video is made by Syrian refugee Khattar Shaheen, who is also seen in the video. Khattar is an artist who currently lives in Arnhem, the Netherlands. The painting is for sale. All proceeds will go to Khattar. The tents that were used were donated to a nun who helps the refugees. The video is produced by OAK MotionPictures and is funded by Vision Recordings and TAX videoclipfonds."

PRO Credits


DirectorSil Van Der Woerd
ProducerAngelo Schuurman
Production CompanyOak Motion Pictures
Director of PhotographyEmo Weemhoff
EditorSil Van Der Woerd

David Knight - 31st Jan 2017

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