Reminder of the timetable for tomorrow’s #UCL Urban Migration Film Festival and Symposium

Nearly 200 people have signed up to the UCL Urban Migration Film Festival and Symposium! Make sure to arrive in good time to secure a place if you’re planning to attend tomorrow. Here below is the final timetable:

OPENING 09:30-09:45
Chronicle of a Summer Jean Rouch 09:45-10:45
Crossroads at the Edge of Worlds Charles Heller
Encounters at the End of the World Werner Herzog
Sudeuropa Raphaël Cuomo, Maria Iorio
The Invisibles Marc Silver
The Other Side Eva Palacios
DISCUSSION A: Migrants on the move – Victor Buchli, Tamar Garb, Yohai Hakak, Searle Kochberg (Chair) and Eva Palacios 10:45-11:15
COFFEE BREAK 11.15-11.30
Statue of Liberty Ken Burns 11:30-12:45
Odessa… Odessa Michale Boganim
News from Home Chantal Akerman
Kenedi Goes Back Home Zelimir Zilnik
Calais Marc Isaacs
Bananas Is Not My Business Helena Solberg
DISCUSSION B: Migrants in transition – Victor Buchli, Tamar Garb, Yohai Hakak, Searle Kochberg (Chair) and Eva Palacios 12:45-13:15
Lift Marc Isaacs
Refuge England Robert Vas
West Indians Jack Gold 14:15-15:15
Handsworth Songs John Akomfrah
Trapped in Transition Alexandra Urdea, Amy Greenbank, Lucrezia Barnes-Dacey, Roz Corbett
Little Georgia Manal Wicki, Laura Haapio-Kirk, Daria Prokhorova
Esprit de l’escalier Searle Kochberg
COFFEE BREAK 15:15-15:30
Lisboetas Sérgio Tréfaut 15:30-16:15
Breaking the Plain Christy Johnson
Fragments from the Past Julie Scott
DISCUSSION C: Reflecting on the past, negotiating the present and moving forward – Leslie Hakim-Dowek, Marc Isaacs, Sushrut Jadhav, Christy Johnson, Anne Kershen and Laura Vaughan (Chair) 16:15-17:00
Drinks reception at Central House (ticket holders only). The City That Exploded Slowly, a photo-text series by Leslie Hakim-Dowek, will be screened as a slide-show during the reception

Sign up for the UCL Urban Migration Film Festival here

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‘Sudeuropa’ an image work on the spatial materialisation of immigration policies on Lampedusa

Sudeuropa (Raphaël Cuomo and Maria Iorio, 2005-07)

In the opening section of the day, Journeys, we will feature Sudeuropa (2005-07), a moving image work by Raphaël Cuomo and Maria Iorio which charts the spatial materialisation of European and Italian immigration policies on the island of Lampedusa. Portraying the everyday life of several immigrant workers in the tourism economy, it simultaneously engages with the media re/presentation of the ‘immigrant threat’: the capture, detention and deportation of undocumented migrants. Focussing on the airport and the port, the film superimposes the circulation of tourists and goods with the stories of deportation and failed journeys. Voices of one of the authors and a man who changed his Arabic name to Paolo (to avoid the everyday racism of the island) weave these various loose threads together.

See more information about the film here

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‘Trapped in Transition’ – life on the streets for EU accession migrants in London

Trapped in Transition. (Alexandra Urdea, Amy Greenbank, Lucrezia Barnes‐Dacey, Roz Corbett, 2009)

Waves of immigration from the former Yugoslavia, the new EU accession countries, as well as Russia, have brought many East Europeans to London, changing the ‘urban feel’ of the city. However, the dream of a stable job is harder to accomplish and the economic integration remains a dream.

Trapped in Transition portrays a side of living and searching for job in contemporary London, a city owing its economic growth to a flexible regime of accumulation. This is a parallel ‘London’, showing the other side of this system, where increasingly more often Central and Eastern European migrants ends up sleeping rough on the streets of London (18-25% and gradually increasing), whilst searching for or holding a one-day job.

This film presents the story of two East European immigrants and the way in which homelessness is experienced, negotiated and made sense of. It is about policy-exclusion and generosity, competition for scarcity of resources, exploitation from other ethnic communities as well as their own, but also kinship and migrant networks, dignity and hope. A new geography of London is unveiled through these stories. A street-crossing in Cricklewood, North London is the new centre of these economic migrants to be recruited for one-day job in the construction sector.

Even in this ‘parallel’ London, immigrants inhabit and imagine London in their own manner, creating specific networks and mental maps of the city, and interacting with other Londoners in culturally specific ways.

The film was created at the UCL Urban Documentary Film Workshop, London in Motion.

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‘The Invisibles’ a film about the dangerous passage of migrants through Mexico to the US

The Invisibles. A Hidden Journey across Mexico. (Marc Silver & Gael García Bernal, 2010)

Documentary can be a powerful politicalinstrument, to give voice to the voiceless, and to raise awareness and responses in the international community. Amnesty International, producer Marc Silver, and internationally acclaimed Mexican actor/director Gael García Bernal knows this well. The Invisibles (A Hidden Journey across Mexico) is part of a wider Amnesty International campaign aimed at defending migrants passing across Mexico and raising awareness and actions against a tragic human rights crisis occurring right now.

Every year, 400,000-500,000 Central American and other migrants travel across Mexico in an often tragic attempt to reach the Promised Land on the other side of the Rio Grande. Kidnapping, extortion, rapes, murder and disappearance of human beings (los migrantes desaparecidos) accompanied their journey, which they endure anyway in the hope of a new life (for them and their children) far from the poverty they have left behind. It is a long-running human rights crisis which “should have been a priority” and which instead is concealed in silence. (see, article on the film at

The Invisibles, their families and thefew supporting organisations tell this story: aiming on the one hand, to shed light on the plight of migrants travelling through Mexico, to inform and prepare the Central and Latin American communities to the difficulties of the journey (the ‘train of Death’); on the other hand, to put pressure on the Mexican government to fulfil its obligations to protect the migrants and on the International community to recognise it as a human rights crisis and act accordingly.

The film chapter we have chosen gives voice to the families left behind, and to those working to turn the invisible visible. ‘’There need to be official records of migrants deaths – not only so that they are no longer disappeared, but that in life, they cease to be invisible’’, the chapter concludes.

See the four-part documentary in full on Amnesty’s website (English subtitles): Amnesty International has just released another film on the subject, see:

Background on the film makers:

Marc Silver ( “was born in London and works worldwide as a filmmaker and creative director. He has collaborated with several major artists such as Nitin Sawhney, Michael Nyman, Ben Okri, Matthew Herbert and Cirque Du Soleil. His art installations and documentaries identify locations of power and potentials for resistance. Silver’s primary interest is in exploring the construction of physical and psychological barriers, in a time where the world is seemingly ever more connected and unbordered.”

García Bernal is an internationally acclaimed actor (among others, starring in La Mala Educacion, Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien). He co-produced and acted in The Invisibles, “trying to find new ways of talking about migration. For him, it’s about social justice. Alternative to the political, economic, and electoral discourse on migration, he is trying to give voice to the migrants themselves. They have a lot to say.” (See interview in full at:

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‘Lisboetas’ an award-winning film about daily life for migrants in Lisbon (Sérgio Tréfaut, 2004)

Lisboetas (Sérgio Tréfaut, 2004)

Lisboners (people of Lisbon) celebrates the ancient notion of citizenship, the right to the city in the making, in each migrant’s daily life, living and working. It is set in Lisbon but it happens in London, New York, Paris, Rome… anywhere. The Lisboners are people from Brazil, Guiné-Bissau, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, Ukraine, Moldavia, Russia, and Estonia.

Sérgio Tréfaut, a migrant himself, challenges prejudice and stereotypes and creates ‘’new forms of awareness and new patterns of thought to understand the presence of immigrant communities in Europe.’’ (Passos, 2008). He gives voice to the multiple ways the diverse migrants’ communities and individuals live and negotiate their way in the city and in Portuguese society, in pursuit of a migratory project, sometimes undefined, certainly adaptable and often endless.

The two clips we have chosen – a Ukrainian iconostasis painter and a Russian mother and children – represent different aspects of negotiation regarding work, education, leisure, or religion. Negotiation is also adaptation, drawing on multiple resources embedded in the kinship, as well as thinking of practical or imaginary exit strategies. It brings creativity, hope, sympathy and awareness. ’’For the public, each of the immigrants who feature in the film represents a figure for human solidarity in a way that eludes the simple reference to statistics. Immigrants are people, not just percentages or “problems,” as they are so often represented in the media.’’ (Passos, 2008).

This documentary had a huge impact beyond the Portuguese society, awarded the first prize for best Portuguese film in the Indie Lisboa – International Independent Film Festival (2004), it received wide attention from Atalanta Filmes production (2006) and received scholarly attention too – see Joana Passos’ review in the Journal of AfroEuropean studies).

Background on the film-maker:

Sérgio Tréfaut was born from a Portuguese father and a French mother, in Brazil (São Paulo, 1965), and he has lived in several countries. He graduated in philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris, and he went on to study video reporting at the American Film Institute. Currently, he is the director of Doc Lisboa, a film festival for documentaries. Lisboetas is his 4th documentary. (Source: Passos, 2008).

Passos, J., 2010. Lisbon, ‘Lisboetas and Portugal: immigrants’ stories and hosts’ prejudice’. Afroeuropa: Journal of Afroeuropean Studies [Online] 2 (3).

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‘News from Home’ on migrant life in New York told through letters home to Belgium

News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1976)

In News From Home (1976), Chantal Akerman explores the personal as the political. New York is a grid within which thousands of anonymous stories compete with the author’s own which is told through her own readings of her mother’s letters from Belgium. Akerman’s everyday as an immigrant woman who moves on from one menial job to another while trying to make films is subsumed in a quietly passionate exploration of Manhattan streets and the comings and goings on subways. The specifically cinematic explorations of formal composition, duration, architecture and repetition coexist with an evocation of an immigrant’s alienation from her surroundings, her past, family and origins.

Chantal Akerman’s academic homepage can be found here

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Encounters at the End of the World, by Werner Herzog

Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)

Who better than the cinematic explorer Werner Herzog to capture the migration stories of the scientists and maintenance and support workers from all over the world that can be found at the southernmost human inhabitation which is the McMurdo Antarctic Station? Encounters at the End of the World(2007) which is featured in the Journeys section of the festival, visits Ernest Shackleton’s original base and its bygone collective Imperial aspirations while wondering at the motivations, the skill and passion of the seemingly-random collection of individualistic migrants. The extreme natural environment which apparently dominates all of these people’s actions, puts into relief the mysteries of uprootedness and inhabitation specific to our species.

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