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This report is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Letter from Geneva Jamie Osborn
TWO WOMEN, in coloured and checkered headscarves, stand against a backdrop of rock and blue sky. One looks down and away from the camera, hands folded before her at her waist. The other has raised binoculars. What is she looking at, or whom for?

It is the fifteenth year of the Festival du Film et Forum International sur les Droits Humains (FIFDH) in Geneva. A stripe of red lettering at the women’s feet gives the Facebook page and the website. The poster is pasted around the city alongside caricatures and metre-high ‘OUIs’ or ‘NONs’ for the country’s latest referendum, this one on making it easier for immigrants to gain Swiss nationality. Below the billboards, tourists jam up against the international civil servants and the commodity traders who push through the crowds to vanish behind revolving doors. Languages tangle and drift across the lake. It is spring, and beyond the water the ‘dread and silent’ mountains, which Coleridge called upon to answer ‘like a shout of nations’, are clearly visible for what feels like the first time this year.

C’est interdit – it’s forbidden’ Latif answers when I ask whether he has visited Salève, the nearest mountain resort. As a refugee, who arrived from Syria a year ago, he is unable to leave the country, and many of the popular mountain areas are across the border in France. I meet Latif at ‘Cuisine Lab’, one of the various ‘incubators’, ‘start-ups’, or ‘network hotspots’ with a mission to ‘break open’ Geneva’s international potential and pretensions that have ...


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