Actress Vanessa Redgrave premiered her first film as a director at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday (December 6).
Sea Sorrow focuses on the plight of refugees fleeing to Europe. The screening was hosted by Hammersmith and Fulham Council and was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session.
The Oscar winner chose the town hall for the premiere following the council’s work to break the national deadlock preventing the vulnerable child refugees living in the Calais ‘jungle’ to reach safety.
"People in Britain want to help," Ms Redgrave said to a crowd of around 750 people. "And we need to do the best we can no matter how large the obstacles. And they are large."
Answering questions from the audience campaigner Ms Redgrave described how her ‘soul’ had gone into the film, before announcing she was making a personal donation for charities that have provided the only protection the children in the Calais ‘jungle’ camp received.
"The injustice is huge. But what I’ve heard here tonight is also huge," she added. "This is a difficult time. But seeing everyone here tonight makes me feel like we’re ready to take it on. Thank you for coming. We must save the refugees."
Council leader Stephen Cowan visited the Jungle camp in Calais, and told how the children he met ‘had suffered horrendous trauma’ of torture, beatings and ‘unbelievable cruelty – with many having been raped’. He added: "Their only real protection was provided by the charities and the volunteers. They were the very definition of ‘lost children."
Sea Sorrow focuses on the present and past history of refugees in Europe and was filmed in Greece, Lebanon, Italy, Calais and Twickenham Studios.
The film also looks at the political activist’s own story, beginning as a two-year-old "evacuee" from London at the outset of the Second World War; later as a student volunteer helping Hungarian refugees; concluding with her return to Lebanon to visit Palestinian three-year-olds in a refugee camp nursery school.
It was produced by Ms Redgrave’s son Carlo Nero, who lives in Hammersmith. Also attending were Lord Dubs, the Labour peer who successfully argued that child refugees should be helped in the UK.
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