The democratizing power of technology gives everyone the tools and platform to be heard. It has, at times, worked miracles — many claim Twitter and Facebook were integral in coordinating the Arab Spring, while the ubiquity of smartphones has allowed the documentation of human rights violations committed by dictators around the world (and in Syria in particular). But, it could be argued, these same technologies have done nothing to affirm the agency and humanity of those from marginalized and oppressed countries — their photos and videos are co-opted by international media organizations (both those friendly and hostile) who use them to create their own narratives (both those truthful and not), and Facebook and Twitter do what they do to harvest data and sell ads.
This messy dynamic is one reason the new documentary “Midnight Traveler,” which premiered recently at Sundance, is so refreshing. With “Midnight Traveler,” Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili, alongside his wife Fatima Hussaini, uses technology in a desperate and tenacious attempt to reclaim his family’s agency after they are forced to flee Afghanistan and make the illegal and perilous journey to Europe.