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Refugee Week 2022 seminar: No Friends but the Mountains

Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 12:30 to 13:30

Refugee Week 22 OU Sanctuary seminars poster

As part of Refugee Week 2022, the Sanctuary Working Group at the OU is hosting three events to showcase some of the projects that have been taking place over the past year in celebration and support of students and staff affected by forced displacement and migration.

The Sanctuary Working Group at The Open University, in partnership with Covid Chronicles from the Margins, is inviting students, staff and external guests to attend three events taking place during Refugee Week 2022, which runs from Monday 20 June to Sunday 26 June.

To kick off Refugee Week, there will be a showing of the wonderful short film ‘No Friends but the Mountains’, composed of Kurdish voices and Welsh animation, made in Swansea. 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 multilingual children's stories and animations, which you can view on the Hafan Books website.

The film made in Swansea in 2021-22 by Shahsavar, Lucy and Tom.  

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, and 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.  

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