Detained - An analysis of the 'refugee' and their search for refuge in a 'closed-off' world | Review

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Tajik director Khushnuda Shukurova’s short film Detained tells the story of two sibling refugees from Syria being refused to have their migration granted in the United States. Recent refugee crisis and its direct link with the Trump administration reflects the main plot of the story. The opening scene of the film shows mass gathering in John F Kennedy airport showing massive protest against islamophobia and refugee rejection by the Trump administration. The short film at some point seems to be a documentary (actuality) to the audience, having seen such protests happening all across the globe lately.




The unstable middle east has been sending war refugees across the world since the 2011 Arab Spring and the numbers of helpless innocents have only increased as now the middle east fights the Arab Winter. Syria being the most affected nation of the post Arab Spring upsurge, still falls under the notorious war belt in 2020, producing the largest number of war refugees.


Detained shows us the real face of the humanitarian crisis by how Fatima and her brother are treated harshly with contempt by the US authority. Being a Syrian refugee Fatima and her brother are disrespectfully interrogated by the immigration departments, questioning their religious beliefs and link with terrorism, even though they have got no such base of history.


On the other hand, rebellious posters like “Islamophobia is Un-American” demonstrates another side of American mass (or the world as a whole) who tend to embrace refugees on humanitarian grounds and fight islamophobia and its victims.


Moreover, the interrogation session of the two Syrian refugees remains the heart of the film, who have their father living in the United States with a green card who has worked with the US military as an interpreter during the Iraq war. But nonetheless the two siblings are again denied migration in the US on the alibi of terrorism protection. This rejection clearly reveals the lack of gratitude sense that a great nation like America can have to its contributors.




After the Refugee Convention of 1951, mass demonstrations against refugee brutality are getting stronger each day in every corner of the world and the director just showed it in some beautiful frames. The Trump administration putting travel bans on five major Islamic nations has made the clash of civilisation more prominent.


Though on a rudimentary basis, NGOs like Red Cross and administrations like UNHRC (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) have been partially successful with refugee maintenance, but the current scenario remains similar to the epilogue of the film. After being denied the migration permit, Fatima’s helplessness puts emotional strains in the audiences’ mind but the next scene changes everything.


The last scene leaves the film in an open to interpretation ending where Fatima is taken again by the custody but now the later remains undisclosed. Hence it can be said that the last part somehow indicates how the refugees have to go through never-ending routine harassment by the great nations of the world which is the product of Islamophobia all in all.

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