How does film raise awareness about migration and refugees? - Humanity House


31 Jan

Bubble Breaker

How does film raise awareness about migration and refugees?

Films and documentaries are often about subjects that speak to the social consciousness of its audience. These are stories taken from real life that stimulate the audience to look outside of their own bubble. Migrant cinema also does this. Which role can this genre play in raising awareness about migration and refugees? This will be discussed during the first edition of Bubble Breaker.

The program starts with a screening of the short movie Gifts from Babylon. Christoper Tijan Smith plays a illegal migrant that returns to The Gambia. After the movie was shot, Smith sadly enough became a illegal migrant himself. He will tell his story and the role he plays in the movie. Director Bas Ackermann will tell about his motifs for making this movie.

After the film screening, the creative director of Movies that Matter Margje de Jong and film teacher Dr. Emiel Martens will join the discussion. The conversation will turn to migrant cinema as a genre. What exactly defines migrant cinema? What does it try to accomplish? How do films these contribute to the public debate and are they seen as ‘Bubble Breakers?’

Gifts from Babylon

This short movie is about illegal immigration from Africa to Europe. It explores the traumatic impact that African-EU migration has on the migrants and the community it leaves behind. The story is told from the perspective of a Gambian migrant that returns to his homeland. After five years of illegally living in Europe, coming home evokes a reaction from his environment. Gifts from Babylon has been shown at 40 film festivals worldwide, where it received 8 awards, including the Award for Best Fiction Film at the Hague Film Awards 2019.

About the speakers

  • Bas Ackermann is a filmmaker from The Hague. He is the writer and director of the internationally acclaimed documentary Welcome to the Smiling Coast (2016). The idea for this documentary started in 2007 when Bas among others, set up State of Mic. State of Mic is a multimedia studio that educates Gambian youngsters in video and music production. Nowadays it is the most prominent media production house in The Gambia. Bas sees Gifts from Babylon as a logical follow-up in his path as a human rights and social impact filmmaker.
  • Christopher Tijan Smith is the lead actor of Gifts from Babylon, in which he plays a illegal migrant. He was also involved with State of Mic. Life seems to have imitated art as Christopher has become a asylum seeker himself. He currently lives in an asylum seekers’ centre in Assen.
  • Margje De Koning directed several documentaries. For 15 years she has worked for IKON and EO as Head of Documentaries, among other things. Since September 2019 she is the artistic director of the film festival Movies that Matter.
  • Dr. Emiel Martens is a film lecturer, researcher and producer. He is the founding director of Caribbean Creativity, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, programming and distributing Caribbean and other diversity cinema in the Netherlands. He is also the co-owner of the film production company Gasten in je Gezicht. He has worked on various film as story editor and producer, including Gifts from Babylon.
  • Frederiek Biemans is Head of Programming and Exhibitions at Humanity House. She will moderate the panel discussion.


  • 19:30
  • 20:00
  • 21:45