Migration Pulse

London Migration Film Festival - challenging the haters

Can film challenge the hateful rhetoric that simplistically reduces migrants to enemies or victims? The organisers of the London Migration Film Festival (LMFF) think so. Here they tell the story of how they pulled off organising the very first LMFF.
December 7, 2016
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Saliha Majeed, Lily Parrott and Laura Stahnke

Saliha Majeed, Lily Parrott and Laura Stahnke are members of the Migration Collective, a small group of passionate young women with an academic interest in, and personal experiences of, migration. They organised the London Migration Film Festival 2016.

The first London Migration Film Festival (LMFF) was born. LMFF took place over a long weekend in November this year at two fantastic venues in Deptford: Deptford Cinema and Buster Mantis.


Eight feature length films focussing on migration were screened as part of the festival, along with seven shorts. Between films there were two panel discussions with academics, artists, practitioners and former immigration detainees. The discussions explored the themes of ‘diaspora and integration’ and ‘borders in everyday lives’.

What’s more, the festival included live world music from: Kokoroko, Djanan Turan, Lili Caseley, Vocal Global, and Alvorada, as well as DJs from Dance for Refuge, DJ BlondeZilla and Sheeb. Finally, there was a workshop on Afghan kite-making and a networking brunch, offering a platform for dialogue.






LMFF was organised by Migration Collective (MC), a small group of passionate young women with an academic interest in, and personal experiences of, migration. MC aims to challenge the current narrow rhetoric on migration through exploring the intersection of arts, academia and action.

The goal of LMFF is to portray the diversity, nuance and subjective experience of migration - including and beyond the refugee experience - in order to restore its inherent dignity and humanity. We hope to challenge the rhetoric reducing migrants to simplistic categories: enemies or victims.

Films tackled:

  • asylum
  • mixed-motivation and labour migration
  • nomadism
  • diaspora and integration
  • South-South movement



A few films explored the relationships between race, gender, class and migration. We intentionally chose films focusing on diverse parts of the world and migratory routes, in order to challenge the expectation that most people move from the global South to the global North. In order to raise the profile and voices of migrant film-makers, a number of films shown were directed, produced by, and starred, migrants. For example, Pawo, a film telling the story of a Tibetan refugee in India, was directed and acted in by Tibetans exiles.


By screening films from widely diverse backgrounds we attracted film-goers with diverse interests, including students, artists, academics, film-enthusiasts, as well as just curious locals. We intentionally held screenings at affordable venues and kept ticket prices low to be economically-inclusive.


To diversify audiences and increase access further we offered five free tickets to destitute refugees, asylum seekers or vulnerable migrants at each screening. Next year we hope to broaden the spectrum by including films produced by other film industries, such as ‘Bollywood’ and ‘Nollywood’!

Money raised through the festival supported Akwaaba, a small charity providing weekend drop-in and advice services to refugees and migrants in Hackney, London.

To follow Migration Collective and keep up to date with our work, please like us on facebook and bookmark our upcoming website.