For Refugee Week 2022, Covid Chronicles from the Margins teamed up with The Sanctuary Working Group at The Open University to facilitate three very exciting events during the week of celebrations. This series of events were part of The Open University’s work towards becoming a University of Sanctuary, and ensuring that they create a culture of welcome and support for students and staff affected by forced displacement and migration.
The first event of Refugee Week was showing of this wonderful short film, composed of Kurdish voices and Welsh animation, made in Swansea in 2021-22 by Shahsavar, Lucy and Tom. The film was made with support from the Arts Council of Wales, and in collaboration with the Open University’s Covid Chronicles from the Margins project. It grew out of our multilingual children’s stories and animations, which you can view on the Hafan Books website.
Shahsavar Rahmani is a professional interpreter in Swansea, originally from Kurdish Iran. Shahsavar interviewed dozens of refugees from Kurdish Iran and neighbouring countries for the Covid Chronicles project. He narrates the film, which presents five interviewees and their stories of persecution, flight, resistance, and hope. Interviews are in Kurdish (Sorani), with English subtitles. Poems by Sherko Bekas and sayings in Farsi and Kurdish frame the film.
Lucy Donald is a professional artist in Burry Port, South Wales. She created striking images and stop-motion animations inspired by interviewees: the title proverb, Ebrahim’s idea that a refugee is like a transplanted tree, the traumatic channel crossings. The images accompany the stories, rather than illustrating them, adding emotive layers.
Tom Cheesman is a retired academic, trustee with Swansea Asylum Seekers Support, editor of Hafan Books. He secured a small grant for this project from Arts Council of Wales, worked closely with Shah on subtitling and audio editing, and used Audacity and Movavi to assemble the film.
The session was not recorded, but the film is available to watch on YouTube. Have a watch!
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