Today I’m offering you a short film (12 mins.) entitled “Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times.” It’s a British film by Marcus Markou. It tells the story of two men, seemingly very different from each other, who happen to meet five times over the course of several decades. I really, really love this film! I wouldn’t post it for you if I didn’t think it was worth your valuable time. For me, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen on racism/prejudice. It’s won numerous awards (I counted 17 first place awards from film festivals all over the world.) Following the film, I’ve written a few questions for your reflection. I thought they might help you “process” the film. If they help, fine. If not, that’s okay too. I suggest you don’t read the questions until you have viewed the film.
If you have trouble with the British accent, click on the closed caption (cc) icon.
The film starts with “The second time” the two men meet. The first time comes later in the film.
In England, an ATM is called a “cash point.”
Now, here’s the movie:
Now that you have watched the film, here are a few questions for reflection/sharing below:
What did you think of the film? (Did you like it? Why or why not? How would you describe the film in one word (or a few)?
When Alistair and Sam meet at the ATM, how does Alistair immediately reveal his prejudice/racism? Does the film offer any clues as to the origin of his prejudice?
When the two men meet in the office, Sam remembers Alistair, but Alistair doesn’t seem to remember Sam. How could this be?
When the two men meet again on the street, Alistair remembers Mr. Aziz, but Sam doesn’t seem to remember Alistair. What stands out to you about their exchange? What affect does Mr. Aziz’s generous gift have on Alistair? What “advice” does Mr. Aziz give Alistair right before he leaves?
What stands out to you when the two young boys meet for the first time? What does Alistair’s mother say to him as she abruptly pulls him away from Sam?
What stands out to you in their fifth meeting in the senior assisted living facility? Do they recognize each other? How have both men changed since their previous meetings? Do you think there’s a possibility that they can actually become friends? Why or why not?
Does the film shed a light on your own prejudices or racist attitudes or behaviors?
Did you notice what the first two words are in the film? Any significance?
Are the two men really “strangers”? Explain your answer.
The filmmaker, Marcus Markou, says he wanted to make a short film about racism—but not the glaring kind that we see in our history of slavery or in the holocaust. He wanted to make a film about the “low level everyday” kind of racism that “poisons” our society. Do you think he achieves this?
Have you ever experienced (or contributed to) the “low level racism that poisons society”?
Interesting note: The two lead actors actually attended the same school growing up. But this is the first time (I think) that they were ever in a movie together.
Now it’s your turn to share some of your responses to the film below. Please comment on what you thought about the film, what you noticed, and any other comments you wish to make. My other readers and I would LOVE to hear from you! THANK YOU!