A SOUTH Tyneside film-maker is set to see her work screened at the Houses of Parliament.
I Am Nasrine is a tale of immigration and identity, depicting the daily struggle of young asylum seekers in the UK.
We spoke to director Tina Gharavi about the upcoming screening.
The coming-of-age drama tracks the lives of two Iranian teenagers who are forced to flee their homeland and start a new life in the UK.
The film, produced by North East company Bridge and Tunnel Productions, which has a base in South Shields, deals with the issues that face immigrants every day.
And now it’s set to be screened for MPs, campaigners, and specially invited guests at the Houses of Parliament, on May 22.
The screening is hoped to raise awareness of the issues that asylum seekers face.
Director Tina Gharavi said: “I never dreamed that the film would go as far as to be screened a the Houses of Parliament but it’s amazing.
“There is a lot of prejudice surrounding asylum seekers, and I think what some people don’t realise is that they don’t want to be here – none of them actually want to leave their countries.
“It’s a scary thing to leave behind your family and everyone you know to go somewhere where you don’t speak the language and don’t know anything about the culture.
“There are lots of circumstance that lead to people having to come here from other countries.”
She added: “Our goal with I Am Nasrine is to show how and why young refugees and asylum seekers end up living in places like Tyneside and to highlight the challenges they face in growing up in a new and very different country.
“Hopefully, screening this film will lead to a law change that allows asylum seekers to work while their claim is processed – and it will raise awareness of how the current situation discriminates against asylum seekers and forces them into the black economy, giving them a second trauma.”
The film was shot on a budget of just £100,000 in 2009, with filming split between locations around the North East, including South Shields, and covert filming in Iran.
Ms Gharavi and her team worked under the guise of shooting a different film, more palatable to the Iranian censors, assisted by a group of Iranian film-makers who risked their lives to bring the story of the situation in Iran to the rest of the world.
The raw footage was later smuggled out of Iran by Ms Gharavi for editing alongside the English material.
She said: “When the film was screened in Berwick, there was a couple of 60-year-old white men who came up to me afterwards and said the film made them cry.
“That was the biggest compliment I could ever be given. There are lots of people in this country who have never met an asylum seeker, and what this film does is gives people the opportunity to see it from their point of view.
The next step for Bridge and Tunnel productions is to secure wider distribution for the work, which Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley described as “an important and much-needed film”.
I Am Nasrine will be screened at the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday, May 22.
Further dates in London and around the UK are to be announced soon.
For more information about the film, visit its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/IAmNasrine. To watch the trailer, go to www.tinyurl.com/iamnasrine.