Directed by Ramon Térmens; written by Térmens and Daniel Faraldo

Illegal Woman (La dona il·legal in Catalan, La mujer ilegal in Spanish), streaming on Netflix, is a film exposing brutal Spanish immigration policy, and more broadly, the European and global mistreatment of immigrants and refugees.

At the center of the film, directed by Ramon Térmens, is a Spanish immigration lawyer, Fernando Vila (Daniel Faraldo, also a co-writer). His everyday work involves listening to and attempting to address the problems of an endless stream of undocumented immigrants, mostly from poverty-stricken countries.

Some of his clients are living on the streets, some face harassment and anti-Muslim prejudice. They describe terrifying crossings of the Mediterranean by boat. One, the amusing Hussein (Abdel Aziz El Mountassir), repeatedly sells his documents and comes back for more because, as he later explains, “I am poor,” and he has “many mouths to feed.” These immense difficulties strike an authentic chord. Meanwhile, a bloated, right-wing politician bellows from a television screen.

Illegal Woman (2020)

Another lawyer hands Fernando the case of a Kosovan-born prostitute, Zita Krasniqi (Klaudia Dudová), threatened with deportation. A judge, after rejecting her appeal, sends Zita to an immigration detention center, a CIE (Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros), for 60 days. The following day, she is found hanged. Fernando is skeptical about the authorities’ version, especially since he spotted the high-ranking police officer who arrested Zita, Oriol Cadenas (Isak Férriz), in court, a highly unusual occurrence.

Fernando tracks down another prostitute, a Nigerian, Juliet Okoro (Yolanda Sey), a friend of the dead woman. She has her suspicions too. Zita was about to get married to a street vendor, Bakary. She wasn’t suicidal. We quickly learn that the cop, Cadenas, is at the center of an odious operation, the sex trafficking of immigrants. Zita witnessed a crime and had to be summarily dealt with.

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