Actor Lena Headey, better known for her role in the popular series “Game of Thrones”, is starring in one of the first movies to address the refugee crisis. She has criticized the “horrendous and dehumanizing” way refugees are treated in the UK.
The first feature film on the crisis:
In the new movie “The Flood” Headey plays a British immigration officer called Wendy who controls the fate of Haile, an Eritrean refugee. The film traces Haile’s journey from her war-torn African country all the way to the camp in Calais and finally arriving to England.
Headey said that her belief that a change in attitude is needed after she read the script of the film which is based of real stories of people working in the Home Office.
She said: “I understand there are safety issues, and screenings for security, but it could be so much more human and compassionate. It’s horrendous that after the journeys that these refugees go through, they are then treated immediately with suspicion and fear.
“I get it, this is a crisis with so many levels, but we have also lost sight of the fact it’s not a ‘problem’, it’s people, it’s other human beings. And we’re dehumanizing them.”
Very few feature films discussing the issue of hundreds of thousands refugees fleeing the Middle East and Africa have been produced, although several documentaries covered the issue and received high critical acclaim.
The movie, which was written by Helen Kingston, was inspired by an infamous incident where 35 Afghanistan immigrants were discovered in 2014 inside a shipping container at Tilbury Docks, some of them passed away.
Headey said: “The power of film to change people’s minds is a real thing. “I, Daniel Blake was a really good example of this, it woke people up – it woke me up – to the injustice of something that is happening now, right under our noses. This film is about the horrors of what is happening every day to the refugees coming to Europe, and how appalling and frightening it is to sit by while it goes on.”
“I hope it will provoke similar kinds of conversations. It’s amazing how quickly it seems to have died down even though it’s as a bad as it ever was,” she added
Her trip to Greece:
Last year, Headey visited Greece and met some of the refugees who took the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. She said that she was surprised by how their main message was that “we are not terrorists”, but there was also discontent due to their living conditions.
She added: “If we don’t have a shift where we recognise these people for who they were before they were forced to leave their countries – people who are educated with family values, who had careers and homes – then we are going to be in trouble, we really are. We are going to grow an absolute fury, you could feel it.”
Headey recognizes that being a celebrity and talking about the refugee crisis sometimes creates backlash. She said: “People look at actors who speak out and say ‘oh well, it’s so easy for them’. There are a lot of people who are saying ‘it’s all right for you, you champagne socialist’ but that’s fucking bollocks, I’m just a human being with a conscience.
But she added. “My kids need to know that I gave a shit – that’s what drives me most. I’m a jobbing actor, this is what I do to make cash, but sometimes I do projects where I make no cash because it’s about making something that will hopefully get people talking.”