"Route 4" tells the story of the horrific conditions of Libya and the reasons why people attempt to flee the country. The treatment of women, enslavement, rape, joblessness, and hopelessness all circle the typhoon of desperation and the inhumane way of life in this troubled country. Yet Martina Chamrad's hour-long flick doesn't hang on Libya the entire time and instead focuses on a boat of rescue and the people who are willing to do more than is asked or expected. Martina's film is the story of reality, education, and hope - and it's mighty powerful.
Following along with members of the Sea-Eye organization, the film begins with a potentially hazardous situation for the crew and refugees on board the ship before going into the main meat of the story. It's an excellent hook and immediately interested me in the film. What follows is footage taken and gathered by the filmmaker reminding those who have forgotten, or chosen to look the other way, the problems faced by the modern-day journey from rape and enslavement to potential freedom. We hear a few stories of life in Libya and on the journey to freedom. Some of these stories are hard to hear, and the pain from the storytellers is evident. There is also a small collection of real-life torture tactics later in the film that is brutal ... but illustrates the point entirely. "Route 4" never gives its audience anything they truly can't handle, but enough to showcase the realities of these situations.
But this film doesn't stop at the victims. There is a healthy dose of the "why's" when discussing why things are the way they are. Showcased are the views of country officials and other captains who regularly turn a blind eye to those in need - to those floating around helplessly in crafts that are anything but seaworthy. The situation is more than any one single issue, and honestly? There's plenty of blame to go around. Escaping Libya is just the start of a potentially deadly journey, and it's more than hinted at - that this challenging journey is probably more often than not an unsuccessful one. For those that do manage to get picked up, there are no guarantees.
At the end of the day, "Route 4" is exactly what you would expect from a documentary that is done well. It has all the right elements in all the right places to inform and educate. But what makes a decent documentary a great one is the content itself, and in this regard, Martina Chamrad hits the nail squarely on the head. My heart goes out to the many featured in this film, and I believe the crew of the rescue ship and all those involved deserve more than could ever be given. Bottom line? This was a great film and easily earned its stars.