Wake up on Mars
Please log in to watch films (restrictions may apply)
  1. Trailer
  2. Extra

    Wake up on Mars

    Réveil sur Mars

    Directed by

    Switzerland, France, Qatar


    75 min

    • Albanian
    • Swedish


    Ten-year-old Furkan is the youngest in his family and our guide through the film. His older sisters, Ibadeta and Djeneta have been in a coma for several years. Traumatized, their minds and bodies mysteriously went to sleep. Swedish doctors treat several hundred refugee children affected by this “syndrome of resignation”, a phenomenon diagnosed since 2007 that affects asylum-seeking children, often following a threat of deportation. Their parents have dedicated their existence to trying to rebuild a normal life for their family in Sweden, far from their native Kosovo, where they were victims of persecution. However, their daily life is now punctuated by visits from the doctor, days spent at the hospital and feeding through nasogastric tubes. Not to mention the legal issues, as their asylum applications have been refused one after the other. Furkan and his brother are thrust into a world they’re too young to handle. Furkan tries to escape this situation by building his own spaceship to fulfil his dream of going to live on Mars and save his sisters. This inner fantasy world of Furkan gives the film a dreamlike tone, with touches of magical realism, and positions the film in a space between imaginary and reality. The film shows our essential human need for hope, especially as a child, and offers a warning as to what can happen when all hope is gone.


    • Hera “New Talent” - Special Mention - Biografilm Festival 2020


    Labels & Line Ups


    Dea Gjinovci
    Maxime Kathari
    Catherine Birukoff
    Gaël Kyriakidis
    Fabio Poujouly
    Jeremy Calame

    Director's Statement

    I want my documentary to elevate the discourse around asylum-seekers and the way they are treated—particularly focusing on their mental health. The syndrome of resignation is one of the most extreme expressions of hopelessness. What is particular to this illness is that it only affects children. These are traumas that they will carry on to their adulthood. I want the audience to experience the narrative through children's understanding of migration; delving into their imagination to understand their inner life and how they cope with uncertainty and trauma.

    Dea Gjinovci

    Dea Gjinovci

    Switzerland, Kosovo

    Filmmaking gives me the possibility to focus on understanding the human experience — my role is to feel what my characters are feeling, and to go beyond that to interpret what their stories mean in the bigger scheme of things and how audiences can relate to them.

    Dea Gjinovci is a Swiss-Albanian director/producer with a background in Economics and Anthropology living in between Paris, London and Geneva. She is a 2019 Sundance Talent Forum alum and 2019 Film Independent Fellow. Her award-winning documentary short, WITHOUT KOSOVO (2017), was screened at many international festivals and won Best National Film at DokuFest IFF as well as prizes at the Global Migration FF and Festival Cine Zaragoza in 2017. Her debut feature-length documentary WAKE UP ON MARS (2020) received support from the Sundance Film Institute and Ford Foundation JustFilms, and won the “Perspectives d’un doc” pitch award at Visions du Réel 2018 and it was selected at the Visions du Réel 2020 Online Edition. In June 2018, she co-founded Amok Films with fellow filmmaker Antoine Goldet in Paris.

    Selected Filmography