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Mission Lifeline

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Mission Lifeline documents the founding of the organization of the same name, and perilous rescues by its group of multidisciplinary, multicultural volunteers in the Mediterranean Sea, where an astounding number of asylum seekers drown. The crew stands on watch for boats that will inevitably sink, as they are made of shoddy material and packed several fold over capacity with people. Mission Lifeline e.V. then brings people to safety and provides medical care.

Mission Lifeline features sweeping shots of the Mediterranean, and captures footage of rescues, as well as the day to day camaraderie among the German and Spanish crew members. You get a sense of the vulnerability of the people who flee violent countries and corrupt governments and place themselves in the middle and at the mercy of the financially incentivized (smugglers, pirates, coast guards, human traffickers), the vagaries of EU refugee policy, an unpredictable sea, and these English-speaking strangers on a boat who say they can help. Incendiary footage of PEGIDA demonstrations in Dresden juxtaposed with the rescue missions show the tension between the growing far right in Germany and the refugee crisis. As co-founder Axel Steier weaves his way through protestors and encounters an elderly couple expressing conspiracy theory about refugees, I was reminded that immunity to fact is far more than a German problem.

Since its founding in 2016, the organization has faced a steady torrent of public slander and legal battles that have at times stymied its activity. The documentary often shifts between feel good moments and accounts of the organization’s antagonists. On the whole I didn’t find the message of Mission Lifeline to be a very hopeful one. It was rather a spotlight on occasional victories in a vast sea of opposition.

Janielle Williams

Credits

Original title: Die Mission der Lifeline
Deutschland 2019, 68 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Markus Weinberg, Luise Baumgarten
DOP: Dino von Wintersdorff, Markus Weinberg
Montage: Luise Baumgarten
Music: Sophia Crüsemann
Distributor: ravir-film GbR
FSK: 12
Release: 23.05.2019

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