Blog: Refugee Crisis Films at Sheffield Doc Fest 2017

I am a filmmaker and long-term volunteer for Help Refugees and tomorrow I am off to the prestigious Doc Fest in Sheffield.

Primarily I am attending the festival to drum up some interest (and hopefully finance) for my new feature length documentary about volunteering in the Calais ‘Jungle’ which is currently in production and going by the working title ’14 Months in Calais’.

But I also thought the festival would be a good opportunity for me to see what other docs have been (and are currently being) made about the refugee crisis and give readers a taste of what’s in the pipeline. So if you are interested in films about refugees, watch this space over the next 4 days.

After looking through this year’s program a few films have caught my eye…

Three-year-old Lean makes her way from Syria to Sweden with her family in poetic observational doc ‘69 minutes of 86 Days’. I expect to be bewildered and moved by this film’s child’s-eye-view of the crisis.

Two gay Syrian refugees try to rebuild their shattered lives and escape persecution via a shared dream to win an international beauty contest in ‘Mr Gay Syria’. I couldn’t be more excited for this one.

In a classroom in Sicily, recently arrived refugees receive harsh lessons from an ‘unbalanced’ teacher in ‘Stranger in Paradise’. This fusion of documentary and fiction investigates the power relations between Europe and refugees. Damon Wise of Variety says ‘if Lars Von Trier were to make a film about the current immigration crisis in Europe it might very well turn out like this’. This statement both excites and scares me. I’m bracing myself for a challenging ordeal with no easy solutions or happy endings.

Last but not least, I’m particularly looking forward to ‘Future Aleppo’: a physical and virtual exhibition where visitors are invited to explore an interactive paper model of Aleppo which was lovingly built by 13-year-old Mohammed Kteish.

I would just like to add that the opinions I express over the coming days are my own and not those of Help Refugees.

Thanks for reading.

Thomas Laurance

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