'Adú' Preview: 3 stories merge as Netflix's Spanish film traces the journey of migrants from Africa to Europe
As the world gets more connected and borders more fraught with geopolitical tensions, the 'hyperlink' cinematic genre seems best suited to tackle the complex subject of immigration
'Adú', set to premiere on Netflix on June 30, joins the annals of hyperlink cinema, like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 'Babel' and 'Traffic'. Hyperlink movies have multiple perspectives where the story jumps between several characters and their disparate plotlines that converge by the time the film ends. As the world gets more connected and borders more fraught with geopolitical tensions, the genre seems best suited to tackle the complex subject of immigration. Mimicking the way we navigate the WorldWideWeb, hyperlink jumps from one story to another, just as we jump from webpage to webpage through 'links'. The synopsis of the film reveals that 'Adú' interlinks three stories that tell the story of immigration from both sides of the fence.
According to director Salvador Calvo, the film is an attempt to depict “an extremely dramatic subject, but without doing pornography of pain". Inspired by the "real stories" of border crossings, the film's star is child actor Moustapha Oumarou. He plays the role of the titular Adú, who after a series of unfortunate events has to flee with his sister Alika. In a desperate attempt to reach Europe, they crouch before an airstrip in Cameroon, to sneak into an airplane's cargo hold.
On the way, Adú, separated from his sister, befriends Massar, a resourceful boy who he teams up with to survive. The key highlights of the film are the cinematic locations across Northern Africa as Adú's adventures take him towards the European border. According to Calvo, making this film fulfilled his life-long "dream about filming in Africa".
The second story is of environmental activist Gonzalo, also in Cameroon, who discovers a dead elephant, its tusks hacked off by poachers. As he gears up to take on the poachers, he also has to deal with his estranged daughter Sandra, who has just arrived from Spain. Thousands of kilometers to the north, in Melilla, Mateo is one of the civil guards guarding the fenced border. He witnesses his partner, Javi, club a man trying to jump over the fence, who falls to his death. Seeing him fall, the furious crowd of migrants then begin an assault on the fence.
Subsequently, a judicial inquiry is set up to probe the incident and Mateo has to decide how he will testify. While these three stories are linked by a central theme of immigration, none of its protagonists know that their destinies are linked and their lives will no longer be the same when their paths cross. The film attempts to put a face and voice to the "immigration problem" that often gets buried in the politics of narrow nationalism. The human tragedy of countless lives in peril is obscured until we see a little boy's body on the beach.
The true adventures of Adou, an 8-year-old boy, discovered inside a suitcase thanks to a scanner at the customs of Tarajal in Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta is one of the 'ripped from the headline' stories the film's script took inspiration from. Calvo, before directing the film, also had access to the testimonies of migrants to the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR) in Gran Canaria.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures Spain, the film is a timely look at stories from both sides of a fenced border and should be on your watch list.
'Adú' premieres on June 30 on Netflix.