February 6, 2009 / 1:22 PM / 10 years ago

Danish film tackles Iraq war, economic migrants

BERLIN (Reuters) - In a new Danish film the main character Lotte is a female soldier who returns from a tour of duty abroad to her native Denmark, where she cuts herself off from a society that seems not to care.

A scene from the Danish film "Lille Soldat" in an image courtesy of Zentropa Productions. REUTERS/Handout

“Little Soldier” (Lille Soldat) explores the difficulties soldiers face when they return home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — in Lotte’s case it is not clear which.

Often a country’s decision to join a military campaign abroad is unpopular, meaning returning troops face hostility from their own people.

On one level Lotte, powerfully portrayed by actress Trine Dyrholm, is rescued by her father who employs her as his driver.

But life becomes complicated when she discovers that he runs a prostitution ring made up of illegal immigrants from Africa.

Migrant workers, and how globalization has allowed people to move around the world more easily, is one of the dominant themes this year at the Berlin film festival, where Little Soldier has its international premiere on Friday.

“The developed countries are faced with a very different reality to just 10 or 20 years ago,” said Danish director Annette Olesen, referring to the increasing movement across borders, whether legal or illegal.

“The social and political reality (of the developing world) is moving right up to our doorsteps because the world is moving closer in on us,” she told reporters after a press screening.

Lotte believes she knows what is best for Lily, a Nigerian who left her daughter in order to earn more money as a prostitute to support her. In the story, she has not seen her daughter, who is now nine, for five years.

Their relationship touches on the debate over whether economic migrants leave home of their own free will or whether they are more akin to modern-day slaves.

Olesen, 43, believes two of the major themes of the film, which also explores a complex relationship between a mature woman and her father, have something in common.

When Lotte became a soldier, she did so thinking she would be helping people in the countries where she served, and in Lily’s case, she also saw herself as a savior.

“It’s all about saving — how do you really save someone, that being a person or a country?”

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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