The documentary “Moving to Mars”, screened on More 4 on Tuesday Feb 2nd, shows the relatively smooth and managed migration of two Burmese families as they are transferred from a refugee camp in Thailand to begin new lives in Sheffield.
This moving and sometimes humurous film charts their emotional preparations and departure followed by their struggle to adapt to life in chilly Sheffield. It is tough, but a stark contrast to the way most refugees travel and are treated in the UK.
At a special screening organised by City of Sanctuary in December, viewers agreed it presented a powerful illustration of the refugee situation. But these are the relatively lucky minority who have been selected by the United Nations Gateway programme to by-pass the in-country asylum system.
Viewers from organisations working with refugees felt the film should carry a ‘health warning’ – that it is quite different from the experience of most people seeking sanctuary in the UK. These often arrive after hazardous journeys, ignorant of their destination and not knowing what to do when they get here. They are not allowed to work while their claim is processed and live in fear of being detained and deported. Some end up living in destitution because their asylum claim is rejected and they are too afraid to return home.
You can read more about “Moving to Mars” here. The film is directed by Mat Whitecross and the producer is Karen Katz.