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Trouble Sleeping: 11 Dec 08, Glasgow Film Theatre November 24, 2008

Posted by Community InfoSource in about.
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trouble_sleeping1Trouble Sleeping, a hit at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, will be screened at Glasgow Film Theatre on Thursday 11 December, part of an Amnesty International programme of events celebrating 60 years of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Co-written by Community InfoSource Director Ghazi Hussein, Trouble Sleeping is an award-winning “raw-edged and passionate” portrait of the lives of Edinburgh’s refugee community. Following the screening will be a short panel discussion featuring Ghazi Hussein and film director Robert Rae.

Trouble Sleeping, about asylum seekers struggling with the British legal system, is described by Edinburgh International Film Festival director Hannah McGill as a ‘passionate collective effort… inspiring, provocative stuff’ and is all the more remarkable because it is told by refugees themselves.

The project was the brainchild of Robert Rae, artistic director of the Edinburgh Theatre Workshop. ‘It was an opportunity to tell a story from their perspective,’ he said.

‘For refugees escaping political persecution, the fact they are political makes them committed to where they come from. To go into a strange world and a strange culture is tough.’

Rae hand-picked a team of writers with direct experience of the issues facing refugees in Scotland’s capital, including Edinburgh-based Palestinian playwright Ghazi Hussein.

‘We listened to each other’s stories and made them into a fairly coherent, complex narrative,’ Rae explained.

One character has been refused asylum so turns to a woman friend for help – although if she does help him her own life will be ruined. It also features an Iranian who poses as a gay man in order to claim refugee status while disguising the fact from his Iranian friends that he really is a homosexual.

‘Although it is fictionalised, everything is true and the individual refugees are often playing their own stories,’ says Rae. ‘You can have a legitimate claim to asylum but through lack of communication skills you can find yourself being deported.

‘Security forces say on their websites that in many situations if they can’t deport someone because they have no evidence then they will do it on the basis of non-compliance.

‘So people coming here are faced with a really complex legal challenge in a different language and documents written with a different script. And they have to try to represent what happened to them. I hope people see the film and look at the world through their eyes.’

Producer Eddie Dick believes Trouble Sleeping is a wake-up call to people who are hostile towards asylum seekers and to politicians seeking to grant longer detention powers to the police.

‘How can we sleep soundly unless we treat these people equitably and fairly?’ he asked. ‘It is something urgent for us to deal with on a human level, not in terms of extending detention to 42 days or charging people when they are not even allowed to know the charge against them.’

Rae persuaded professional actors Gary Lewis, Alia Alzuogbi, Alison Peebles and Nabil Shaban to work alongside the amateurs, but there is no question of who the real stars are. However, some of the refugees involved wish to keep a low profile, fearing that their families might be persecuted in their home countries.

One of the few actors willing to speak was Waseem Uboaklain, 38, who worked as an aircraft engineer in Palestine but now runs a cafe in Edinburgh: ‘Scottish people are generally very welcoming, but only after they know you. Perhaps a film like this will give more people an idea of who asylum seekers are.’

see www.trouble-sleeping.co.uk for more info on the film

and click here for an interview with producer Eddie Dick on the Shadowplay film blog

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