Review The Watershed Leave To Remain 2015
Former Nailsea School student debut as producer
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 actor Toby 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 roomie, 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.