Refugees

This is Exile
This is Exile

Film can be a hugely effective medium for exploring sensitive social and political issues. At its best, it allows us to look at the world through fresh eyes. The films selected here all focus on the human realities behind the headlines around refugees and displaced people. As the world continues to debate the issues in all their complexity, these films, ranging from low-budget short documentaries to full-scale blockbusters draw on the power of art to elicit empathy and compassion amongst audiences, allowing for greater respect, broader dialogue and cultural understanding. 

An American Tail

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration77 mins

An American Tail(1986)

Warm animated family adventure sees a Russian mouse flee his homeland and persecution by cats for a new life in America.

This classic animated adventure is a warm, accessible access point to talking about the immigrant experience with younger audiences. The film uses its story of mice fleeing persecution from cats as a gentle allegory for the treatment of Jewish people and other minorities.

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Moving To Mars

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration90 mins

Moving To Mars(2009)

Documentary about immigration, focused on two Burmese families who relocate to Sheffield from a Thai refugee camp.

An important documentary following the experience of two Burmese families as they begin their new life in Sheffield, after leaving their Thai refugee camp. With intimate access to their lives, we gain an insight into their moving and often humourous attempts to adjust to life in 21st century Britain, while also showing the human consequences of political oppression.

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Before Night Falls

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration133 mins

Before Night Falls(2000)

The moving and finely-crafted tale of the Cuban Poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas who suffered severe persecution because of his sexuality.

Based on an extraordinary, and often disturbing true story, this biopic of gay Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas is a defiant testament to the power of artistic expression in the face of political oppression. Imprisoned and relentlessly persecuted in his home country, Arenas eventually fled to New York from where he wrote his remarkable story.

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Children Of Men

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration105 mins

Children Of Men(2006)

In the near future an infertility crisis has brought humanity to the brink of extinction and a sole pregnant woman holds the key to survival.

An usually rare political and provocative blockbuster, Children of Men imagines a society where humans have lost the ability to give birth. With society on the brink of collapse, a series of refugee camps have appeared in the UK where the government is imposing oppressive immigration laws. An angry, forceful film about human rights and political extremism.

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Hotel Rwanda

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration121 mins

Hotel Rwanda(2004)

The true story of a man who risked his life to save over a thousand refugees who faced death in a tribal civil war in Rwanda in 1994.

This harrowing, but ultimately inspirational film tells the true story of a man who put his own life on the line to save over a thousand refugees who faced certain death at the hands of their own countrymen in a tribal civil war in the African state of Rwanda in 1994. A remarkable example of using restrained storytelling techniques to tell important stories of utter horror.

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This is Exile

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration55 mins

This is Exile(2016)

Poignant documentary through the eyes and words of children refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria to Lebanese camps.

A sensitive document of the thoughts and experiences of children caught up in the refugee crisis who have been forced to flee their homes in Syria to camps in neighbouring Lebanon. Followed over a year we see how the children live to day to day, play, work and survive with their families in the camps while revealing to the camera their reflections on the violence they have witn

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Hamsa

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration20 mins

Hamsa(2016)

Moving short documentary portrait of a Syrian refugee family who have been relocated to a small German village.

Beginning a new life in the small German village of Schnega, Hamsa welcomes a group of BBC filmmakers into her family’s home to tell them their story, revealing how they have adapted to their new surroundings and how the village have worked to welcome them into their community, chronicling her family’s perilous four-year journey from war-torn Syria to Germany.

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Last Resort

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration73 mins

Last Resort(2000)

A sad, funny and honest film about the problems facing asylum seekers in modern Britain.

Pawel Powlikowski is one of the most significant directors working in European cinema today. This story of a naive Russian woman fighting deportation after arriving in London is both raw and convincing, refusing to give into sentimentality but remaining heartfelt throughout.

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Monsieur Lazhar

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

Monsieur Lazhar(2011)

A poignant and hopeful classroom drama about a new teacher who comes in to help a class deal with a recent trauma.

This sensitive, gentle story about a man who takes on a new class following the tragic death of their previous teacher is a poignant and hopeful classroom drama. It also goes on to explore broader political issues when the man's right to remain in the country is called into question, dealing with its issues in a quietly forceful but tender manner.

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The Kite Runner

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration125 mins

The Kite Runner(2007)

This adaptation is a powerful story of friendship and betrayal set in Afghanistan.

This film, adapted from the 2003 bestselling novel about a young Afghani boy who flees to the west after his country is invaded gives audiences a valuable and important insight into a world largely only seen on news. With the friendship between two boys at its heart, the film is a valuable example of storytelling generating empathy for people less advantaged than ourselves.

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Casablanca

CertU

Age group11+

Duration98 mins

Casablanca(1942)

Against the backdrop of a Nazi-occupied North Africa an American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

One of the most legendary and quoted films of all time, Casablanca is also a profound film about a refugee crisis, focussing on the characters' humanity, rather than seeing them as a burden or a threat. Set at a time when thousands of Europeans found themselves seeking refuge in Arab countries, the film remains as urgent as it has ever been.

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

CertU

Age group7+

Duration115 mins

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial(1982)

This heart-warming family favourite about an alien stranded all alone on earth contains some of the most magical scenes in movie history.

It’s not easy being an alien stranded all alone on Earth. ET - the small, strange, ugly but somehow loveable hero of this heart-warming audience favourite - finds a way of getting on with the human children who are initially confused and scared by his presence in their lives. A magical film that encourages understanding about the fear of finding yourself in a strange place.

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5 Broken Cameras

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration94 mins

5 Broken Cameras(2011)

Thought-provoking documentary highlighting one Palestinian farmer's attempts to record the violence and injustice he witnesses on a daily basis.

This powerfully personal documentary not only draws attention to one of the world’s most problematic humanitarian crises, it also raises philosophical questions about the power, potential and perils of film and the responsibility of filmmakers.

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Welcome

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration109 mins

Welcome(2009)

French drama about a Kurdish teenager attempting to swim the channel to be reunited with his girlfriend.

This moving, provocative story (as its ironic title makes clear) tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a divorcee and a young Kurdish man in Calais seeking to swim the channel. But it is also contains moments of hope and humanity and is a heartfelt ode to those trapped with nowhere to go and the good Samiratans who try and help them.

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Turtles Can Fly

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration95 mins

Turtles Can Fly(2004)

The first film set in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's fall depicts a Kurdish refugee camp, where orphaned children are trying to survive.

A landmark film in Iraq and one which knows all-too-well the struggles of the disenfranchised and displaced, Turtles Can Fly is a moving story of refugee children trying to survive in a modern world which is quickly leaving them behind. The character of Satellite was described as "an heroic role model to the orphaned children and adults alike" by one of our young reviewers

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Grow Your Own

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration97 mins

Grow Your Own(2007)

Bittersweet comedy and parable about how we welcome people into our communities.

A moving and hopeful film about how the refugee crisis is more than just a statistic. This story, about a small group of gardeners who have to adapt to a new refugee family within their ranks, revolves around the damaging and unfair prejudices that exist within micro-communities when they are asked to assimilate.

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District 9

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration108 mins

District 9(2009)

An extraterrestrial race has been living on earth for 20 years, segregated from humans and living in slum-like conditions in South Africa.

Despite being full of creatures from outer space and incredible special effects, District 9 is more than just a science-fiction extravaganza. The film sheds some light on how humanity treats refugees from other cultures and what it might take in order for us to fully comprehend how it must feel to be displaced. This alien analogy is certainly more than the sum of its parts.

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Dheepan

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration115 mins

Dheepan(2015)

Dheepan flees from war-torn Sri Lanka to France with his ‘family’ – a woman and girl who he doesn’t know – in order to start a new life.

A tough watch in many ways but also one of the more important fiction films of the 2010s, this film takes a deep look into the struggles that people of all ages and backgrounds face when they are seeking asylum. Recognised as the best film at the Cannes film festival in 2015, Dheepan is a film which will keep you thinking long after the credits have rolled.

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