Sunday Dolph Christopher’s RIPPLE EFFECT (2017) is an engaging moment of self-processing for the filmmaker, in which he confronts the challenges of immigration and integration in a Europe that is becoming tragically hostile to refugees. Christopher, a refugee himself from Nigeria, talks to recent Syrian refugees who have settled in Sweden, a country that is ostensibly one of the most sympathetic toward ever-growing Syrian diaspora.
Christopher interviews men and women who have mixed feelings toward their new home. There’s Theo, a gorgeous young man who runs a hair salon and believes fervently in the powers of integration. The story of the woman who married a Swede and feels very at home, the woman who runs. However, Mohanad, a family man who lives with his wife and two children, has actively struggled to learn Swedish, find a job, and lease a reasonable apartment. Moreover, FFF is frustrated with the quality of employment—he wants to use his training instead of working in a menial position. And all of the refugees, whether or not they like Sweden, are affected by powerful survivor’s guilt and homesickness. It’s almost impossible to be happy, they note, when your family, neighbors, and countrymen are being subjected to violence on a daily basis.
RIPPLE EFFECT is at its most sophisticated when it honestly confronts the challenges that the refugees face. The film poignantly focuses on the constant snow and seemingly unceasing chilly weather in Sweden, a climate that can augment the refugees’ homesickness. It shows their unhappiness, the challenges of meeting their neighbors, and their confrontations with Sweden’s local cultures. All of them hope for better lives and want to challenge themselves to be the best workers, friends, and citizens they can be, but they are also always confronted with the real struggle of an upended life. The film doesn’t downplay the struggles or suggest that a welcoming country can cure all ills. It does, however, point to the ways that cultural integration can benefit both refugees and native citizens.