In a refugee camp in Samos, Greece, a group of musicians from Africa and the Middle East meet up to make music. There is no stopping their sessions despite having to contend with fires, earthquakes, and worst of all… the bewildering asylum process. Samos on Fire, a short-documentary directed by Fareid Atta, follows these refugees and shows us that in a world that often seems divided and fractured, music has the power to bring us together, to remind us of our shared humanity, and to create a sense of belonging and connection that transcends borders and boundaries.
As part of the celebrations of Refugee Week, Samos on Fire will be one of the films closing proceedings in Athens in June 25th, but on route will be shown in Cardiff on the 22nd at Ffotogallery (tickets available here).
The short follows four individuals from diverse countries and cultures who are forced to live together under difficult circumstances. The cinema verité style juxtaposes footage showing the chaotic and dire conditions of the Vathy camp, with the joy of singing, musical instruments, and dance.
With the UK Asylum Bill recently passed through the House of Commons, changing the conversation about refugees has never been more important.
To refuse asylum seekers access to the UK asylum system would not only deny their safety and protection, but would also miss a golden opportunity for the UK to help those who desperately need it. These talented individuals could offer a huge amount to our civic life.
In terms of the number of asylum applications per head of population, the UK ranks 22nd highest in Europe. The UK should be leading the way in the number of asylum seekers it welcomes. Samos on Fire: Songs in Asylum shows above all that we all share a common humanity, no matter where we were born, however, it is with this that we also share a responsibility for each other.
Yorro, the drummer from the documentary who currently lives in Athens said: “Music is very important because it’s a meditation. So, it’s a sort of healing too. I say meditation fulfills you well. Some people know this, and some don’t. So, when you play it, you can sense it, think it, and then you feel something in you. Something is touching you – it’s very important.”
Asked whether the church in the refugee camp in Samos would be the same place without music, Bille, church pastor in Samos said: “No. It can’t. Music has a magical quality, and we can’t do without that music.”