International Migrants Day celebrations come to East London

In This World Whitechapel Gallery refugee crisis international migrants day
In This World follows two Afghan cousins on their migration to England. Image courtesy of the artists

Coverage of the refugee crisis may have waned but one East London gallery is celebrating and exploring the rich topic of migration in a one-off evening.

The Whitechapel Gallery will bring together film, music and photography on 17 December, the eve of the United Nation’s International Migrants Day.

Headlining the event is a screening of In This World, Michael Winterbottom’s feature film about two Afghan cousins from a refugee camp in Pakistan who make the perilous journey to England, via Iran, Turkey and Italy.

The Bafta Award-winning film was released in 2002. But its themes resonate strongly today in the depths of the migrant crisis, says the screenwriter Tony Grisoni, who will introduce the film on the night.

“We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since World War II,” Mr Grisoni told the Hackney Citizen.

“There is enormous ignorance about the situation – encouraged by careerist politicians and a right-wing media. We need more immigration not less.”

The award-winning screenwriter has lived in Hackney for almost 20 years. He was not able to film in the refugee camp where a section of the film is set. So he created his own camp and peopled it with members of the Kurdish community from Dalston.

The evening will be set to live music from the Trad Academy Sea Shanty Choir, a Hackney-based singing group and Woven Gold, which includes singers from Algeria, Burma, Chechnya, Iran, Kurdistan, Pakistan and many African countries, as well as professional UK musicians.

A series of migrant portraits taken this year will be presented by the photographer himself, Gideon Mendel. He is known for tackling critical issues in this work, including hunger, HIV, flooding and climate change.

International Migrants Day: In This World is at the Whitechapel Gallery on 17 December, 7pm.

Watch the trailer for In This World:

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