A filmic exploration of "migrant illegality" in Copenhagen


  • Julie Høj Thomsen University of Manchester




undocumented migrants, Afghan refugees, Migrant illegality, deportability, rightlessness


Ali came to Denmark in 2011 to seek asylum. After two and a half years in asylum camps his case was rejected, and since then he has lived 'underground' as undocumented migrant in Copenhagen. The film explores Ali's experience of life as 'illegal migrant’ in Denmark. It deals with the conditions of ‘rightlessness’ and ‘deportability’ and how these conditions influence Ali’s general experience of time, place and belonging. Because of the threat of deportation Ali's face and identity is not shown in the film, and the story is carried by Ali's voice and images of Copenhagen city.


Author Biography

Julie Høj Thomsen, University of Manchester

Julie Høj Thomsen holds a BA in Social Sciences and a MA in Visual Anthropology. Her first film Jugglers follows the young Honduran street artist Alexander in his search for answers to the unprocessed murder of his best friend ‘El Waico’. Through Alexander’s search the film investigates the issues of violence, impunity and political persecution in Honduras. The film premiered and won at the Student Ethnographic Film Festival (SEF) in Zadar, Croatia, in May 2016.
Julie made her second film Underground in 2016 as thesis project for the MA in Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. The film follows the undocumented migrant ‘Ali’ through his everyday life in Copenhagen. Underground has previously screened at Student Ethnographic Film Festival in Zadar, Croatia (2017), London Migration Film Festival (2017), Viscult in Joensuu, Finland (2017) and at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark by CPH:DOX Everyday Project (2017).

Julie has a broad interest in social sciences, media and culture and is currently teaching media and filmmaking.




How to Cite

Thomsen, J. H. (2019). Underground: A filmic exploration of "migrant illegality" in Copenhagen. Journal of Anthropological Films, 3(02), e2693. https://doi.org/10.15845/jaf.v3i02.2693