Senegalese Director Moussa Touré’s Film “La Pirogue” Chronicles A Fictional Journey Of Migration That Is All Too Real.
“La ou on va, c'est pas le paradis.“
Haunting and revealing words that capture both the tone of the film and the complex reality of the situation that provides its fictional but all to real storyline. It is at this point in the film that both the characters and viewers are, together, forced to confront the painful reality of the imminent dangers that are terrifyingly inevitable.
Pushed to desperation by the economic climate in their home country, a group of men and one woman, in a Senegalese coastal town depart in a ‘pirogue’ - a small fishing boat barely fit for tempestuous and unruly waters - in search of a new, and hopefully better, life in Spain.
Journeys such as this are never taken on a whim. Each and every single passenger on board is aware - to an extent - of the dangers of such a voyage, most notably the boat’s reluctant captain, fisherman Baye Laye (Souleymane Seye Ndiaye). Unlike many who capitalize on the desperation of migrants and refugees, Laye is in many ways as much a victim as his passengers. Survival lies at the very core of human existence, and in the stories of the film’s characters, but for many this everyday struggle leaves them with choices that degrade and strip them of their humanity.
As filmmaker Moussa Touré gives us the bits and pieces of the life stories of Laye and many of the film’s other characters, we move away from the desensitization of media reports and anti-immigrant rhetoric to an environment whereby a much more intimate relationship is forged between the viewer and various personalities in the film. Representing a microcosm of the troubling number of people who, daily, risk life and limb under similar circumstances, this humanizing element is perhaps the most important aspect of the film. By limiting the number of people ferried on this equality small boat, Touré personalizes this distressing experience. Confronted by this, Touré successfully highlights the humanity of the real-life individuals that have been reduced to numbers and sub-human masses.