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The Land of Transit

Directed by Paolo Martino

Edited by Matteo Cusato

Photography Andrea De Biasi

Sound editing by Gianluca Stazi

Direct sound recording Roberto Colella

Written by Paolo Martino, Valentina Brinis, Valentina Calderone

With Rahell Ali Mohamma


Like thousands of people his age in flight from war, Rahell embarked on a difficulty journey from the Middle East to Europe without visas or a passport, trying to join a branch of his family that has lived in Sweden for many years.

When he arrived in Italy though, he discovered that separating him from this destination there was the Dublin Regulation, that means that refugees have to reside in the first country of the European Union they enter.

Even though for Rahell Italy is only a Land of Transit.


I travelled at length to discover the routes that lead to Europe from Asia and the Middle East, documenting the steps of forced migrants, refugees, the nomads of the third millennium. Incredible stories of flight are interwoven on those roads, against a backdrop of exotic scenery, arid landscapes and oriental colours.

On returning to Italy, I found out that many of those stories converge in our country, a bridge between continents: not to stop the long route, but only to catch breath and then carry on. Italy, once a desired destination, is now only a land of transit, a place for waiting, an unwanted stay before leaping into the heart of Europe.

In addition to the daily call of its own young people leaving, Italy now has to add the list of foreigners who, having landed on its shores, continue northwards, without ever looking back. Land of Transit is not a film about immigration, but a film about a generation of migrants. Mine.

Paolo Martino

A reporter and documentary-maker, he has lived in the Middle East for many years. In 2011 he obtained a European prize for journalism by following the route of Afghan refugees from Kurdistan to Italy. In 2012 he travelled from the Caucasus to Beirut following the places and the stories of the Middle Eastern Armenian diaspora. In 2013 his documentary, “Just about my fingers” on the condition of the refugees in Greece received a number of awards. A correspondent of the Osservatorio Balcani and Caucaso, he contributes to Italian and foreign magazines and media platforms. He is 30 years old.

Rahell Ali Mohammad

He was born in Suleymania, in northern Iraq. In 1988, when Saddam Hussein ordered a chemical attack on the city of Halabja, Rahell, still a child, found refuge in Damascus with his family. His personal journey however has taken him to Europe. Forced in 2010 to leave Syria, he crossed Turkey and Greece, where he met a fleeing humanity, discovering in person that the European Union, the land of human rights, does not have the lives of all men close to its heart. Rahell arrived at night in Bari two years older than he was on the day he left Damascus.