Can Films Change Public Policy and the Law?

Starts 03 July 2017 - 18:00
Finishes 03 July 2017 - 20:00
Venue Room B34 Birkbeck, University of London, Malet St London WC1E 7HX
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Event description

Sue Clayton screens her new film Calais Children: a Case to Answer (62 min) and the campaign it is spearheading.

Chair: Laura Mulvey, Birkbeck, University of London

Free event open to all: Book Your Place

As the Calais “Jungle" refugee camp was set to be razed in October 2016, Sue Clayton, activist and distinguished award-winning documentary film-maker and others raced against time to find and list the many unaccompanied minors still present in the camp -  almost two thousand, they discovered, who, moreover,  might all along have had a legal claim to asylum in the UK.  Would the British  government accept them? And if not, what would become of them?

In Calais Children: a Case to Answer, Sue uniquely follows the young people over nearly a year.  She invites a team of human rights lawyers to assess their cases, and they in turn, appalled by the situation, bring a major legal challenge, supporting the children, to the UK government in the High Court.

Over the months since the kids left the Jungle, Sue has filmed and supported many of the young people, also interviewing politicians, campaigners and the lawyers who are fighting their case in courts.  At Birkbeck she will screen the film and talk about social activist film-making in the current political and cultural climate; the notion of the border; and issues around aspiration and self-hood in the young refugee community. 

You can read more about the film and the campaign at

Sue Clayton has been producing and directing films for over 20 years. Her debut 16mm feature film The Song of the Shirt on women in the garment trades was distributed globally, with MOMA in New York buying ten prints of it.   She made a number of award-winning documentaries for UK Channel 4 and Central Television including the Commodities series, Turning Japanese, How to Survive Lifestyle and Theme Park Britons.

She then went into fiction film writing and directing, making among others Heart Songs, The Last Crop and The Disappearance of Finbar starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and distributed by Buena Vista International.  All her films have won international awards including UK BAFTA, Madrid Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Midnight Sun Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Philadelphia World Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival and many others. Her films have been screened globally on television networks.

In the last 5 years she has worked on the issue of child refugees and recently made another award-winning film Hamedullah: The Road Home. Since then, while making the new film Calais Children: A Case to Answer, she has been six times on ITV national news, and been quoted regularly in the Guardian and Independent newspapers.