Saturday, 30 April 2011

South Asian Whispers Review (film)

So, on Thursday, I went to see a film called South Asian Whispers with my sister, at the Cornerhouse (cinema) in Manchester. If you live in Manchester, or ever visit, Cornerhouse is the place to be- it has alternative as well as current films, a nice bookshop, and an art gallery, it is drenched in culture. Plus its seats are so much comfier than normal cinemas !

Anyway, South Asian whispers was made by Shisha Arts in connection with the Cornerhouse, as part of the Asia Triennial 2011, where it will be showing again later this year. It was directed by Mauro Camal and Richard Ramchurn, and produced by Lwimbo Kunda.

South Asian Whispers is a film that explores the migration of Asians into a part of Manchester called Cheetham Hill. It uses real archive footage that showed Asians in the sixties and seventies moving to Cheetham Hill. It also used music and poetry to explore issues such as identity. It is a collection of the "voices" of Asian residents, past and present, of Cheetham Hill. It also shows how the landscape of Cheetham Hil as changed considerably throughout the years.

Here are some parts of the poetry/spoken word I managed to scribble down (whilst in the dark of the cinema!) [therefore some may not be 100 % accurate] :

Making home feel like home
We are the children of immigrants
They came for a better life; for education, for benefits, or was it for escapism?
Conflicting definitions of identity
Conflicting definitions of what makes me me
Unaddressed differences
"I'm different from them, I can't do the things that they do."- young girl
 How did you feel when you got called Paki, didn't that upset you?
 "Part of me was upset, but part of me wasn't. They use it cos they want to hurt us, but they don't really know what it means, only we know what it means."- young girl
 They call me Paki. But Paki comes from the word Paak, and Paak means to be clean. So they're actually just calling me clean. Pakistan is the land of the clean.
 "When I came to England, I brought a blanket, 20 kg's of photos, memories; lots of memories of childhood, and a baby in my belly."

This was all heard over footage of Cheetham Hill, footage of a wedding in Pakistan, there was lots of footage of Asian babies and children in Cheetham Hill, which was very cute, and there was also footage of Manchester City Centre- then and now. The camera angles were very interesting, as was the actual footage, and the music complemented the footage, which is always important.

I enjoyed the discussion of the word "Paki", and the representation of racism and migration of South Asians into the UK, as it was really accurate. My Mother moved here with her family in the sixties, and much of what she tells me was reflected in this film, even though we're in another part of Manchester. Most of all, I love how it explored the issue of Asian heritage, it's always important to be in touch with your roots.

So, overall, I really enjoyed this film, the cinema theatre was really busy, and I liked that there was a mix of all ethnicities and backgrounds present. If this film comes on dvd, or is shown near you, it's a definite must see ! (It was shown for free at the Cornerhouse- yay)

Images taken from South Asian Whispers Facebook, and Cornerhouse website

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