To sum up the essence of stories encircling the emotional toll in this Australian limited series is difficult. But it spotlights the migrant crisis of our current era in an effective six-episode cycle. As our discernments go in terms of viewers, it’s pivotal to sift the reality of those situations we are horrified by, from the actual experiences of those who leave their contentious homelands behind to be stranded in a space that imprisons them further. That is the essence of Stateless.
It goes without saying that we live in a world where children are the most vulnerable in an amphitheater of hate and terror. This series makes that palpable.
Stateless is about parents and children bound and separated by this passage to the better world. The most poignant being Ameer (Fayssal Bazzi) and his daughter Mina’s (Soraya Heidari) reunion after losing two of their other family members to the sea, or Javad (Phoenix Raei) attempting, tooth and nail, to get back to his wife and two young kids. Helana Sawires and Yvonne Strahovski, on the other hand, play two women, Rosna and Sofie, who yearn to seek freedom after suffering physical indignities within their own spheres, the former bringing her share of fierceness and pathos as a Kurdish woman who has seen and endured the worst.
The latter, however, is the only Australian native whose fragmenting mental health and flight from a suffocating family bring her to the detention centre, smack in the middle of this setting where the personal becomes political for all migrants awaiting citizenship Down Under. The aspect that matches the intensity of these lives is the desert heat and dusty landscape, making it a literal No Man’s Land.
It’s an important series because it tells how one’s own home − and by extension homeland − becomes a mortal enemy when humanity is compromised by dint of unseemly social diktats. Brutally honest about its own national policies and the inadequacies associated with immigration, it draws from a whole catalogue of real-life cases.
Asher Keddie and Jai Courtney then add layers of humanity as members working within the system and ground down by its pressures and everyday struggles. The idea here is to see that everyone involved with immigration crises has a burden to carry; one that pins at justice and a sense of deliverance. But real life is much murkier than a belief to change circumstances on humanitarian grounds, for others who seek asylum.
In the end, an image of Mina watching sea waves reminds us of not only the passage by sea that so many migrants undertake, sometimes to no avail, but of the vast possibilities for humanity that a broken society nips in the bud. After all, Sofie, despite being a woman in her thirties, is essentially a child who never received love or appreciation from her cold parents and that transitioning of emptiness to adulthood brought her doom. That’s the impact that these intersecting tales invite. Stateless is, hence, a must watch for its pertinence and is personally invested in the minds of most of its actors who make up the diverse fabric of their native country Australia now. That journey through trauma is never forgotten here.
Stateless is available to watch now exclusively on Netflix
by Prithvijeet Sinha
Prithvijeet Sinha is from Lucknow, India. A regular contributor to Screen Queens, he lives for the beauty of poetry in moving images and translates them into stirring writings in verse and prose. He is also a dedicated cinephile.