Since 2016 the London-based Migration Collective has been organising public events and projects aimed at challenging the current narrow rhetoric on migration. Coordinated by the collective, the aim of London Migration Film Festival, running this year from 28 November to 4 December across the city, is to portray the diversity, nuance and subjective experience within migration, including and beyond the refugee experience, in order to restore the dignity and humanity inherent within it. The organisers note, “We hope to challenge the rhetoric that overwhelmingly reduces migrants to simplistic categories: enemies or victims, passive or active. And in the process we hope to challenge our viewers. As during its first three editions, LMFF 2019 will include a diverse range of activities, such as films, plays, panel discussions, workshops, live music, as well as plenty of opportunities for networking.” Ahead of the festival’s launch, Something Curated highlights a selection of projects and events we are most excited by.
Ága (London Migration Film Festival Opening Gala) || Milko Lazarov
In the snowy Northern wilderness, Nanook and Sedna dream to reunite with their daughter Ága, who has left the slowly eroding traditional way of life a long time ago. In a yurt on the snow-covered fields of the North, Nanook and Sedna live following the traditions of their ancestors. Alone in the wilderness, they look like the last people on Earth. Nanook and Sedna’s traditional way of life starts changing – slowly, but inevitably. Hunting becomes more and more difficult, the animals around them die from inexplicable deaths and the ice has been melting earlier every year. Chena, who visits them regularly, is their only connection to the outside world – and to their daughter Ága, who has left the icy tundra a long time ago due to a family feud. When Sedna’s health deteriorates, Nanook decides to fulfil her wish. He embarks on a long journey in order to find Ága. A wine reception will be offered before the screening by the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS.
Thursday 28 November, 7.10pm at SOAS, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre
Bangla + Q&A || Phaim Bhuiyan
Phaim is a young Muslim of Bangladeshi origins. At 22, he lives with his family in Torpignattara, a multi-ethnic neighbourhood of Rome. He works as a steward in a museum and is the leader of a rock group. During a concert in which he’s supposed to play, Phaim meets Asia, a girl that is his exact opposite – pure instinct, no rules. Between the two it is a sudden attraction and Phaim will need to understand how to reconcile his love for this girl with the most unbreakable rule of Islam: no sex before the wedding night.
Sunday 1 December, 6.30pm at Genesis Cinema
Ramen Shop || Eric Khoo
Masato is a young ramen chef in the city of Takasaki in Japan. After the sudden death of his emotionally distant father, he chances upon a suitcase of memorabilia and a red notebook – filled with musings and old photos – left behind by his Singaporean mother who died when he was just ten years old. Acting on a hunch, he takes off for Singapore with the notebook, hoping to piece together the story of his life, as well as that of his parents. There he meets Miki, a Japanese food blogger and single mother who helps him track down his maternal uncle Ah Wee, who runs a bak kut teh stall. Masato discovers that his grandmother Madam Lee is still alive, and that she holds the key to the tender yet turbulent love story of his parents. Masato and his grandmother try to heal each other’s broken souls, and find salvation in the kitchen where the meals they cook become more than the sum of their ingredients.
Saturday 30 November, 7pm at Genesis Cinema
Chez Jolie Coiffure || Rosine Mfetgo Mbakam
Step inside a tiny underground hair salon in the immigrant Brussels district of Matonge and meet its charismatic owner, a Cameroonian immigrant named Sabine. More than a place for women to get their hair done, Jolie Coiffure serves as a community hub for West African women, many from Cameroon, like Sabine, who runs the salon. Fuelled by endless cans of soda and cups of McDonald’s coffee, she recruits for a tontine, an investment scheme paying each member a yearly annuity, organises accommodation for a pregnant woman who lacks immigration papers, and, in quieter, more introspective moments, tells her own harrowing journey to Belgium after working as a domestic under terrible conditions in Lebanon. Though she has created a home in her own space, Sabine remains an outsider in Belgium. Students and tourist groups made up only of white people walk past, pausing at the window and gawking. When word has it that the immigration police are coming through, she hurriedly turns off all the lights and quickly vanishes out the door.
Monday 2 December, 6.15pm Upstairs at the Ritzy
Panel/Discussion: Media and Migrant Decision-Making
Almost every day people in the global North are able to read about migration tragedies: from deaths on route, to the discrimination faced even once the destination is reached. But what role does, could and should the media have in influencing people’s decisions about whether to migrate? Some organisations are starting to focus on showing prospective migrants the ‘realities’ of migration – in which the journey is sometimes more dangerous then what is being fled. But how powerful is the media in shaping decision-making? Whose interests are being protected by these messages? And what distinguishes openly acknowledging the risks and dangers of migration from deterrence? Who could make media that strikes the right balance? And what might such a balance look like? This interactive panel will explore these and many other questions with a varied group of experts with both lived and professional experience.
Saturday, 30 November, 12pm Upstairs at the Ritzy
Feature image: Still from Chez Jolie Coiffure, Rosine Mfetgo Mbakam (via London Migration Film Festival)