A film examining the plight of asylum seekers in the UK is in the works by a team of filmmakers, some of whom have experience of being asylum seekers themselves.
It is titled MatarThe feature is from director and activist Hassan Akkad, who won a BAFTA for his BBC documentary Exodus: Our Journey to EuropeIt used footage of his own journey as a Syrian refugee to the UK
Set to highlight the struggles of asylum seekers in the hostile environment of London’s streets and the hardships faced by thousands of migrants trying to exist in this country, the film is based on the experiences of Syrian refugee and photographer Ayman Alhussain. Alhussain, who lent his expertise to Netflix’s Toronto-opener The Swimmers, will serve as camera operator for the project, chronicling the struggles of refugees traveling to Europe.
In front of the lens, the film will be helmed by Ahmed Malek, who also stars swimmersHis co-stars include BAFTA-nominated Youssef Kerkauer (House of Gucci, the house) and Elmi Rashid Elmi (mound)
Based on Alhussain’s own life experiences working as a delivery driver and the stories of the people he met along the way, Matar The filmmakers described it as a drama about “one man forced through no fault of his own to confront the UK’s humiliating and unjust immigration system”.
Matar Greenlighted by digital media publisher and interactive streaming network Waterbear, it marks its first foray into scripted drama. The film will be produced by Deadbeat Studios in association with Waterbear, Choose Love and Bike Project. Sundance-winning producer and Deadbeat head of production Anthony Toma will produce the film, with Finn Bruce serving as executive producer.
“It’s important to us that this film makes an impact in front of and behind the lens. These are our lived experiences and stories that need to be told,” Akkad said.
“At Deadbeat, we believe that film can be a catalyst for social change,” said Deadbeat Co-Founder Boris Thomson-Roylance. “Working with Waterbear Network is a perfect partnership for us as we strive to foster sustainable practice, equality and diversity on-screen and on set.”
Poppy Mason-Watts, WaterBear Network’s Chief Growth and Impact Officer, added: “WaterBear’s core mission is to drive global impact and build an engaged and digital community using storytelling as a vehicle. We look forward to testing a new format in documentary film with Deadbeat to tell this important story that sheds light on the struggles of asylum seekers.
Waterbear Network will spearhead an outreach campaign around the film’s launch.