This blog post has been written by one of our young volunteer Review Writers, Umar Majeed (17). Here he shares his personal impressions of an outdoor community film screening of the film LIMBO that we were kindly invited to by T A P E Collective at the mac (Midlands Arts Centre) on the 10th August, which we took a group of 20 young people along to.
There are three key ways in which you can get an insight into a specific culture: food, music and cinema. This night merged them all together, allowing us all to not only appreciate our differences, but to admire them.
The evening began at 7pm, after a rather considerable stroll from The GAP youth hub to the MAC in the centre of Cannon Hill Park, where we were given a warm welcome by all of the staff. The weather was perfect for an outdoor movie night, not too cold and not too hot. We took our places in the gardens, on the brick seats which were organised as a semi-circle, creating a rather unique and inclusive vibe. This was reinforced by the decorations around the garden, like the “Refugees Welcome” banner that was hung up in reference to the film.
Before we knew it, the food was ready and it was wonderful. A fusion of sweet and savoury rice, vegetable kebabs, hummus and baba ganoush, alongside Naan bread and to top it all off, Coke cans (you can’t have rice without a glass of Coke). This food provided us with an insight into Middle Eastern culture, simply through the complex aromas and tastes.
After a warm meal, it was time for the music. A musician named Kadialy Kouyate sat in the centre of the stage dressed in traditional robes and held in his hands a Kora, which is a type of string instrument. The audience was entranced by the phenomenal music. It created a sense of peaceful contemplation - everyone remained silent, absorbed by the melodic instrument and the emotional voice. Ancient songs of African descent: songs of love, songs of loss and songs of joy. Each song created a different mood, and every single song had an effect on the audience. Interestingly, it was also linked to the wider theme of the film, about belonging and understanding different cultures. Specifically, it can be seen to represent the Oud which was a key feature throughout the movie. This was the very core of culture, the music which spoke a thousand unspoken words. Music provides insight and a means of connecting with cultures as nothing else could.
Well, almost anything. I have not seen a more creative and absorbing film in a very long time. Limbo is definitely listed as one of my top 3 films of the Drama/Comedy genre, which is my personal favourite. A movie about a group of young adult refugees who, after making their way to the UK, were placed on a remote Scottish island whilst waiting for their asylum claims to be granted (or not). It follows these men trying to overcome all of the odds of their situation by sticking together, even in the most difficult of times. The detail and the emotion left tears in our eyes, both tears of sorrow and tears of laughter. Comedic scenes in which it felt offensive to laugh at, due to the satire, which was disguised as cultural insensitivity, and emotional scenes in which it felt offensive not to seem upset. The genius of the film was the high-level satire and irony, portraying life as an immigrant in the UK and how difficult it is, but portraying it in such a way that, at moments you cannot help but laugh. This movie delivered many messages, but the key theme for me was never to judge people because you do not know what they may have been through, and to always remain kind and welcoming, even when it is hardest.
This night summed up part of The GAP's philosophy and approach, in my experience - to always make people feel welcome, to admire each person's individuality and personal skills, and above all to always be empathetic to whoever you may come across.