World in Motion theme at heart of Belfast International Arts Festival (11-29 October)

belfest-2016-bannerThe Belfast International Arts Festival is about to enter its 54th year and one of the strands woven throughout its 2016 programme is World in Motion. This theme explores the human face of the migration crisis through film, theatre and word.

lampedusa-in-winterThe Queen’s Film Theatre is screening a short season of films: After Spring (following two refugee families in Zaatari refugee camp), The Music of Strangers, Flotel Europa (the director’s own story of fleeing 1990s Yugoslavia for Copenhagen), Walls (exploring the consequences of division globally through walls), #MyEscape (footage shot by refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea), Lampedusa in Winter (how refugees have become part of the island’s identity) as well as a selection of shorts from Mairéad McClean looking at Irish memory, migration and identity.

David Greig’s new version of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women is being performed by a huge local cast in the Grand Opera House on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October. The original play has at its heart local people arguing for their lives. Those resonances jump into modern times as fifty women leave everything behind to board a boat in north Africa to flee across the Mediterranean. Who are we? Where do we belong? Who will take them in?

Author Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, author of Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis, will be in conversation with Peter Geoghegan (Wednesday 12 at 8pm), discussing her book’s insight into the EU’s chaotic and mismanaged response to the crisis.

The following evening (Thursday 13 at 7.30pm) Dr Rebecca Schaaf will deliver a lecture for the Royal Geographical Society that explores the complexities of the refugee crisis, placing it in a global context and considering the deeper causes and longer term implications.

yvette-cooper-on-refugee-beechAnd Labour MP Yvette Cooper is delivering Amnesty International’s annual festival lecture on Thursday 20 at 7.30pm. Her remarks will look at fixing the refugee crisis and why the UK should do more to help those fleeing violence, conflict and persecution. Followed by a Q&A.

Focus on Refugees will be previewing some of the films and interviewing some of the speakers in the run up to the festival.

If you’re near Belfast, you may want to check out the festival programme. If you’re further afield, many of the films as well as others we’ve featured on this website may be available from their producers and distributors to be screened at events in your area.