Recognising Independent Cinema: A Conversation With Kyla Simone Bruce For UNDOCUMENT Ahead of Release TODAY! | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Recognising Independent Cinema: A Conversation With Kyla Simone Bruce For UNDOCUMENT Ahead of Release TODAY!

31 January 2020

UNDOCUMENT is an episodic feature, following four stories of longing & love, immigration & identity. The vision of an Iranian and a European director, dealing with the complex theme of illegal immigration, or ‘undocumented migrants.’ Each story is set at a different stage of the migrants’ journey, in three different countries: Iran, Greece and England.

Featuring a cast of unknown and trained actors, telling four stories to challenge our notion of a migrant’s journeys to a better life, UNDOCUMENT has won widespread acclaim on the festival circuit.

In our interview, The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali had the pleasure of speaking to Kyla ahead of the release of UNDOCUMENT, Kyla tells us about why she set the film uo the way she and Amin did, what she's hoping audiences will take away from the film and the importance of recognising Independent Cinema...



Congratulations on the film. What was the initial impetus for the film, for you to actually put it together?

So basically I co-directed it with Amin Bakshian whose an Iranian Director and we went to film school together, which is where we met, and when we started making films together it was actually at a time when, sort of, the immigration crisis wasn’t such a big deal in the media, like people didn’t really know about it. So he told me a lot a lot of stories, you know, second hand from people he knew quite closely and stories that they kind of went through, and I was like just really shocked by it all and thought we need to make a film about it to create awareness.

But over the time that we made it, obviously, the political landscape really changed and now it’s such a big subject that everyone has a viewpoint on and very polarised and it’s really huge in the forefront of people’s hearts and minds.

So it’s been interesting to see how it’s now reconnecting in a different way since we finished the film, and it was really like a big learning process for me basically which is why I wanted to do it, to educate myself more about it, that’s how it all started.


Okay. And obviously you’ve got a background in short films, so this is technically your feature film debut. Was setting it as these four stories, did you feel your background in short films helped with that approach?

Yeah I think so, and I think it was also important to us because it’s such a complex issue and it was really important that, because it’s a lot of true stories that we selected, I wanted to reflect the complexity of it. So it’s supposed to kind of pick up on certain kinds of aspects, but it can’t sort of all be summarised into one film or one story line, which is why the four stories are kind of disconnected and that’s way.

But yeah definitely I think a background in shorts probably helped us to come up with that as a concept, and also to be able to collaborate with Amin because I don’t think it would have worked with both kind of directed in , you know, both kind of directed it in the same room, I’m not sure how that would have worked, but we basically split it up and he directed the parts that are set in Iran and I directed the parts that are set here. So it was kind of important to have that collaboration that is two different experiences, you know, a Middle Eastern experience and a European experience kind of collaborating together so that it’s not one kind of singular viewpoint, so that also made sense to have it in episodes.


Absolutely. It is quite a hard hitting subject matter and, obviously as you said, quite widespread in the media at the moment. was there anything that you learnt, before going into this, from your research into this to make the film? Was there anything that you picked up on that you hadn't known before?

Yeah there was load. So basically it was really important to me was that it was authentic and truthful, because if you’re going to criticise a system or something, it was important to me that it was factual and, even though it’s very dramatic, it’s all based on truth. So I spent a long time doing a lot of research because I didn’t want to be this white European woman kind of assuming I know what is happening.

So I spent three months in an immigration court in London, just sitting in and watching cases basically of people trying to get bailed from detention centres and basically working on getting refugee status. And yeah I’d learnt so much from watching first hand those people stories unfold, there’s just like a lot of shocking stuff, families being separated, you know, people having to sit in court and having your fate decided when there aren’t the resources to have an interpreter that day or they might need to leave half way through a case, and these people deciding your fate and you can’t even communicate properly.

Or like the technology that they use because they can’t afford to bring people from the detention centres into the court room, they do it all via video link, so it’s literally like a face on a screen and everybody in the room is trying to figure out what can be done and sometimes there would be technical issues and the link would just cut out and you might have been waiting for that to be heard for months, and then there might be some technical hiccup and then they can’t see you again for another few months and you’re literally living in a detention centre.

So it was really eye opening for me, there’s so much stuff, I tried to get into the detention centres, but that was near impossible. But the research I did was really shocking, the way people are treated in those places is really as though they’re criminals, but obviously everyone is an individual and you get good and bad people, but it doesn’t make you a criminal because you’ve got the wrong paperwork or you’re in the wrong place doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person. But, yeah really just treated really awfully and really high suicide rate. I spoke to one man who had been in a detention centre for five years and he said it was worse than prison because you don’t have a release date, so at least if you committed a crime and you’ve gone to prison you know how long a sentence is, but it’s this kind of unknowing of even when you’re going to be released or not has had a massive impact on your mental health.

And just finding out things like that those detention centres are run by private companies that are making a profit, so they're actually corporations making money out of detaining people which I found really shocking.

But yeah I think the main thing is just how complex it all is, you know, it’s always the question of “why are people leaving their countries?” do we really not see there is war and all these different things, how much money people pay to make the journey and I think that they think it’s going to be a very different journey than what it actually is, you know, people always ask “why would you put yourself through that?” and I think there is a lot of... I don’t think people are signing up for it and knowing that they’re going to go through such a horrific journey. So yeah, it’s such a complex thing, I was learning a lot all the time from hearing these stories.





Undocument Film Page | Kyla Simone Bruce Official Website


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