Films and podcasts allow you to dig deeper into people’s stories which is a brilliant way to find out more about what it is like to be person seeking sanctuary in the UK today. For Refugee Week, 2023, IMIX selects their top film and podcast picks to enlighten, inspire and move.
FOUR UNMISSABLE FILMS
This documentary follows the lives of five refugees as they attempt to start a new life in the UK. The beauty of this film lies in the small moments which are captured: borrowing a friend’s kitchen to cook a romantic meal for a boyfriend, going to an Arsenal football match at the Emirates stadium for the first time and looking back at wedding photos of family you will never be able to hug again. Breaking Barriers, who create meaningful employment opportunities for refugees, worked with Postcard Productions to create the film. A trainee crew made of refugees was recruited to make the documentary. The director and producer of the film, Sam Forsdike said:
‘I hope that this film helps remind viewers that every refugee, every migrant, every person moving from one country to another is an individual with their own story and set of circumstances. Too often refugees are referred to collectively when each person needs to be recognised in their own right. We also hope that this film shows people are not defined just by where they have come from and been through but also what they can do and their dreams for the future.’
Where to watch: Available to view now on Breaking Barriers YouTube channel.
Directed by Hassan Akkad and starring the brilliant Ahmed Malek (The Swimmers), this short docu-drama exposes the reality of life for an undocumented food delivery cyclist. The film’s power lies in how it takes the audience into the underground world of the protagonist, Matar, as he cycles round London delivering food to couples arguing, all night parties and irate customers – always making sure to keep himself as hidden as possible. It is also well worth watching the beautiful making-of film, The First Drop of Rain, which follows Hiba Noor, volunteer assistant director and artist on Matar about her experiences of being stuck in limbo in the asylum system.
Where to watch: Available to screen for free on Waterbear
Name Me Lawand is an inspirational and lyrical exploration of life for a deaf Kurdish boy from Iraq whose family journey from Iraq to Derbyshire to give him the chance of a better life. Directed by Edward Lovelace (The Possibilities Are Endless) and longlisted for the One World Media Awards 2023 in the Refugee Reporting Award category, this moving documentary reveals the power of language, friendship and community.
Where to watch: During Refugee Week, the film will be screened in various regional cinemas so check local listings. It will be on general release from Friday, 7 July when there will also be a panel discussion with the director at the BFI.
Delving deep into the harsh realities of life in the Calais Jungle until its final destruction, On Our Doorstep is told through the eyes of the thousands of volunteers who effectively ran the camp for years. The complexities of untrained and inexperienced civilians is examined as the volunteers attempt to support 10,000 people in need of refuge. The BBC and BFI film critic, Rhianna Dhillon described it as ‘an inspiring and galvanising documentary which highlights the power of filmmaking – it seeks to give voice to those often overlooked and continues to be relevant and vital, to those stranded in Calais and to those who want to help.’
Where to watch: Currently touring with the director, Thomas Laurance and special guests to various screenings across the country.
FIVE ESSENTIAL PODCAST LISTENS
Jaz O Hara founder of The Worldwide Tribe now known as Asylum Speakers has long been an advocate of the power of stories to change the narrative about people on the move. Jaz often talks about her own experiences of extended family – her parents have fostered unaccompanied minors, so the issues discussed are always close. This is a high-quality, in-depth and popular podcast which really takes you into the emotional heart of people’s stories.
The team behind the EbE podcast all come from Refugee Action’s lived experience network made up of people seeking asylum or with refugee status. They bring a unique perspective to issues in the news and politics which affect their lives including the Rwanda scheme, lack of suitable accommodation, the right to work, education and mental health struggles. If you want to hear the voices and stories of those caught in the complexities and restrictions of UK immigration policy, this is a great place to start.
‘There’s a lot of tough choices to be made. Nobody, nobody chooses to be a refugee.’ Guled Mire, activist, policy maker and former refugee.
To mark the 70th anniversary of UNHCR and the signing of the 1951 Refugee Convention, these seven podcasts explore significant humanitarian crises from the last 70 years like the Rwandan genocide and the Syrian civil war in the words of those caught up in them. The personal testimonies are a powerful testament to the strength, resilience and determination of those who are forced to leave their homes in the worst of circumstances and seek sanctuary. Narrated by broadcaster, author and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Anita Rani, it’s a beautifully put together series giving an important overview of the recent history of refugees as well as exploring what the future could look like for those who are forcibly displaced. Essential listening.
This podcast takes a close look at UK immigration policies and how they affect people who want to make the UK their home. They have a range of interesting guests from journalists to academics to activists and policy makers as well as front-line workers and those with lived experience. It is a must-listen for anyone who wants to look in detail at government policies, how they impact those at the sharp end and what can be done to resist recent draconian measures.
And of course we couldn’t write this blog without featuring IMIX’s very own, brand new podcast Un/Documented where we tell the stories behind the headlines. Featuring the people, communities and change-makers so often written about in the news bur rarely listened to. Un/Documented explores how storytelling can drive change and create a narrative of hope. Tune in now to our special Refugee Week episode to hear from the incredible Afghan journalist Zahra Shaheer about her dramatic evacuation from Kabul and how she is building a new life and career in the UK.