Among the sand dunes of Calais’ makeshift “Jungle” camp of migrants on the northern coast of France a large screen playing a Bollywood film offers a few hours of escape from the harsh realities of daily life.
The audience are some 1,000 occupants of the camp, where the French authorities say more than 3,000 people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia now live, with most trying to find a way to cross to England.
London-based Secret Cinema, which organizes immersive film events, set up a screening of romance “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” on Saturday at the camp as part of “a global screening protest” to raise awareness and funds for refugees.
At the same time, screenings of “Turtles Can Fly”, a film set in a refugee camp, were held in 20 countries under the banner #LoveRefugees.
“We felt a responsibility … to do something to show solidarity with the greatest movement of displaced people since the Second World War,” Secret Cinema founder Fabien Riggall told Reuters.
“We built a giant screen in a day … It was a really amazing experience for them because it was a break from their reality, the mundanity of every day in that camp.”
Video footage showed mostly men sitting on the ground in front of the inflatable screen.
“I think this film helped us forget our problems in this jungle,” one attendee said. “We are happy because we sing, we dance and we saw a long film.”
The Bollywood film, shown with Arabic subtitles, was preceded by a performance by British music artist Afrikan Boy.
Europe’s migration crisis has seen large numbers of migrants stuck in chaotic and squalid conditions on countries’ borders or walking along roads seeking a new home.
Riggall said he wanted to organize more screenings in Calais as well as see more cultural organizations involved.
“We want to make this the beginning of a campaign to bring cultural space to the worst affected regions in the world, most notably the worst refugee camps in the world,” he said.