SneakPeek – Shadow Game is an intimate ‘real-time’ WhatsApp documentary by Flemish theater collective SkaGeN, about 15-year-old SK (Sajid Khan) from Afghanistan and Dutch documentary film directors Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel.
In September 2019, directors Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel met the Afghan SK (then 15 years old) in Greece. He would become one of the main characters of the award-winning documentary Shadow Game (Golden Calf, Prix Europa, Grand Geneva Award). SK was about to embark on a long and arduous journey through Europe. They kept in contact via Whatsapp for a year and a half. Now the viewer can closely follow what they shared with each other. An intensely intimate journey through the dark side of Europe that confronts the viewer with ethical dilemmas.
For this production, Flemish theater collective SKaGeN set to work with the thousands of messages, videos and sound fragments that directors Eefje Blankevoort, Els van Driel and SK sent to each other in the period between 2019 and 2022. SKaGeN selected and adapted two crucial moments of 2,5 weeks each. This gives the audience a unique insight into the daily life of a 15-year-old boy trying to survive the Balkan Route on his own.
In part one, we meet SK in a relief camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For more than a year he has been making frantic attempts (‘games’) to cross the border into Croatia. We follow SK on his route through forests, villages, across train tracks and rivers. It will be a road full of hardship and disappointment, but also growing engagement: the young SK meticulously documents what he sees and experiences. He wants to share with the world what is happening on the European borders.
‘SneakPeek Shadow Game’ offers a haunting insight into the reality of young people on the run. What is really happening on our European borders? It also shows the dilemmas the directors faced during the making of their film.
Director Eefje Blankevoort: “Can we help the children we follow? To what extent? Can we ask them to also document their journey? During the making of Shadow Game, we were repeatedly confronted with countless ethical dilemmas. I hope that the insight that SneakPeek offers also raises these questions in the viewer. What would I do? How far would I go? Why can’t we help a guy like SK, but we can drive to Ukraine to pick up people? And how gratuitous is it to just look at other people’s suffering? Every viewer, every European, should really ask themselves those questions.”