Set to screen at TIFF’s Next Wave series next month, is director Bruce Goodison’s drama “Leave to Remain,” which is described as a provocative coming of age drama about young people cut loose from society because they live in the UK as asylum seekers.
In the UK, when an asylum seeker seeks leave to stay in the UK, its called “leave to remain,” hence the title of the film; further, this can be anything from a day to 3 years, and comes with restrictions on being able to work and getting an education.
In the film, 3 teenagers forced to leave everything behind, learn to live alone in a hostile environment, fighting to survive, as they form a unique and unbreakable bond. The film’s aim is to show that, despite typically fleeing dangerous situations, young unaccompanied asylum seekers have the same fears, hopes and dreams as any teenager, regardless of history.
A project that reportedly took over 3 years to make, director Goodison is said to have spent years working with young asylum seekers, and was granted access to interviews and court appeals as well as public officials (defenders, social workers, doctors, and more); the completed film is based on Goodison’s research, and while it’s definitely scripted fiction, it has a documentary-like, realistic quality to it.
The filmmakers assembled a cast of non-professional actors who are from the refugee community, as well as up-and-comers, running film workshops and providing training for these teenagers who would be on-screen stars.
Meet some of the young men and women (mostly of African and Middle Eastern descent) from the film’s cast below: the 3 principles, played by Yasmin Mwanza, Massieh Zarrien, and Noof Ousellam, with Tango Mwanza, Gloire Mbote, and Tressy Nzau rounding out the cast.
First, the trailer follows: