This year’s Refugee Week is taking place from 14 to 20 June and will feature its very first Film Festival organised by the Refugee Council, the Prince’s Trust, Refugee Week and First Light. Cinemas across London will be showing a series of films with a refugee theme in a bid to raise awareness about why people seek sanctuary in the UK and to celebrate the valuable contribution refugees make to our society.
The Film Festival is is also a unique chance to see short films made by talented young refugee film makers. The shorts will be shown alongside the main features, giving audiences an exceptional insight into young people’s experiences of seeking refuge in Britain.
The Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square is devoting an entire day to refugee films including the award-winning ‘In This World’ and ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, each preceded by one of the shorts made by young refugees. These include ‘A Long Way to Piccadilly’, in which a young woman, newly arrived in London and on a bus not knowing when to get off, contemplates how leaving her homeland and being a stranger in a new country, make her feel like a child again.
The Curzon Soho is holding a special preview screening of Michael Winterbottom’s new film ‘Code 46’, starring Samantha Morton and Tim Robbins (not due for release until September). Set in a futuristic sci-fi world, it combines issues of refuge and illegal immigration with a love story. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on refugees and film, chaired by Gareth Evans, Film Critic for Time Out and Vertigo. ‘Code 46’ will be preceded by ‘A Place in Mind’, another of the short films. Made by 15 asylum seekers aged 11 to 18, they express their feelings about home and finding sanctuary, through beautifully worked animation. All the short films by young refugees will be shown on the plasma screens in the mezzanine and cafe areas throughout Refugee Week.
The Ritzy cinema is holding a special screening of the very well received documentary film ‘The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan’. In March 2001, the ruling Taliban destroyed Afghanistan’s foremost tourist attraction, the 1600 year-old Buddhas of Bamiyan. This film follows the story of one of the refugees who now lives among the ruins, an eight-year-old boy named Mir. Following the film, there will be an opportunity to put questions to the director, Phil Grabsky.
The Rio cinema in Dalston is showing a triple bill of films on World Refugee Day, 20 June. These include the brilliant ‘In This World’, ‘Tomato Delivery’ – a short film following the disquieting lament of Lei – an immigrant’s grief over a shattered dream – and ‘Lilja 4-Ever’, the story of a 16 year-old Russian girl living alone and poverty-stricken when she meets and falls in love with Andrej who invites her to emigrate with him to Sweden to start a new life. From 11-17 June, ‘Tomato Delivery’ is being shown ahead of the scheduled feature film.
Other events involving young people are taking place throughout the Festival. An interactive workshop at the Tricycle Theatre will provide an introduction to film making and a special event exploring refugee issues through film is taking place at the National Film Theatre.
Details of the screenings are as follows:
Tuesday 15 June
Curzon Soho: 93-107 Shaftesbury Avenue London W1D 5DY Tel: 020 7734 2255
6.40pm – ‘Code 46’ (Michael Winterbottom). Special preview screening, followed by a panel discussion on refugees and film. The Curzon Soho will be showing short films by young refugees throughout Refugee Week on their plasma screens in mezzanine and café area.
Prince Charles, 7 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7BP, Tel: 020 7494 3654
14:40 – ‘Spare Parts’ – preceded by short film: ‘Seeking’
16:35 – ‘In This World’ – preceded by short film: ‘Long Way to Piccadilly’
18:30 – ‘Last Resort’ – preceded by short film: ‘A Place in Mind’
20:25 – ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ – preceded by short film: ‘Shpresa’s Birthday’
Thursday 17 June
Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, Oval, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW2 1JG, Tel: 020 7733 2229
6.30pm – ‘The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan’. Special screening followed by question and answer session with Phil Grabsky, the director.
Sunday 20 June – World Refugee Day
Rio Cinema, Dalston, 107 Kingsland High Street London E8 Tel: 020 7241 9410
14:00 – ‘In This World’
15:45 – ‘Tomato Delivery’
16.00 – ‘Lilja 4-Ever’
‘A Place in Mind’ will also be shown during the afternoon
For further information about Refugee Week, go to: www.refugeeweek.org.uk
For further information about the Prince’s Trust, the UK’s leading youth charity founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1976, go to: www.princes-trust.org.uk
For further information about First Light, which funds and inspires the making of short films by young people aged 5 to 18, go to: www.firstlightmoview.com