Iraqi-Kurd migrant film wins EU parliament prize

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The Independent Culture

The European parliament on Wednesday handed its Lux 2009 film prize to the story of an Iraqi-Kurd refugee hell-bent on swimming illegally to Britain from France.

'Welcome,' by French director Philippe Lioret, is set in the French port of Calais and focuses on a swimming instructor who helps a teenage migrant, desperate to join his girlfriend in Britain on the other side of the channel.

The film explores the risks undertaken by channel-hoppers and living conditions at the Sangatte migrant camp near Calais, which became a symbol for supporters of asylum-seeking rights.

"We wanted through the awarding of this prize to generate a debate on subjects which weigh down on public opinion, such as the fate of immigrants in Europe," said the parliament's president, Jerzy Buzek.

The 87,000-euro (130,000 dollars) prize is to pay for subtitling in the European Union's 23 official languages and its adaptation for people with visual or hearing difficulties.