Refugee Week: ‘Leave to Remain’ + Special Ticket Offer

Noof Ousellam in Leave to Remain

Photo courtesy of ‘Leave To Remain’.

Coming-of-age British drama, ‘Leave to Remain’ explores just a few of the real-life stories told by young refugees in the UK. 15th-21st June marks Refugee Week and to celebrate, Watershed is putting on a special screening of the film. Yero explores the film and surrounding issues.

***Watershed is holding a screening and Q+A on June 21st with the film’s producer, Kate Cook as part of Refugee Week in partnership with Afrika Eye Festival. If you’re a Rife reader, you can get tickets for a very reasonable £4.50. All you have to do is buy your tickets here  and enter the discount code RIFE2REMAIN at checkout. Or you can phone the box office on 0117 927 5100.***

Leave to Remain’ is a the coming-of-age drama about a group of teenage asylum seekers and refugees living in London under the care and guidance of Nigel (Toby Jones). In one scene, the young group of teenagers test each other about British history. If someone asked me when the Queen’s birthday was, I would simply shrug my shoulders. I have no idea when the Queen’s birthday is, I was born and brought up in England and I will not face deportation for not being able to answer.

Masieh Zarrien & Toby Jones

Photo Courtesy of ‘Leave To Remain’.

The audience will be able to relate to the highs and lows of being a young adult, when we see Zizidi playing a game of ‘Have You Ever?’, all characters have a painful past but are still finding it hard to live in the present time, even in a completely new and seemingly safe country. Both past and present experiences become intertwined as their own singular identity.

Around 5,000 people under 25-years-old apply for asylum in the UK every year.

Charismatic Omar (Noof Ousellam), tentative but troubled Zizidi (Yasmin Mwanza) and withdrawn Abdul (Masieh Zarrien) are the film’s main focus and all three have entirely different stories but their solidarity lies in their pain. Omar is on the brink of adulthood in the sanctuary of London, but has a dark secret he is trying to forget. Zizidi has escaped an abusive marriage and has been succumbed to FGM. Abdul is suffering from PTSD and wakes up in cold sweats but ironically still wears his scruffy ‘I heart Kabul’ t-shirt every day.

Leave to Remain Cast Members

Photo Courtesy of ‘Leave to Remain’.

The film was a three-year project and is based on the real-life stories of young refugees. Acting and filmmaking workshops were set up for cast and the outstanding score was written by award-winning band, Alt-J. ‘Leave to Remain’ shares just a small picture of the atrocities young asylum seekers and refugees go through so many of us can’t even begin to imagine.

Singer and actress, Rita Ora was a refugee from Kosovo and grew up in London.

It’s Refugee Week and a lot of people do not actually know what it means to be a refugee living in the UK. A refugee is someone who has proven to the authorities that they would be at risk if they returned to their home country, OR has had their claim for asylum accepted by the government.

As part of Refugee Week, ‘Leave to Remain’ written and directed by Bruce Goodison (also director of ‘My Murder’) is being screened nationwide. The title is the phrase used to describe the process of getting permanent residency.

Yasmin Mwanza in Leave to Remain

Photo Courtesy of ‘Leave to Remain’.

In recent news, the tragic death of migrants trying to cross over borders in Europe by boat has been dubbed as the ‘Mediterranean Migrant Crisis‘ by the media. Pregnant women are risking their lives (along with their unborn babies lives) just to have a better chance of living.

These are stories of young people in the UK that need to be told.

Sun correspondent Katie Hopkins (you can use Google to find out more about her, if you must) used hateful and derogatory language in a controversial article where she referred to migrants as vermin, which brought us back to the prohibited language of the Rwandan genocide.  But not all people feel like this.

In fact hundreds of protestors held a demonstration last Saturday outside the Yarl’s Wood detention centre, calling for its closure. Detention is somewhere you go when you forget your PE shorts or burst out laughing during a science test. I can’t see the correlation between wanting a better life and moving to another country, and doing something wrong. Yarl’s Wood is a place for people who are awaiting deportation and has a reputation of being Britain’s worst immigration removal centre, where immigrants are treated like prisoners.

Leave to Remain Cast


‘Leave to Remain’s’ realistic dramatic plots and impeccable acting, has created conversations that aims to dispel the ‘them and us’ feeling society holds in the UK. Goodison’s documentary background makes the film a beautiful and transparent documentation of what it really is like to be a young refugee in the UK. Film is a proactive way of sharing the stories that aren’t at the forefront of todays discussions and bringing the viewers into a completely new world that they can only imagine.

Watershed is holding a screening and Q+A on June 21st with the film’s producer, Kate Cook as part of Refugee Week in partnership with Afrika Eye Festival. If you’re a Rife reader, you can get tickets for a very reasonable £4.50. All you have to do is buy your tickets here  and enter the discount code RIFE2REMAIN at checkout. Or you can phone the box office on 0117 927 5100.

If you do watch the film,  tweet us your thoughts — @rifemag

 Has this article affected you in anyway? Are you seeking asylum in the UK or know anyone who is? Perhaps you’d like some extra information about resources in Bristol, let us know.

Related Links:

Find out more about Refugee Week

Find out more about Refugee Action in Bristol

Get in contact with Bristol based women’s support at Refugee Council

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