Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | 1,122 day ago

If You Watch One Film This Week, Make It Leave To Remain

The Debrief: The film follows teenagers trying to seek asylum in the UK

What is this? Leave To Remain. A film about the realities of being a teenager seeking refugee status in Britain.

Sounds er, cheery. Oh it's bleak, but it's subject matter's important. The film opens by stating that although thousands of teenagers arrive alone in the UK every year. Only 1 in 10 are granted refugee status. It’s based on real-life stories and soundtracked by beautifully by Alt-J.

So who’s it about? Well there’s Omar, an older boy from Afghanistan who finds the elaborate case to stay in England that he’s building for himself thrown into question with the arrival of the supposedly 15-year-old Abdul (he’s probably more like 12) also from Afghanistan who knows a dark secret about Omar from his past.

OK who else? Then there’s Zizidi from Guinea who ran away to England after her husband by forced marriage sexually abused her along with his friends. She was married by the time she was 12.

Wow. But that’s not to say it's all doom and gloom! The teenagers trying to fit in with normal English teens does provide moments of comedy and hope throughout the film. Also, Toby Jones, who plays the groups’ English teacher is great as that teacher you had at school that you secretly really respected while making fun of him for making lame jokes. Watching him interact with the kids is a total pleasure.

So, is it worth seeing? Oh for sure. If only to see how terrifying it must be for someone so young with minimal English to arrive in this country. At one point Abdul is seeing his case worker who chucks him a list of solicitors and a map and tells him to go and find one; something that we’d no doubt struggle with despite a full grasp of the English language. Listening to the things the teenagers describe the things they witnessed in their own countries by such tender ages is enough to make you take a long hard look at your own life and be grateful for everything you have. You’ll struggle to catch the film in cinemas; there’s only a few screenings coming up at independent cinemas and schools over the next few months, but you can download or screen it only for just £4.99.

Leave To Remain is available online now.

Tags: Orange Wednesday, Film