Undocument: Exploring the experiences of immigrants through film
Recently I went to a screening of two short films dealing with the experiences of immigrants, and the challenges and prejudices they often face. The films made for powerful viewing, and provide a sharp contrast to the right-wing propaganda we usually hear levelled at immigrants from politicians, fringe movements like the EDL, and some in the media.
This is worrying, when we consider that over the last few weeks and months we’ve seen a rise in far-right extremism, both at home and also across Europe – with politicians increasingly feeling the need to pander to them to secure votes.
Therefore, in this context, it’s vital that we dispel myths about immigrants, and understand the crucial role they have played and do play in British society, and counter the supposed ‘facts’ and figures often peddled.
The Interpreter and Deep Breath are two pieces which are part of Undocument, a feature made up of four short films exploring the effects of immigration on those living it. They go a long way in achieving this. The films humanize the central characters – themselves dealing with the many challenges typically faced in a strange land – by reflecting their humanity rather than stigmatizing them.
The Interpreter follows the life of an interpreter working in a London immigration court, who finds himself becoming increasingly involved with a family at the mercy of a system which seems loaded with contempt for them. The indifferent bureaucracy of the world in which Ramzi works is at odds with his principles as a human being. Ramzi’s need to safeguard his livelihood conflicts with his instincts to help the family, leading him to an unavoidable crossroad.
Deep Breath written by Amin Bakhshian, tells the story of a mother and eight-year-old son who are forced to live in awful conditions, under the constant threat of an extortionist criminal who holds their fate in his hands. They have no choice but to endure the situation if they are to have any chance of making it to the UK and to have a better life.
The first two films are an achievement in themselves, but this project, like many other great initiatives needs support to complete the other films and to spread awareness of what is an important and complex issue, one that needs more attention, and certainly more consideration than it is usually afforded.
The reality of the conditions and the humanity of the people facing these hardships are often lost in a muddle of statistics, numbers, and cheap propaganda, as recently seen with the outrageous tweet and campaign organised by the Home Office.
Kyla Simone Bruce, writer and director of The Interpreter explained why she felt it was important to create these films: “After spending time in immigrations courts and speaking with people who were going through this complex and often difficult process, I was very much affected by my experiences.”
“My intention with The Interpreter was to capture the very real emotions felt by the individuals involved. I didn’t have any specific intentions in terms of pushing any one agenda, just to shed light on the situations that people are going through right here, right now. I wanted to stay honest and truthful to the circumstances and characters and to give a more honest reflection of what is really happening, in contrast to the often generalised viewpoint of the mainstream media.”
For more information visit www.undocumentfilm.com
Tagged in: Deep Breath, immigration, The Interpreter, undocument
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