"Isabella Alexander is an artist with a passion. And her passion has a purpose." - Erin Bernhardt, Award-winning Filmmaker and Director of The Art Farm
"As an anthropologist, I've spent many years living in hidden forest camps that have housed hundreds of thousands of African migrants and refugees awaiting their chance at crossing to a better tomorrow – men, women, and children who survive under desperate conditions before attempting to scale a treacherous ring of razor-wire fences that separate Morocco from the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. These Spanish enclaves bring Europe within the confines of the African continent. They also position Morocco as the primary crossing point for African migrants and refugees who are prepared to risk it all.
For the first time this summer, I returned to Morocco's hidden forest camps as not only an anthropologist, but as a documentary filmmaker. I returned with a camera and the goal of bringing home a different kind of story. I knew that through film I would be able to access broader audiences and give the individuals who are trapped at the core of the current Migrant and Refugee Crisis a chance to tell their stories in their own words. But what I didn’t know was how my camera would open up new depths for me as a researcher, too.
Individuals like Phino, Yasmine, and Bambino were eager to give narrative to the unseen crisis that is unfolding on the other side of Europe's borders. They shared their journeys with remarkable courage, vulnerability, and humor. What came as the biggest surprise to me was that they were even more open with you – their future audiences – than they had been with me. I arrived to Morocco concerned about how my camera would make it more difficult for me, the anthropologist, to camouflage myself in the camps that I had spent so much time in over the years. But I left Morocco confident that the camera presents an opportunity that my pen and paper had not. It presents the opportunity for migrants and refugees to become their own storytellers."
Continue reading and see more images from my recent research trip here!