The theme of this year’s festival is “Making Art, Making Home”.
We anticipate a festival full of fun, music, dance, vibrancy, love and hope. But there is another side to the refugee story which cannot be forgotten, and we also welcome submissions to this year’s festival which deal with the cruel reality of the situations people are living in around the world, on our doorstep in Calais, and right here in Scotland.
Film Showing: ‘Calais Children: A Case To Answer’, Plus Panel Discussion
“One woman shook with rage, another cried, one man threw up.
Those were the reactions to Sue Clayton’s “Calais Children: A Case to Answer,” a harrowing, hour-long film and ongoing campaign which follows the fate of the 2000 lone children who were in the “Jungle” camp as it burnt down last year, the vast majority of whom had a legal right to be in the UK.
Before the film began, we spoke to Clayton via Skype who spent some time talking about her experience at the camp and making the film before she had to go and speak to the audiences at the other screenings taking place across the country. It’s easy in this day and age with so much information coming from all directions to be desensitised to the plight of refugees, but with her film Clayton has achieved just the opposite with her moving visual representation of lone, refugee children.
The Dub’s amendment features heavily in the film. An extension of the UK’s Immigration Act, the scheme was named after Lord Alf Dubs who himself was a child refugee arriving in the UK via Kinder Transport from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) during World War Two. He suggested that up to 3000 children could be accepted under this scheme which was created as a result of the EU law known as the Dublin Three regulation, families have the right to stay together. So far, only 300 children have arrived.
The film effortlessly wove together the law and policies which affected the children as well as being brutally honest about the deplorable conditions in which these children are living.
We see children being rounded up by French authorities for reasons unknown to them, with a few names being called out every so often before an unnecessarily aggressive moving on of the children by the French authorities at Britain’s border in Calais. The choices of who is picked and who isn’t selected seem arbitrary with one young lawyer admitting to the camera, that there is no organisation and system to go through each of the children’s cases. Out of a group of four friends, we see that three make it and we are told later that the fourth friend remains homeless in Brussels, unsure of why he wasn’t also picked.
Some of those who never get the call suffocate in the back of lorries, others fall off the barbed wire fences of their prison and die whilst others simply disappear, likely to have been forced into trafficking. We see a shot of an eery looking, makeshift camp graveyard with dozens upon dozens of unmarked graves. Others simply wait for the magical call whilst squatting around in cold, and often dangerous areas unsure of what lies in their future. Hopelessness seems to be the only consistent thing in their lives.
On the other hand, we also see clips of Theresa May’s refusal to let in any more unaccompanied minors, the backlash from the opposition parties, the unsuccessful call from the French president and the protests which followed throughout the the UK. We must keep in mind that many refugees are fleeing their homes because of violence inflicted by this country. An audible gasp also comes from the audience when the film mentioned that it was illegal and fineable for French citizens to even offer the children food, with many of them forced to do so undercover.
The film was also timely and poignant with the current situation in Trump’s America whereby children are being ruthlessly split from their parents at the Mexican border. After it ended, we had a discussion with questions and comments about what was being spent on security, what was being done now and what we could do personally. We had come in, drinking teas and coffees, munching on biscuits in good spirits, speaking to the people around us, we left on a completely different note. In one interview, a child describes the situation in a single sentence: “The politic[s] kills the humanity.”