COMMUNITY

Vanessa Redgrave tackles migrant crisis in directing debut

Vanessa Redgrave visited the Eleonas refugee camp in January.

TAGS: Migration, Film

Actress Vanessa Redgrave was expected to attend the premiere of her directing debut in London Tuesday, a film about refugees featuring fellow stage stars Ralph Fiennes and Emma Thompson.

“Sea Sorrow” recounts the lives of refugees fleeing European war zones during the last century and aims to have an impact on viewers.

“We all get tired, we’ve got to be reminded of the deeper things that make it worthwhile to live and to help others, and that’s really why we made this film,” Redgrave, 79, told the Press Association.

The Oscar-winning actress filmed “Sea Sorrow” in countries including France, Greece, Italy and Lebanon, beginning the project after an image of a Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach went viral.

“First and foremost it was my horror at the fact so many refugees were dying who should have been given safe passage, and could have been given safe passage,” she said.

“I thought of it before but when the little boy Alan Kurdi was found washed up, that was the moment that said, ‘Get going, get started.’”

Nearly 12,000 people have died or gone missing crossing the Mediterranean Sea since the start of 2014, according to figures from the UN refugee agency.

After a peak of more than a million sea arrivals in Europe in 2015, so far this year more than 350,000 people have made the crossing.

Redgrave also drew on 20th century experiences for her film, featuring Lord Alfred Dubs, who earlier this year campaigned to have more child refugees brought to Britain.

The Labour politician was a child refugee himself, brought to the UK under the “Kindertransport” program which helped children flee Nazi persecution.

Meanwhile, Redgrave was in Greece twice this year. In January, the actress visited a Doctors Without Borders medical clinic at the port of Piraeus, among others, while in March, she was honored by the Hellenic Film Academy at a ceremony during which she praised Greeks for helping refugees and migrants and slammed the European Union for its reaction to the crisis.

“Sea Sorrow,” which was scheduled to be screened at London’s Hammersmith Town Hall, was produced by Redgrave and her son Carlo Nero, who said it had particular significance at Christmas.

“We have to remember that the Christmas celebration in the religious sense is about persecution and a family of refugees in the Middle East – that is the story and it is our story,” he said.

[AFP, Kathimerini English Edition]

Online