REVIEW: 4.1 Miles [2016]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 22 minutes | Release Date: September 1st, 2016 (USA)
Studio: The New York Times
Director(s): Daphne Matziaraki

“Did Dad get on the boat?”

While Trump’s administration unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims from countries he doesn’t do business with, heroes are risking their lives to protect those who need protecting. One of these is Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a Greek Coast Guard captain from the island of Lebos who goes out into the choppy waters of the Aegean Sea to rescue refugees braving the four-mile distance from Turkey. He says that they go out every hour to pull in about two hundred innocent survivors of war, the numbers adding up to around 600,000 between 2015 and 2016 alone. Smugglers take their money, put them on boats they know won’t protect against the waves, and send them away. If not for Kyriakos and the others, these 600,000 would all be dead.

As a citizen in the background yells towards the end—during the latest ship to shore journey of shivering cold survivors amongst a couple dead—the world needs to see what’s happening. They cannot keep doing this alone. This is where director Daphne Matziaraki enters, her film 4.1 Miles an uncensored look at the never quite fast enough operations rolling out hour upon hour. She’s in the helm beside Kyriakos as he orders his men to get ropes ready. She’s on the deck as bodies are lifted aboard and pushed back to make room, children and adults screaming to see if their families made it too. Whether on land at a seaside lunch spot or on his vessel, the sadness in Kyriakos’ eyes is unavoidable.

Because no matter how many he saves by going out at the drop of a dime once the helicopter radios in, questions about those he can’t will linger. He’s become a general in a war he isn’t fighting, a savior of people whose language he cannot even understand. This wasn’t in the job description and yet he does it because it’s the right thing to do. Lebos can’t feasibly support all these refugees and who knows what the Greek government does with them once they’ve been interviewed and accounted for, but that’s just white noise when the only thought in the moment is making sure no one dies. It’s hard not to imagine Trump on that boat in Kyriakos’ place simply watching as they drown.

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