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19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Welcome is an emotionally affecting drama about intersecting lives, unlikely friendships and the hope of new beginnings. Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee, has spent the last three months of his life traveling across Europe in an attempt to reunite with his girlfriend who recently emigrated to England. But his journey comes to an abrupt end when he is stopped on the French side of the Channel. Having decided to swim across, Bilal goes to the local swimming pool to train. It is here he meets Simon (Vincent Lindon), a middle-aged swimming instructor, who is privately reeling in turmoil as he dreads an imminent divorce from his wife (Audrey Dana). Despite their differences, the two men discover that they have much in common, and a strong bond emerges between them. Simon decides to take Bilal under his wing, realizing that he too must risk everything to reach the other side of happiness.


Welcome is a mesmerizing film that is haunting, uplifting and gut-wrenching. Lindon and Ayverdi give great performances and this is one of the rare films that you consider yourself lucky to have seen. A truly moving piece of cinema. --Caine Gardner,

A smoothly crafted, emotionally affecting drama driven by powerful performances! --Seattle International Film Festival

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana
  • Directors: Philippe Lioret
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0031SU2Y2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,537 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Welcome" on IMDb

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hui Shen ben Israel TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 10, 2012
Format: DVD
WELCOME (2009, in English, French and Kurdish, 112 minutes) is a poignant, harsh look at the plight of the Iraqi Kurds trying to enter England. The Kurdish people have always fascinated me: they are a Fourth World people. Stupid to describe such people as "World" since it means a culture that has no home country or even home state. I think the Kurds along with the Tibetans are the only Fourth World people on earth at the moment - but I could be wrong.

Handsome 17-year-old Bilal Kayani (Firat Ayverdi) has walked 4,000 kilometers to France, so he can get to England and his girlfriend Mina (Derya Ayverdi), who is living there with her family. He is ready to marry her no matter what.

Basset-hound-handsome Vincent Lindon plays grizzled French swim coach Simon Calmet (character wrongly spelled "Calmat" in listed credits, spelled "Calmet" in film and subtitles). One day Bilal shows up at the pool to take lessons from Simon. He plans to swim the Channel to get to England and Mina.

Simon, rapidly growing fond of this son he never had, takes Bilal under his wing and agrees to train him to swim the Channel. France has very fascistic laws against these illegals, and there is a lot of prejudice from the French people. Simon gets a lot of flak for "harboring" Bilal; he is eventually accused of having a relationship with him (so, the French admit the temptation is there even though they regard these poor people as insects). The truth is Bilal becomes very much like a son to Simon.

Bilal makes a break for it, swims the channel and drowns. Simon is informed and before you know it, everyone is attending poor, sweet Bilal's funeral. This whole twist in the story made me sad and angry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 3, 2011
Format: DVD
"Welcome" begins with a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee Bilal's attempt to get smuggled into England. He is on the last lap of his long road to reunite his girlfriend Mina now living in London with her family. When Bilal's attempt fails, however, he finds himself stuck in Calais, the closest French town to England across the Channel.

The opening part of a French drama "Welcome" might remind you of a 2002 film "In This World" directed by Michael Winterbottom, but as the story unfolds, you will realize that "Welcome" is more about the unlikely friendship between two people than the journey the young protagonist takes. Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), though being a poor swimmer, takes lessons from the local instructor Simon (Vincent Lindon, "Pour Elle"). It doesn't take much time for Simon to see why Bilal is so eager to learn swimming. Bilal is going to swim across the Channel to meet his love.

The film's story is told with a very low key and somber approach. Though dealing with a political subject matter like illegal immigration, the quiet film refrains from shoving a message down your throat. "Welcome" is carefully crafted with an eye for detail that makes the two major characters Simon and Bilal vivid and complex.

"Welcome" benefits from compelling performances from the cast, most notably from the stars: newcomer Firat Ayverdi as Bilal, and Vincent Lindon as Simon, whose original motive for helping the Kurdish boy might not be totally altruistic. Simon still loves his estranged wife Marion (Audrey Dana), a schoolteacher who also works as a volunteer helping refugees. Is it that Simon only wanted to impress her?

"Welcome" is an engaging drama that maintains its dramatic tension throughout, greatly helped by the strong acting from the cast and the believable characters you really care.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Abbott on November 20, 2010
Format: DVD
A small film, "Welcome" provokes big questions in telling the story of Bilal, a seventeen-year-old Kurdish youth who, for all his exceptional drive, typifies the heartbreaking lot of Europe's illegal population. It's a movie of low-key but powerful gesture -- swimming instructor Simon's acts of decency earn him no accolades from those around him, only their incomprehension, even hostility. That's a face of heroism far removed from Hollywood cliche, and it's all the more persuasive and moving as a result. I don't wish to spoil for others the ending of this fine film by saying more, but certainly one walks away from "Welcome" overwhelmed by the tragic waste of human life and aspiration generated by Europe's inflexible immigration system. Of course much the same could be said about things here in the USA, but that's another story for another time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2011
Format: DVD
Philippe Lioret has written (with Emmanuel Courcol, Olivier Adam, and Serge Frydman) and directed this touching and compelling story of the trials of immigrants attempting to escape war-torn Iraq, reminding us of yet another aspect of the brutality of war. Titled WELCOME, it is anything but, as it demonstrates the averse feelings of the European countries to the plight of immigrants. This is a solid, well written and sculpted story that in the hands of a small cast of excellent actors reaches for the heart of the viewer and finds it.

Simon Calmat (Vincent Lindon) is a French swimming coach in the painful period of signing divorce papers from his wife Marion (Audrey Dana), a socially impassioned woman who serves at the food kitchen in Calais, France, providing nourishment and support for homeless immigrants. Simon discovers a young Kurdish illegal immigrant from Mosul, Iraq, Bilal Kayani (Firat Ayverdi), who has endured torture form the Turks who force him to wear a black sack over his head for an extended period of time until he escapes. In Calais he pays 500 Euros and joins with a group of fellow asylum seekers in an attempt to be smuggled by truck through the English Channel Tunnel, but his memory of the hood experience has made him terrified of wearing the plastic bag over his head required of the 'clandestines' when crossing the borders to avoid the CO2 detectors used by the guards. Bilal's dream is to cross into England where his girlfriend Mina (Derya Ayverdi, Firat's real life sister!) waits, attempting to avoid an arranged marriage her father demands. Largely due to Bilal's inability to keep the plastic bag over his head during the attempted escape, the immigrants are captured and returned to France.
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