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The Watershed


Leave To Remain - June 2015


Nailsea School friends + film producer mate


Leave To Remain is a harrowing story showing how hurt young people have to battle the asylum system to stay in this country.

Made by film producer Kate Cook, a former student at Nailsea School, this is a fictional account of the real life as told by young people fleeing from a myriad of experiences which is still as topical today as it was when the screen play was conceived back in 2008.

Its first showing at The Watershed on Sunday night was to mark Refugee Week 2015 in partnership with Afrika Eye Festival - a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational happenings.

It was introduced by Encounters short film and animation festival director Rich Warren and barrister Charlie Pattison, of Queens Square Chambers, who has just launched the Bristol Immigration Detention Campaign.

Rich said afterwards: “The film was slow to start and showed an air of danger and claustrophobia all the way through with short bursts of real life humour.”

With a minute budget of half a million pounds the film has many settings from foster home to outward bound camp and from nightclubs to formal legal hearings.

Director Bruce Goodison and Kate trawled the country to find youngsters who could accurately portray the characters and speak the languages of the countries depicted.

It gave a 360 degree illustration of what it is like to be young, stateless and scared.

It stars the gifted Noof Ousellam as Omar, a modern day loveable Artful Dodger, with his misfit gang - all with backgrounds of misery to top any Oliver Twist character.

English teacher and mentor Nigel is played by the talented Harry Potter actorToby Jones,

He is the heart-of-gold softy who even makes excuses for the bad behaviour of his clueless teenage son.

Yasmin Mwanza at Zizidi from New Guinea and Masieh Zarrien at Abdul were among the most vulnerable youngsters.

We watch and wait as Omar, this charismatic Afghan teenager, alters the facts to fit the story and ask why?

In parts this film makes you gasp, cry and smile - a gambit of emotions.

Unfortunately Nailsea School cancelled its showing when the Ofsted inspectors arrived last week at the Mizzymead Road campus but have pencilled in a screening for July.

Teachers be warned the film doesn’t shy away from difficult and disturbing subject matters like boy soldiers, forced marriages, sexual and physical abuse, religion and FGM although only one scene is really graphic.

The east meets west cultural clashes are dealt with by humour – the mismatched East London girl and her African rommie, Muslim students performing a nativity play or on the dance floor wearing hideously high platform shoes!

But as Kate explained in the Q&A session at the end: “This wasn’t an X Factor experience for the young actors.”

Five former classmates and long term friends from Nailsea came to the showing to support Kate who lives in London.

PHOTO: From left are Sarah Harris, Katie Hicks, Kate Cook, Amanda George, Wendy Page and Clare Reddington.

  • In 2014 1,861 separated children claimed asylum in the United Kingdom seeking safety from countries where the state has caused them harm or has been unable to protect them. The Refugee Council works to safeguard and improve the lives of separated children in England. The highest numbers arrive from Albania, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Vietnam and Iran. Nearer home In North Somerset the Home Office building occupied by the UK Border Agency on Conference Avenue, Portishead, has been the scene of several protests since it opened more than a decade ago. Protesters chained themselves to the gates to prevent the deporting of illegal immigrants. On only one occasion was property attacked. This is when nearly £20,000 of damage was caused to vehicles in the staff car park. Campaign group No Borders Network have blockaded the office at least three times to prevent staff carry out dawn raids. An average of seven people a week are deported from the UK following operations by the team based in Portishead The main work of the centre is to issue registration cards to asylum seekers applying for the right to stay in the UK and carry out interviews with those going through the immigration process.

Nailsea film producer goes back to school


Did you know that The Voice star Rita Ora was a Kosovo refugee? 


Award-winning producer Kate Cook is going back to Nailsea School to show her cutting edge film about teenaged asylum seekers to a new generation of media students.

The film Leave To Remain is being shown to students on Friday, June 19.

The screening is to mark Refugee Week a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary which runs from Monday to Sunday, June 15-21.

Kate who left the Mizzymead Road comprehensive back in 1996 is an established London-based film producer of dramas and documentaries who has worked with top names like Kenneth Branagh and the band Alt-J.

While in Nailsea and with happy memories of her schooldays Kate, aged 37, looking forward to catching up with some of her North Somerset friends.

The communications with media and cultural studies graduate left Nailsea School armed with a couple of A-levels in English and theatre studies to head for Middlesex University.

And in 1999 she landed a dream job with London-based Oxford Film & Television.

Starting at the bottom of the indie production ladder Kate began as a receptionist and worked her way up to being a fully fledged film producer.

But it took six long years from conception to completion to finish Leave To Remain which has already be shown in art house cinemas up and down the country.

And as well as the special screening at Nailsea School the film will also be shown at the Watershed, Bristol, on Sunday, June 21, both followed by a question and answer session with Kate.

Watershed tickets are £8 with £6.50 concessions and can be booked online HERE or by calling the box office on 0117 927 5100.

Leave To Remain is an inspirational coming of age drama that delves into the unseen world of teenage asylum seekers in the UK.

Omar, a charismatic Afghan teenager finds himself at the precarious juncture of having his refugee status decided when the arrival of another boy from back home threatens to change everything.

Recently arrived in the UK, shy and scared Abdul is placed in a shelter for young asylum seekers where he encounters a society and a system that is seemingly rigged against him.

Setting off a chain of events that threaten his asylum status, Omar is left with a decision between telling the truth or telling a good story.

Faced with a system that seemingly resembles a cruel game of chance, it’s via a fatherly English teacher Nigel played by Toby Jones who takes them under his wing, helping them to learn English, supporting their asylum applications and adjustment to life in a different country, that the difficulties and emotions young people face in this situation are sensitively revealed.

Although a fictional account the story is based on an amalgamation of real life experiences.

Featuring an excellent soundtrack from Alt-J, this is a timely cinematic take on the experience of many seeking refuge in the UK and one of surprisingly few films to explore the complex issues surrounding the asylum process and the plight of refugees living in contemporary Britain.

Bringing the film to fruition has been a labour of love for Kate who has worked with the director Bruce Goodison for 12 years.

She said: “We started researching the film in 2009, so that gives you a sense of how much time and effort’s been involved.

“Together Bruce and I have driven the project.

“I secured all the funding supported the scripts development, oversaw the shoot, edit and have been heavily involved in the ‘direct distribution’ of the film in the UK.

“It’s an emerging approach that involves the film makers retaining the rights to their film and employing their own crack team for cinema bookers, press, PR and marketing people to get the film out there.

“It’s hard and relentless work but it’s increasingly becoming the only way for a lot more ‘art house’ films to be seen.

“It’s also meant we can do more educational screenings, which may have been prohibitive through a more traditional distribution approach.”

As well as working on the multi-award winning television series 10 Days To War starring Kenneth Branagh and Juliet Stevenson and critically acclaimed documentary The Blood Of The Rose about the murder of ecological activist Joan Root in Kenya her more recent credits include BBC drama My Murder with John Boyega, The Kidnap Diaries with Douglas Henshall and Jimi Mistry, police drama Night Shift with Danny Mayes and Ashley Walters and the political thriller Julius Caesar directed by Gregory Doran of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In 2014 she produced the multi-award winning BBC musical drama Glasgow Girls featuring Gary Lewis.

Married for three years to a documentary cameraman Michael Timney, Kate has a stepson Theo who’s nearly eight and a daughter Nell who’s nearly one.

She said: “For our sins, we still live in London but get out as often as possible!

“My mum Denise and dad Chris still live in Nailsea so I’m often passing through and most of my best friends, who I still have from school, live in the area.

“They are like my extended family.”

To read more about the film click HERE.

To read more facts about refugees click HERE.

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