Films for refugee campaigning

Films can be used to get people interested and involved in campaigns around refugee issues.

District Zero filmDistrict Zero (2015). The film narrates the daily life of a tiny mobile phone shop in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, the second largest in the world. The phone memory cards of Maamun’s customers contain their past in Syria – happiness, routine, family life – before the war came, followed by destruction, fear and flight. Maamun rebuilds photos and sound, recovers lost content, recharges batteries, and restores the only link his neighbours still have with Syria. And together with his friend Karim, they print off the photos which have filled up the mobile phones of the people who live in Za’atari. What can a smartphone of a refugee reveal to us about his world? Produced by Arena Comunicación and with the support of Oxfam and European Commission.

The Student Christian Movement highlights a list of films that can be used to get people interested and involved in campaigns around refugee issues.

Casablanca (1942). A film about Jewish refugees in the 2nd world war which was quite outspoken for its time. The issues it presents are the same ones refugees face today: despotic leaders, fear, violence, war, people smugglers and colonialism.

America America (1963). A film by a Greek-American director which tackles the story of the refugees who fled the oppression of the Ottoman empire and the Armenian and Greek genocides. Stathis Giallelis won the golden globe for his acting in the film.

El Norte (1983). A realistic and hard-hitting portrayal of the journey and subsequent lives of two Guatemalan immigrants who leave their country when their family are killed by the army. On arrival in the US, their lives continue to be hard as they face illegal work in kitchens and sweatshops and fear being caught by the immigration police.

In this World (2002). A film about Afghani cousins Jamal and Enayat who make their way from a Pakistani refugee camp all the way to the UK, in the hands of people smugglers. The film captures the refugees’ hope, misery, frustration and occasional joy.

Children of Men (2006). A dystopian thriller about refugees by renowned director Alfonso Cuaron. It is the future and the UK has become a fascist state in which asylum seekers fleeing oppression and seeking refuge are hunted down and forced to live in offshore penal colonies. The main character is charged with protecting a pregnant African refugee.

The Visitor (2007). A look at immigration in the US post-9/11. A Conneticut college professor befriends a Palestinian-Syrian drummer and his girlfriend- a jewellery designer from Senegal. Their precarious situation suddenly becomes evident when immigration police and detention come knocking.

Welcome (2009). A French film about an Iraqi-Kurdish boy’s attempt to swim the channel to seek asylum in the UK. It shows the reality of life in Calais for refugees, where bullying and aggression from police is made worse by the fact that citizens found helping and hosting refugees can be arrested and imprisoned.

When I Saw You (2012). A Palestinian film about a family in a refugee camp in Jordan where thousands of Palestinians have fled to following the outbreak of war and the occupation of their land in 1967.

The Pirogue (2012). A Senegalise film about boat people and people smugglers crossing the North Atlantic in a tiny, dangerous boat to start a new life in Spain. It brings home the reality for thousands of people who attempt this kind of journey, often with tragic results, every year.

Into the Fire (2013). A documentary about refugees arriving in Athens in the middle of the financial crisis in Greece. Things are hard for the Greek people, but for the newly arrived asylum seekers, they are much worse.

The Land Between (2014). A film tracking the lives of Sub-Saharan migrants trapped in between the violence of the Moroccan authorities and the violence of the Spanish authorities.