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Netflix releases Stateless, a new drama series produced by Cate Blanchett

Rohingya refugee Nur Fatima, 20, and her one year old son in Nyapara refugee settlement speak to Cate Blanchett.  They arrived in Nayapara via Jadimara border point in March 2018

Rohingya refugee Nur Fatima, 20, and her one year old son in Nyapara refugee settlement speak to Cate Blanchett. They arrived in Nayapara via Jadimara border point in March 2018.
© UNHCR/Hector Perez

Stateless, a powerful new show co-created and produced by the actor, director and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, explores what it means to lose your home, country and identity.

A new Netflix limited series out on 8 July dramatizes what it means to be displaced and stripped of your identity.


‘Stateless’ was co-created and produced by Cate Blanchett. The actor and director was inspired and impassioned by her work and experiences as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to shine a light on what loss of identity can mean.

The drama focuses on four strangers whose lives collide in an immigration detention center in the Australian desert. The central story is inspired by the real-life case of an Australian citizen who was unlawfully detained in 2004.

The series intertwines personal stories, revealing a system struggling with the irreconcilable contradictions of border protection.  Loss of identity and dignity is a key theme and the personal crises the characters face are heightened by detention.

“It is my hope that Stateless will build empathy.”

Blanchett said: “It is my hope that Stateless, a project that actually has grown up separately from my work with UNHCR but brings together two worlds for me, will build empathy and understanding for refugees, particularly those who have been and still are in detention.”

“We live in a world where about one per cent of all humanity is now displaced as a result of conflict or persecution. Through Stateless, I hope to prompt people to rethink how they and we all are responding to the current displacement crisis. To understand what it means to lose your home, your country, your identity. To get people to empathize and to ask questions,” she said.

The series uses the term stateless in its poetic sense to address that loss of personal identity rather than in a legal sense.

But statelessness is an issue that Blanchett is concerned about and which is also part of UNHCR’s unique mandate as a UN agency.

“On paper, stateless people don’t exist.”

Under international law, statelessness refers to the millions of people around the globe who are not recognized as citizens by any country. This has devastating consequences for their ability to exercise their human rights and participate in the normal life of the societies they live in.

UNHCR is working to end statelessness by 2024 through its #IBelong Campaign.

In a short social media explainer for UNHCR on statelessness, Blanchett said: “Most people are citizens of somewhere. We have birth certificates, we have passports, ID cards. But on paper, stateless people don’t exist. Without a passport or an ID the list of things people cannot do is never ending – go to school, see a doctor, own a SIM card, work legally, open a bank account, travel, own a home or even get legally married. Statelessness exists everywhere. It’s happening in countries like yours or mine.”

Originally published on UNHCR on 08 July 2020