For the last months, with lockdown making cinemas out of bounds, the evenings have passed in a fog of mediocre films on Netflix. But one stands out – and continues to haunt me. Adú, a Spanish film directed by Salvador Calvo, left me in awe and in tears. Three parallel stories run in the film made for Netflix – each merits a film of its own – but the main story is of six-year-old Adú, forced to flee his native Cameroon when he and his sister find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Witnessing the brutal slaughter by poachers of an elephant, the siblings have to bolt from their home that night when the poachers come looking for them and murder their mother. The two set off on a tortuous journey to find their father in Spain.
Moustapha Oumarou is brilliant as Adú, displaying a gamut of emotions that makes you think you’re watching documentary not fiction. The penultimate scene is heart-wrenching when the wonderful Massar, another migrant who befriends Adú and protects him on the journey, is torn from him in a cruel but sadly-so-true act by the authorities. Little Adú’s terror and despair is worthy of an Oscar. The film, a clear comment on the unfairness of European immigration policy, does not make for easy watching. But I hope this film is seen not only by us socially-distanced couch potatoes but also by policy makers responsible for European immigration law – it might make them respond differently to those who embark on these tragic journeys.
Volume 35 no 2 November / December 2020