The mood in Bulgaria was ugly and there were frequent physical attacks on refugees and violent protests by nationalists in front of the camp. The police chose to protect the angry demonstrators rather than the refugees.
The situation became intolerable and the family moved on to Serbia. There, they found the camps full and the family had to sleep on an abandoned building site. The falling snowflakes are seen transforming Belgrade into a white winter landscape. The next station on their journey was the Krnjaca refugee camp, where it was possible to register for transit to Hungary.
The wait was long, but they hoped to spare themselves a further illegal border crossing. What followed could be carefree winter images with snowmen, snowball fights and New Yearʹs fireworks. But the wait seemed endless – weeks and months went by and finally a whole year passed. The film records how the daughters have grown. Narges dances to Michael Jacksonʹs "Black and White", while Fatima learns to ride a bicycle.
More than just a mobile phone documentary
Several refugee documentaries filmed with mobile phones have been released already, such as the German WDR documentary Meine Flucht/ My Escape, the six-part migration documentary "The Journey" and the film "Escape from Syria: Raniaʹs Odyssey" produced by the Guardian newspaper. They are all impressive documentaries of contemporary events, but "Midnight Traveler" stands out as a unique piece of cinema.
Not content to merely document the ordeals of refugees during their flight, Hassan Fazili has produced an entertaining and beautiful film. With an eye for the many brief moments, details, moods, sunsets, the fleeting glimpses of everyday family life, not to mention the moments of happiness and joy and the charm and wit of his own family, Fazili demonstrates unique filmic talent.
Is this then the refugee escape as an adventurous family outing? Eldest daughter Narges is so vivacious and curious on the journey that one might be forgiven for thinking she is enjoying herself. Yet, despite the many challenges they face, there is only one thing that Narges finds truly upsetting. "I am bored," she bursts out suddenly – as if this were the worst ordeal she could face.