Friday, 19 June 2009

Refugee Week

by Kathryn Hadley

Refugee Week was launched, at the beginning of the week, on June 15th, and ends on Sunday June 21st. The launch of Refugee Voices, an audio-visual archive of 150 interviews with Holocaust survivors and refugees, yesterday evening, at the Wiener Library was notably designed to mark Refugee Week 2009.

Refugee Week is a wide programme of events to celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK. Events explore the experiences of refugees and range from exhibitions, to debates, conferences, film screenings, music and sporting events. Refugee Week was first held in 1998 and was created in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain.

The BFI Southbank is hosting a Refugee in Films Festival this weekend, which will address issues of representations of refugees and migrants in the film industry. Film screenings will include The Betrayal about the experience of a Laotian family who fled to the United States in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War the US Army also waged a secret war in Laos. Following the withdrawal of the US Army, however, Laotian supporters of the Americans faced imprisonment or execution. This film is the result of a twenty-year-long collaboration between the director Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasaveth, a refugee and the co-director, and tells the story of the Laotian Phrasavath family, who took refuge in America after the war. The film is a recent Academy Award nominee for the best documentary feature.

Further information about planned events is available on the Refugee Week website. The website also includes an ‘Info Centre’ page with sections devoted to history’s most famous refugees, how refugees have been portrayed in film, music and literature and interviews with refugees living in Britain today.

The Betrayal
June 21st, 3.50pm
BFI Southbank
Belvedere Road South BankLondon SE1 8XT

For further information on immigrants and refugees in British society from the 16th century to the present, visit our Focus Page.


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