Angie Pedley works for the Craven Refugee Support Group and hosted the Q&A that followed Hostile’s screening in Settle, North Yorkshire. After the event on Tuesday 17th January, she wrote Galeforce Films this moving response.

By Angie Pedley

On a very cold January evening, with icy roads in rural areas, 30 people came out to Settle Victoria Hall to see the film Hostile. An independently made film by Sonita Gale that was longlisted for a BAFTA for an outstanding debut by a British writer, Director or Producer, Hostile covers the effects of the pandemic on the most vulnerable in our society in the UK, coupled with recent legislation against refugees. 

Some of the history of immigration to the UK & the reasons for it were raised, particularly the partition of India in 1948 which affected Sonita’s mother. Filmed in Manchester & London there are several stories woven together which raise any number of questions. The reasons why people leave their homes were touched upon. No-one chooses to leave but often war comes & displacement happens.

Immediate audience reactions were of shock and extreme sadness as the impact of a hostile environment were displayed to us in all their horror. The film used personal experiences to highlight the difficulties of offering support. Two of these were the group who had been feeding a lot of people left destitute & who then faced problems in finding new premises, and the man who had had to apply many times for residency after living, working & paying his taxes here for many years. People fearing for their families & the effect on their mental health because of the constant threat of deportation, were also issues raised. 

The impacts of NRPF were addressed – No Recourse to Public Funds – which is a cruel method of withdrawing all access to benefits for refugees deemed to be here illegally, & which results in homelessness and destitution. Another fact not widely discussed is that of the enormous costs involved, thousands of pounds, when people have to apply, appeal & reapply for the right to remain here. 

It is safe to say that the audience were very moved by this powerful film. In the discussion afterwards people were asking “what can we do?” The film was shown by a refugee support group in a small market town in North Yorkshire, population 2,600, so we do already have a local organisation which is active in many ways, both practically and by raising awareness of the issues. By showing this film we brought in people who we did not already know. This helps to grow the numbers of people who know about what is happening in our country and who will begin to do their bit to help and support refugees. 

Sonita was able to join us on Zoom for a discussion afterwards where she explained some of her experiences, both growing up & while making the film, and which led to the powerful effect of Hostile. People appreciated being able to hear the maker of the film speaking about it & to ask her questions.