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In This World is a 2002 British docudrama directed by Michael Winterbottom. The film follows two young Afghan refugees, Jamal Udin Torabi and Enayatullah, as they leave a refugee camp in Pakistanmarker for a better life in Londonmarker. Since their journey is illegal, it is fraught with danger, and they must use back-channels, bribes, and smugglers to achieve their goal. The film won the Golden Bear prize at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival.


Jamal and Enayatullah are Afghanmarker refugees in a camp in Peshawarmarker, Pakistanmarker. They travel to Quettamarker, and thence to Taftanmarker on the Iranianmarker border. They pay people smugglers to assist them over the border; on their first attempt they are stopped by Iranian police and returned to Pakistan, but their second attempt is successful. They travel to Tehranmarker and then to Makumarker, in the Kurdish part of Iranmarker, from where they cross a mountain range on foot to Turkeymarker. In Istanbulmarker they meet a group of other migrants, and they are taken to Italymarker inside a shipping container. The container is not ventilated, and most of the refugees, including Enayatullah, are suffocated to death. Jamal survives and lives in Italy for a time. He then steals a woman's purse and buys a rail ticket to Parismarker. From there, he goes to the Sangattemarker asylum seekers camp and with a new friend, Yusef, he crosses the channel by stowing away on a lorry. Finally, he arrives in London, where he calls his uncle to say he has arrived but that Enyatullah is "not in this world". The film ends with images of the Peshawar refugees.

Production and style

The film is shot in a documentary style but it is in fact a drama performed by non-professional actors and with improvised dialogue. The actors are mostly playing fictionalised versions of themselves; for example, Jamal is a real Afghan refugee and the Iranian policeman who deports the two refugees back to Pakistan is played by a real policeman who is re-enacting his normal work for the camera. Enayatullah was a market trader whom the filmmakers cast because they thought him "a nice guy". The production team lied to authorities in several countries in order to secure filming rights, having met government resistance in Iranmarker and Pakistanmarker. Most of the film was shot on location, but the scenes inside the Sangatte camp were actually filmed in England, as the film crew received hostility from the French inhabitants of the nearby village.


The film was released in the UK in March 2003 by the BBC after festival screenings in 2002. It was released in the United Statesmarker in a limited number of cities in September 2003 by Lions Gate as part of the short-lived Sundance Film Series partnership experiment with Loews Cineplex Entertainment. The film did not make much money, but was highly regarded by the critics that were able to see it.


In a case of life imitating art, after returning to Pakistan, Jamal Udin Torabi made the journey to London in reality and applied for asylum. He is now living with a family in South East Londonmarker, although he will be forced to leave the UK before his eighteenth birthday. Enayatullah used the money he earned on the film to buy a truck, and now runs an import-export business between Kabulmarker and Peshawarmarker.


  1. Michael Winterbottom, 'Behind the Scenes Footage with Commentary', on the Region 1 DVD.

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