The second Oscar for the best foreign film was brought to Switzerland by this poignant, ultimately tragic drama by Xavier Koller about the journey of a family from a Turkish province to a better life in Europe. Haydar’s family lives somewhere in the Turkish mountains, almost in the traditional way of life that his ancestors led. It’s a family with a lot of children, who play on those trees, run wild on the track and all those local kids compete to stay lying on the tracks longer while the train is coming. Life is hard, they are engaged in agriculture, raising livestock, but one day Haydar will start digging a postcard sent to him from Switzerland by one of his relatives.
A few years earlier, he managed to illegally escape from Turkey to Switzerland and apparently the man managed to find his way there, and according to the stories, Switzerland is a country where road literally leaks from goats’ udders. Whoever gets there finds his way without any problems, finds a job overnight, maybe even gets rich, so Haydar will decide to go on that journey into the unknown. He will sell everything he has, land and cattle, and completely naively head for Switzerland with his wife and youngest son, not knowing exactly where it is. “Journey of Hope” or “Reise der Hoffnung” in the original is great because everything here seems completely authentic, naturalistic, real. And while today it is completely normal for various authors, trying to make docudramas as authentic as possible, to hire amateurs and non-professional actors, Koller achieved the same effect by hiring completely unknown Turkish actors.
Without even thinking about what the journey to Switzerland might really look like, the gullible Haydar will give everything he has to the smugglers who will try to take them to Switzerland via Italy. And it seems as if Haydar is not really aware of what kind of road awaits him and what kind of people he has to deal with, because he is a simple man from the village who does not even know that these are not people who wish them well. And while today human trafficking is already a well-known problem about which we know practically everything, the tragedy in “Journey of Hope” is all the greater because these people do not understand what can happen to them and how dangerous it is. And practically every time a decision has to be made, Haydar will obviously make a mistake and put himself and his family in an even more difficult and unbelievable situation.