A budget-conscious independent feature length humanitarian film about the distance humans will go for the hope of a better life…
Inspired by True Events
Written & Directed by Matt Boda
Just living is not enough...one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
- Hans Christian Andersen
A harrowing epic about a group of North African migrants trying to flee poverty only to end up abandoned and trapped inside a shipping container in the torrid Libyan desert...
Conceived from a flash in my mind’s eye while in line at a movie theater, this film has taken me on a year long journey through a research and development phase that ultimately lead to the doorsteps of three humanitarian activists and scholars, who all have my unending gratitude for their contributions to this project. Through my conversations and interviews with Taha Sultan, the head of International Affairs for the Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi, Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, the head of Middle Eastern Studies at the UCLA School of Law and finally, Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean Activist whose efforts have been chronicled on NPR’s This American Life, my understanding of the plight of migrants in North African became clear, my heart became soft and my eyes became open…
Heavily influenced by Cary Fukunaga’s Netflix Original film, Beasts Of No Nation, which tells a disturbing tale of child soldiers in the Congo, The Container will be true to the culture in which it portrays by having script guidance from the team of researchers mentioned above. Although The Container is a fictional story built around a non-fictional framework, the attention to detail will justify its claim to authenticity.
The timeline of The Container is short. With a run-time of only 85 minutes and taking place over the course of 36 hours, this film concentrates on the migrants’ reactions to the external situations happening outside the container. Creating entire imageless scenes using intense soundscapes, we watch and wait with these migrants as their emotions are captured in their eyes and in their silent trepidation.
The Container chronicles the tragedy of 12 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopian, Chad and Niger who all embark on the treacherous Libya-to-Italy trafficking route. In hopes of reaching the shores of Europe to start a new life away from poverty, away from strife - away from home, our narrative is mostly seen through the eyes of an 8 year old Eritrean girl named Faven, who is with her father, Amanuel. Sharing their journey are two Nigerian brothers, Danladi and Bitrus, both unsuccessful veterans of the trip, a mother of two, Yaya, from Chad, a pregnant couple from Nigeria, a devout Muslim, an escaped sex slave named Aamira from South Sudan and finally a mentally unstable loner named Akpan. As their journey continues, this group of strangers must all work together to keep quiet at security checkpoints, stay hydrated in the 115+ degree heat and take turns sharing their dreams of a new life with each other along this 15 hour trek across the arid Libyan desert.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace…”
- Thomas Paine
…lost her mother to a war-torn country. Her father promises to give her a new life. A life where they will enjoy the simple things like baking bread and watching the birds sing. But being the sole survivor of this traumatic pilgrimage leaves her with memories she can’t unsee.
Danladi and Bitrus
…have done this journey before. Twice. But each time they make it to Tripoli, they are captured, detained and deported back to Nigeria. Not wanting to let down the family, they must try again or risk living with the shame and disappointment - a fate worse than death.
…was abducted and forced into the dark of world of sex slavery, but was somehow able to escape. After using what little money she had left to pay a smuggler to bring her to the Mediterranean, Aamira wants only one thing - the freedom to choose.
…doesn’t want to be here. Being the first born son, the pressure his family put on him to get to Europe, claim asylum and apply for chain migration is more than he can bear. Skittish and armed with a makeshift knife, Akpan is dangerous to himself - and the others.
The film starts just as the migrants enter the container. Watching as everyone shuffles quickly to find a space to claim amidst the chaos of roaring truck engines and shouting smugglers outside, we see Faven holding a sippy cup with a picture of a cartoon lion - an accordion straw poking out the top. Suddenly, the sound of gunfire rages as a stray bullet rips a hole in the metal on Faven’s side of container just as the truck lurches forward. And so their journey begins…
Over the course of the next 15 hours, speaking mostly broken English, a little French and some Arabic, we piece together the migrants’ backgrounds and future dreams through their conversations with each other. Coming across multiple close calls at checkpoints littered across their route, our view to the outside world comes mostly through the point of view of Faven looking out that bullet hole.
After dealing with extreme heat, a sick child, dwindling food and water and the fear and anxiety of getting caught, their dreams are shattered when suddenly the coupling that fastens the container onto the semi-truck breaks - and the container tumbles off the road. Having the back end of the container lodged deep into the sand, the doors are wedged shut, leaving the migrants trapped inside. The smuggler does all he can to try and free them, but to no avail. Being pursued by the authorities, the risk is too great and the smuggler leaves. They are abandoned. Left to suffocate.
In the final act, we watch as attitudes and alliances crumble, along with hope and faith. As the air quality slowly declines, becoming carbon dioxide, a heartbreaking end is at hand. In the final moments of the film, we watch as the authorities finally discover the abandoned container. Upon opening the back, after pushing past the bleach palettes the migrants hid behind, the police find the bodies of the suffocated migrants…except for Faven - who is found behind her father’s lifeless body, breathing through a straw inserted into that bullet hole…
DETAILED PRODUCTION PLAN COMING SOON…
Why Should anyone Watch This Film?
In conclusion, this sad tale serves an important purpose. I find myself complaining regularly about my wages, about the traffic in my city, about what kind of food I want to eat, about the speed of my internet access… and so on. Ultimately, I believe it’s crucial to remind myself, daily, that there are millions of people in the world who’s entire lives revolve around simply surviving. People who don’t get to experience any of the luxuries that I do. People who would risk death to have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower…
“Every day, I like to wake up and remind myself to be grateful for the simple things…”
- Miranda Kerr
For more information and to request the feature length script, contact Matt Boda at:
11333 Moorpark St. #50
Studio City, CA 91602