Lost Land International Film Festival at Partisan, Manchester, 18 November 2018, from £3 - Book now
The refugee crisis is undoubtedly one of the most pressing issues we face as a society today. Lost Land Film Festival is a free-to-enter event, founded on the belief that no one should suffer because they had to flee their own country and devised in order to help raise funds for organisations that help refugees. Scheduled over one day at Partisan in Manchester, the festival features short films made by or about immigrants or refugees, with proceeds going to non-profit organisations Help Refugees and Safe Passage.
The films themselves have been whittled down from a massive 1393 submissions to 29 shorts from 18 different countries and have been divided into into three programme strands. With ‘Life’, the festival presents films which depict the lives, challenges and everyday realities of life as a refugee. For example, documentary film The Pianist of Yarmouk tells the real life story of Aeham Ahmad, a classically-trained musician attempting to escape the war in Syria. Meanwhile, New York-set short Salam, follows a Lyft driver as she negotiates a night shift, whilst waiting to hear life-or-death news from Syria.
The second section is ‘Hope’, which features a series of inspirational films. Included amongst others here is M.A.M.O.N. (MONITOR AGAINST MEXICANS OVER NATIONWIDE), a bizarre looking sci-fi which we’re told includes a “Trump-like mecha robot” and a “portal to another reality.” More conventional sounding is One Hundred Years Running – the story of Giuseppe Ottaviani, a 100-year-old athlete – and Polish film, Tęcza(Rainbow) about a man who tries to start a new life in a country ruled by terror.
Importantly, the festival’s third strand is titled, ‘Made By Us’ and provides a direct voice by highlighting films made by immigrants and refugees. There’s tremendous variety in this strand too, with personal films that deal with the everyday, placed alongside those that depict terrible, life-or-death events. Maryam Mohajer’s Red dress. No straps is set in Tehran, 1985, and explores cultural contradictions as a girl recalls chants of ‘death to America’ heard at school, whilst imploring her grandmother to make her a dress to match a US popstar. Meanwhile, from director Orwa Alahmad, Final Letter is the tragic true story of a Syrian refugee who drowned in the sea when he tried to reach France.