In celebration of Refugee Week, BAFTA and Counterpoints Arts today announce a public screening of Syrian documentary filmmaker and activist Hassan Akkad’s short film Matar on Friday 23 June at 19:00. The screening will be followed by a lecture from Akkad on his experiences fleeing his country in 2015 and working in the UK film and TV industry. His short Matar, released this year, co-written and directed by Akkad, follows the story of a Syrian asylum seeker in England, forced to live on the fringes of society, and is released by WaterBear and produced by Deadbeat Film.
Hassan Akkad is an award-winning filmmaker and creative director at refugee advocacy organisation Choose Love. He is co-director of Netflix’s Convergence: Courage in a Crisis (2021) and the associate producer of Netflix film The Swimmers (2022). Hassan was part of the team that made Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (2016) which won a BAFTA for Best Factual Series in 2017. The BBC documentary included footage of Akkad three-month journey from Syria to the UK as a refugee in 2015.
This event marks the beginning of a collaboration between BAFTA and Counterpoints Arts. It will be the first in a series of public events exploring the importance of authentic storytelling of refugees onscreen, and the positive impact of collaboration with creatives who have lived experience of migration, in order to build narrative power and create social change.
Hassan Akkad said: “I am incredibly excited to share my journey, from being a contributor in a documentary that captured my own journey from Syria to England, to now taking the helm as a director and navigating the intricate world of filmmaking. It has been an extraordinary path of self-discovery and growth, and I am grateful to BAFTA for offering me a platform to bring my perspective to the forefront. I hope my lecture will help redefine the narrative landscape, especially in stories about migration and displacement, paving the way for a more inclusive and empowering industry that honours the agency and dignity of all individuals.”
Mariayah Kaderbhai, Head of Programmes at BAFTA said: “We’re so pleased to be collaborating with Counterpoints Arts for the first time on a new event series examining the representation of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers on-screen in the UK, including a screening and lecture with Hassan Akkad, who will share invaluable insights from his life experience as a refugee, activist and filmmaker. Authentic representation and the subsequent understanding of these communities begins with agency in the storytelling space from conception to on screen portrayal – we look forward to delving further into this subject with the public and BAFTA members over the next few months.”
Tickets to the screening and lecture will be available for purchase here from Friday 2 June at 10am.
Additional events will include ‘Introduction to Filmmaking’ workshops with Deadbeat Film, aiming to give asylum seekers, refugees and migrants the opportunity to enter the film Industry and tell their stories with integrity and authenticity. More info to be announced soon.
For further information:
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BAFTA – the British Academy of Film and Television Arts - is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For more, visit www.bafta.org. BAFTA is a registered charity (no. 216726).
About Counterpoints Arts
Counterpoints is a leading national organization in the field of arts, migration, and cultural change. Using arts-centered and collaborative approaches, we strive to promote and normalize diverse representations of displacement and migration in both public and digital spheres. We are a registered charity based in London, working nationally and internationally. To find out more about our mission, values and impact visit: www.counterpointsarts.org.uk
About Deadbeat Film
Deadbeat Film is a multi award-winning London-based production company working in drama, documentary, commercial, live and music video work. Their recent film Matar, directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Hassan Akkad was based on the life and experiences of Ayman Alhussein. Ayman, beyond the film, has worked with Deadbeat Impact (DBI) to formulate their 2023 Impact program. The new Impact focused department in Deadbeat is headed up by Activist and Filmmaker Mabel Evans. The department are launching ‘Introduction to Filmmaking’ educational sessions beyond the film's release in partnership with Counterpoints Arts and BAFTA. These sessions aim to give asylum seekers, refugees and migrants the opportunity Ayman himself had to enter the film Industry and tell his story with integrity and authenticity. Beyond these educational sessions the team will facilitate work placements for participants as well as offering Impact Consultancy on productions for the Wider Sector. Deadbeat Impact are delighted to be offering these sessions as part of BAFTA’s push for a more inclusive and diverse Industry.