Acclaimed actress Vanessa Redgrave will host the European premiere of her first film as director ‘Sea Sorrow’ at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday (6 December).
She chose Hammersmith Town Hall for the premiere following the council’s efforts to break the national deadlock preventing the vulnerable child refugees living in the Calais ‘jungle’ to reach safety.
The local human rights activist directed the star-studded film which features her own displacement as a child during the Second World War, as well as the experiences of refugees from other historic and modern conflicts.
"This film is a requiem for the thousands of refugees who have died through lack of support and protection,” Vanessa says.
“I hope the film may be of some help to people and agencies who do their utmost to support the refugees who have survived, most especially to their children.”
A Q&A follows the screening, with Vanessa, child refugee campaigner and Hammersmith resident Lord Alf Dubs, and Stephen Cowan, Leader of H&F Council, answering questions. They will be joined by Andrej Mahecic, the UK spokesperson for UNHCR, and Martin Sherman, a playwright whose grandparents fled from the pogroms in Tsarist-ruled Ukraine.
The event is free and starts at 7.30pm. A collection for refugee charities will be made at the door.
“It’s a privilege to screen the film at Hammersmith Town Hall and wonderful that Vanessa and Lord Dubs, who have done such tremendous work on these issues, could make themselves available to speak with residents afterwards,” said Cllr Cowan.
“The plight facing the children in Calais along with refugees without a home in other countries is an outrage and a stain on our society.
“I defy anybody to see the subject brought to life in Vanessa’s wonderful film and not feel compelled to take action.”
Sea Sorrow was produced by Hammersmith resident Carlo Nero.
It was filmed in Greece, Lebanon, Italy, Calais and Twickenham Studios. Vanessa focuses on the present and past history of refugees in Europe.
Vanessa tells her own story beginning as a two-year-old 'evacuee' from London at the outset of World War Two; later as a student volunteer helping Hungarian refugees; concluding with her return to Lebanon to visit Palestinian three-year-olds in a refugee camp nursery school.
Lord Alf Dubs, the Labour peer, explains why he is passionate about assisting child refugees to gain their rightful protection in the UK. Alf has inspired people all over the country to do what they can to help the refugee children.
Sir Peter Sutherland, who has been advising the UN General Secretary on international refugee protection explains simply and forcefully why European governments must not break the conventions on asylum for refugees.
Ralph Fiennes, Emma Thompson and Simon Coates contribute unique scenes for the refugees, while the valiant Juliet Stevenson who spent nine months working for the Calais children, alongside Help Refugees, Citizens UK and Safe Passage.
In includes a scene from Shakespeare’s Tempest by Fiennes and Lord Dubs’ reflections of his escape from the Nazi occupation on the Kindertransport.
As well as artistic interpretations, the film includes documentary-style pieces on modern day survivors from conflicts and persecution in the Middle East and Africa.