In the 21st century the themes of poverty and displacement are being told, once again1 in the stories of migration. Uprooted African people are obliged to undertake hazardous journeys across Africa, to the countries of Europe. Modern day tragedies have emerged from these forced movements which are as compelling as those from the days of slavery. Journeys across the Mediterranean and Atlantic in humble vessels can provide an avenue of escape from desperate poverty, but also lead to grim outcomes in the seas around the Italian island of Lampedusa that have been recently featured in European news stories. ‘La Pirogue’ (The Boat), a film made by the Senegalese director Moussa Touré, gives us a hint of the ways in which African tragedy continues to be laid before the conscience of the world in the form of a powerful work of cultural story-telling. When the theatre lights come back on after the 85 minutes of its showing, you know that you have been required to witness not just the anguish of individual lives, but the frustrated hopes of the people of an entire continent. The charity screening of ‘La Pirogue’ at the Riverside Theatre, Hammersmith, on 17 November, presented by Migrant Rights Network and PORTLAND GREEN™, will be followed by a discussion led by a distinguished panel of African affairs, migration and film experts. What has story-telling using the power of contemporary African film making got to tell us about the plight of its people today, and will today’s movements of forced migrants produce a stirring of the imagination and conscience that produced so many of the profound changes of the 20th century? The film, which has been guest-curated for the event by film collective, A Nos Amours, tells the story of a group of African men who leave Senegal in a pirogue captained by a local fisherman to undertake the treacherous crossing of the Atlantic to Spain where they believe better lives and prospects are waiting for them. Following the screening, art historian and BBC and Channel 4 presenter, Dr Gus Casely-Hayford will chair a panel which discusses the issues the film raises and the role of film in the migration debate. Panelists include Hsiao-Hung Pai, Dr Hein de Haas and guest, film curators, A Nos Amours. Tickets cost £15, £12:50 (concs). The event, benefits the ongoing work of the presenters in migrant rights and film. There is a parallel crowd-fundraising fund at Just Giving. The event launches 'Our Day 2013', a month-long series of events organised by UK migrants' rights groups culminating on 18 December, the United Nationals official International Migrants Day.
The Pirogue (La Pirogue)