2018 Global Migration Film Festival Round-up

Bindu Isaac, IOM Integration Team Leader, introduces Global Migration Film Festival in London. Photo: IOM 2018 

Syrian refugee and IOM UK staffer Ahmad Al Rashid shared his thoughts about Australian director Mark Grentell’s film "The Merger", following Saturday’s Global Migration Film Festival event at London’s iconic Somerset House.

Geneva – Abuja, Ankara, Baghdad and London are some of the locations where Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) screenings have already been held across the world. The 2018 edition of the Film Festival began on 28 November and will run until 18 December – International Migrants Day – in over 100 countries.

Launched in 2016, the GMFF celebrates the connection between cinema and migration. Professional and emerging filmmakers are invited to submit films about the migrant experience according to the established theme. Most of the chosen films reflect the complexity of migration between dreams and realities, social pressure and search for freedom.

Find GMFF updates below:

From a Foreign Land to an Adopted Home: Sport and Integration Headline London Film Event

London – Fear and stubborn prejudices lent tension to a life-affirming story on the themes of football and migrant integration at a film event hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at London’s iconic Somerset House over the weekend (01/12). The film was screened as part of IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival and in partnership with the London Migration Film Festival.

Marking the run up to International Migrant’s Day (18/12), the event featured a screening of Australian director Mark Grentell’s film The Merger, an emotional rollercoaster ride featuring a team of local and refugee footballers as they struggle to band together and rescue their team from the brink.

“One of the best ways to overcome prejudice is to actively build understanding. When we speak about integration, this means building a better understanding between the host community, migrants and refugees,” said Dipti Pardeshi, IOM Chief of Mission for the United Kingdom. “Shared interests – like sport, music and art – are wonderful catalysts to bring people together. They cross cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and are activities that we all can participate in and enjoy.”

Pardeshi explained that confronting tough subjects in open discussion is an important way to reduce tensions and foster closer ties within diverse communities. In that spirit, IOM organized a panel discussion led by Mark Doidge (University of Brighton) which included panellists Ahmad Al Rashid (Syrian refugee and IOM UK staff), Kevin Coleman (The Football Association) and Shaista Aziz (The Diversity Football League and Oxford City Council) who shared their own experiences and stories of how sports bring people together.

“The word integration has become very loaded. It has to be a two-way street where everybody genuinely listens to each other,” said Shaista Aziz, Oxford City Councillor. “We connect through stories, and they don’t have to be incredible stories. Refugees and migrants should be allowed to be as mediocre as the average person. They shouldn’t have to do incredible tasks to be welcomed into a country.”

Ahmad Al Rashid, from Aleppo, explained that football helped him to feel a sense of belonging as he settled into a new community.

“Life in the UK [is] very different from Syria. I spoke English so at least I didn’t have that barrier, but it was the little things that were isolating. I joined a team with people from all over the world, including from England,” he said. “It was through sport that the UK gradually went from being a foreign land to being my adopted home.”

As part of its work on integration, IOM, in partnership with England’s Football Association (FA) has undertaken initiatives such as bringing refugees and migrants to watch the England National Football Team play at Wembley Stadium. The partnership has provided an exciting experience for people forced to flee their home as refugees and has helped to foster a sense of belonging for both migrants and refugees as they cheer alongside British nationals. IOM also supports integration through the arts, including the annual “Singing Our Lives” concert that was held in June to mark Refugee Week.

WATCH IOM Reporter: Syrian refugee and IOM UK staffer Ahmad Al Rashid

For further information, please contact Abby Dwommoh at IOM UK, Tel: +44 (0)7873301193, Email:

Global Migration Film Festival Kicks off Across Turkey

Ankara – December 18th will mark International Migrants Day, first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 to recognize the scale of the global migration phenomenon. Celebrated internationally, it provides an opportunity to acknowledge the positive contributions of migrants and their fundamental role in sustainable development.

IOM Turkey will mark the occasion through a Global Migration Film Festival with 10 events across seven cities during 12-18 December. The festival will kick off on 12th December at Gaziantep Municipal Auditorium with a public screening of A Walk on the Tight Rope.

A documentary by German producers Sandra Budesheim and Sabine Zimmer, it tells the complex story of four asylum seekers navigating the asylum application process in Germany.

On 14th December in Ankara, IOM will host a photo exhibition, film screening and panel discussion at the French Institute. Films from around the world will be screened followed by an interactive panel featuring Fariba Nawa, journalist and author of Opium Nation; Abdi Deeq, Somali migrant and artist; Tayfun Sargin of the Turkish Coast Guard; and Ege Yigit of IOM Izmir.

Film screenings will continue at the French Institute on Saturday, 15th December in the afternoon and evening, and are open to the public. Download the schedule here.

The photo exhibit, curated by IOM photographers in line with this year’s theme for International Migrants Day – Migration with Dignity – will be on display and open to the public during 15-18 December at the French Institute.

It illustrates the challenges migrants face and celebrates their contributions to host communities in Turkey, reaffirming migration as a driving force for progress and development. The exhibit tells the story of how migrants and refugees – whether on the move or living locally, from Sanliurfa to Izmir – find peace and a stable life.

Events throughout south-eastern Turkey will take place in Sanliurfa, Iskenderun, Adana, and Gaziantep in partnership with local municipal community centres, the Turkish Red Crescent and Kirkayak Cultural Center. A full schedule of events is available here.

“Films have the power to show different facets of life and help audiences cultivate deeper empathy for migrants. Our events will aim to create a better understanding of migrants’ realities, needs, perspectives and capacities,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Turkey.

For more information, please contact Lanna Walsh at IOM Turkey, Tel: +90 533 698 7285, Email:

Thailand Welcomes Third Global Migration Film Festival

Bangkok –  The Third Global Migration Film Festival will open in Bangkok on Friday 14th December ahead of International Migrants Day on 18th December. The three-day event marks IOM´s third year of screening documentaries, features and short films that explore the themes of migration and human mobility in Thailand.

Supported by local partners Save the Children Thailand, the Embassy of Canada, IOM X and the Bangkok Screening Room, the Festival will feature seven award-winning films that capture the promises and challenges of migration, and the unique contributions that migrants make to their new communities.  

Three critically acclaimed international films – A Thousand Girls Like Me, Fremde Tochter (Strange Daughter) and The Merger – will premiere in Thailand for the first time.

A Thousand Girls Like Me follows the story of 23-year-old Kathera from Kabul, a victim of sexual abuse, who battles against cultural, family and legal pressures in Afghanistan in her attempt to seek justice.

German feature Fremde Tochter (Strange Daughter) tells the tale of a young couple destined to be together, but stuck between traditions, religion, contradictions and prejudices.

Australian comedy The Merger showcases one man’s attempt to revive a struggling local football team with the help of refugees.

The Bangkok premiere of the long-awaited 2018 Danish documentary Heartbound will also take place at the Festival. The documentary follows the lives of four Thai-Danish couples over ten years in an intimate chronicle that explores universal questions of love and romance, dreams and everyday hardship, life and death, and the nature of family.

Following its screening on 16 December at 14.00, a 30-minute question and answer session with film director Sine Plambech will take place.

Also to be screened are Academy Award nominee Monsieur Lazhar, short film The Other Side of Dooman River and LGBT documentary Sidney & Friends.

The diverse film line up aims to provide a variety of perspectives and celebrate cultural diversity. The overall goal of the Festival is to open audiences to a broader discussion about migration.

“The Global Migration Film Festival is IOM’s premiere event in engaging the Thai public on migration issues,” said Dana Graber Ladek, IOM Thailand Chief of Mission. “Challenging negative stereotypes and promoting a positive narrative of migration in extremely important in this day and age where anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise globally.”

The Festival will run from 14-16 December at the Bangkok Screening Room. Admission is free. Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis on the day of each film’s screening.

For further information please contact Reuben Lim at IOM Thailand. Email:, Tel: +66 2 343 9370.

IOM Iraq and Partners to Hold 11 GMFF Events

Iraq – The Global Migration Film Festival in Iraq opened on 28 November with a showing of The Merger and Abu Adnan, in the auditorium of the UN compound in Baghdad, in partnership with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). The festival will continue with 10 additional events, hosted by partners including the University of Basra and the University of Mosul.

Films will be screened for displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees in selected camps, and for returnee and displaced Iraqis at the Community Resource Centres (CRCs) in both East and West Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city that was only fully retaken from ISIL in July 2017. 

This is the third year in a row that Iraq is participating in the GMFF.

For more information, please contact Sandra Black at IOM Iraq, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: