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Screening of ‘Samos on Fire’ documentary in Cambridge for Refugee Week





CamCRAG (Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group) is screening Samos on Fire: Songs in Asylum at Downing Place United Reform Church on June 24 as part of Refugee Week.

The documentary, which has won international awards and is being shown across Europe, charts how refugees on the Greek island spend their day and showcases the incredible musical talent and energy among the African and Middle Eastern musicians effectively incarcerated on the island. The cinema verité style juxtaposes footage showing the chaotic and dire conditions of the Vathy camp, with the joy of singing, musical instruments, and dance.

Bozan playing a Kurdish instrument, Samos on Fire - Songs in Asylum, directed by Cambridge-based Fareid Atta
Bozan playing a Kurdish instrument, Samos on Fire - Songs in Asylum, directed by Cambridge-based Fareid Atta

There is no stopping their sessions despite having to contend with fires, earthquakes, and worst of all… the bewildering asylum process.

Refugee Week Greece said: ”Samos on Fire: Songs in Asylum, shows us that in a world that often seems divided and fractured, music has the power to bring us together, to remind us of our shared humanity, and to create a sense of belonging and connection that transcends borders and boundaries.”

Fareid Atta in Vathy, Samos
Fareid Atta in Vathy, Samos

With the UK Asylum Bill recently passed through the House of Commons, changing the conversation about refugees is in everyone’s interests because “to refuse asylum seekers access to the UK asylum system would not only deny their safety and protection, but would also miss a golden opportunity for the UK to help those who desperately need it”, say the makers of the film. These talented individuals could offer a huge amount to our civic life.

Yorro, the drummer from the documentary who currently lives in Athens said: “Music is very important because it’s a meditation. So, it’s a sort of healing too. I say meditation fulfills you well. Some people know this, and some don’t. So, when you play it, you can sense it, think it, and then you feel something in you. Something is touching you - it’s very important.”

Emile, in Samos on Fire; Songs in Asylum
Emile, in Samos on Fire; Songs in Asylum

In terms of the number of asylum applications per head of population, the UK ranks 22nd highest in Europe.

Fareid Atta, director of Samos on Fire, said: “I believe part of solving the refugee crisis in the UK and Europe is fundamentally changing perceptions of refugees, and showing people how amazingly resilient these individuals actually are. I deeply believe that asylum seekers can offer a huge amount of diversity to the UK.

Fareid Atta films Yorro, a Gambian drummer
Fareid Atta films Yorro, a Gambian drummer

“I see the documentary as an attempt to show the positive side of the refugee’ experience, but more importantly — to show the hopeful attitude individuals brought with them to every moment —no matter how dull or soul-destroying that moment turned out to be.”

Samos on Fire: Songs in Asylum - trailer here, tickets here - will be shown as part of an evening of live music from Bakk Lamp Fall, plus a discussion, at Downing Place United Reform Church on June 24, starting 7.30pm.



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