In the Spring of 2017, Somewhere Films spent a month filming a promo for a privately funded migrant school in Lesvos, Greece. We met refugees from around the world, but one stood out to us; he was referred to us by others simply as ‘the man without a translator’. He had been detained on Lesvos there for 1.5 years because he couldn’t get proper legal representation without a translator, of which there were none. He called himself a Rohingya, a name that had seldom been heard at that point.
Now, our biggest project yet is underway. Local Alien is a documentary feature on the recent global reaction to the refugee crisis: sending people back. We need your help with our latest chapter of production. In brief:
The recent ethnic purges against the Rohingya in Myanmar and their subsequent escape into bordering Bangladesh has made headlines, creating the largest refugee camp in the world in a matter of months. Now, Bangladesh is sending refugees back to the country that burned their homes, killed their families and actively denies their citizenship. The repatriation deal struck with Myanmar does not guarantee the killing will stop.
We could not find this repatriation plan confirmed anywhere in the media at large until six days before it was set to begin. Neither nation consulted the Rohingya themselves.
The plan is due to go into effect imminently, and there is now no access to interviewees due to security concerns.
Over a period of 9 days, Somewhere Films shot:
- 15 interviews
- 530 minutes of speaking time
We need your (tax-deductible) donations to enable translation and allow their voices to be heard. We plan to create a short doc on this deadly and under-reported crisis, and send it to media outlets. After that, we will incorporate the footage into Local Alien.
The Rohingya were relatively unknown in international news until just last summer. The BBC reports that since then, when Myanmar’s military began its violence against them, the sprawling camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh became the largest in the world, housing over 900,000 Rohingya fleeing violence in Rakhine State.
Despite new refugees arriving daily, the two governments intend to send the Rohingya back within a 2 year timeframe. They will not be going back to their homes, which have largely been burnt down, but instead to languish indefinitely in camps built by the Myanmar military. There they will stay, until they can prove their previous residency in Myanmar, a feat made nearly impossible because most of their possessions were incinerated by that same military.
Why we need your help
We conducted the interviews with the help of our local interpreter but they now need to be properly translated, transcribed and subtitled.
Skilled translators of the Rohingya language are in desperately short supply. The 900k people in these camps are all ‘the man without a translator.’ This is no accident. Their ethnic group has been denied citizenship in Myanmar, and thus public education, for decades, depriving them of English learning opportunities. During the recent pogroms against the Rohingya, those with an advanced education were the first to disappear.
We are now working with together with translators from Rohingya Khabor and Mohammed Siddique Basu of the Rohingya Language Foundation. The rate for translation ranges from $3 per minute to is 5 GBP (~$7) per minute, which means we need to raise at least $1590 to cover expenses. Much of Local Alien is self funded, but for time-sensitive and urgent expenses such as this, we need your help to finish post production.
You can donate a tax deductible lump sum through Fractured Atlas, our fiscal sponsor.
The Perks of Patronage
The first objective of Local Alien is to give an audience sustained time with characters who they will want to welcome across their borders and into their lives. The second objective is to help give them an education about the humanitarian crisis of our time.
Our investors are our first audience, and therefore are our priority. As we educate ourselves, we want to bring you along.
In addition to credit on our website and any published material, we will email you a monthly update on the work we’re doing and detail how your contribution has made an impact. You will have access to in-depth write ups on the history, economics and policies surrounding the areas we explore, as well as early access to the material we put together. If desired, we will also create a newsletter just for you, tailoring it to your personal interests.
We want to invite you into the creative process, give you the opportunity to ask questions, and to show your investment in action.
Any donation is appreciated, and will help make this project happen. We are truly grateful for the support of our friends and our community. We are happy to answer questions and can be reached by email on our "Get in Touch" page.
The UNHCR strongly condemns the current repatriation deal and upholds that conditions guaranteeing Rohingya safety in Myanmar have not been met. To donate to UNHCR visit: