Moving Worlds is a film programme from Counterpoints Arts and Highlight Arts. 

Watch out for the Moving Worlds’ special programme for Refugee Week 2018,  which is coming soon.

In 2017, we curated an exciting range of features and shorts from the UK, Syria, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Mali for Refugee Week. Many of these screen stories explore experiences of forced displacement of individuals and families across borders, allowing diverse audiences to follow migration stories and personal narratives of loss, resilience, community engagement, solidarity and hope.

We invited you to screen any of these films in unusual places making your own makeshift ‘cinemas’ – from your kitchen, local park, community centre, to schools and workplaces (see Locations and our “How To” screening manual). We also designed downloadable resources and post-screening guides to encourage lively conversations across all ages.

Our thanks to the creative and passionate filmmakers and producers who generously agreed to make their films available for Refugee Week 2017, Moving Worlds package.

Here’s how you can access the films:

  • Our partners have kindly offered their films for a special bargain rate of £50 screening fee for features and £20 for shorts;
  • You can watch short screeners and trailers for each film entry, to give you a taste of these stories and how they might work in your locations and with potential audiences;
  • In order to obtain a copy of your chosen film, visit the feature and short film pages and find the specific contact details of the filmmakers and producers/distributors. Please cite ‘Moving Worlds, special Refugee Week’ package in your email to them. Once you’ve chosen a film (or more), check out the post-screening resources to help navigate the public conversations.


Moving Worlds first ran in Dublin, Ireland (2008) as a collaboration between the Forum on Migration and Communications (FOMACS) and with support from the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC): Alliance Française, British Council, Goethe-Institut Ireland, Instituto Cervantes Dublin and the Austrian Embassy Dublin, in association with the Irish Film Institute.


These short films explore a range of storylines allowing you to pick and choose and shape your film package, with themes like history and memory, family, exile, creativity and the power of the imagination.

Dead End

2015, 8.36 minutes

Libya’s political chaos makes its territory a land of opportunity for human smugglers. Thousands of illegal migrants end up forgotten, in one of the 19 detention centres.


2015, 15 minutes

ELLIS awakens our collective memory, taking you back to the early years of Ellis Island through the experience of one immigrant. Set in the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex and using JR’s UNFRAMED art installations, ELLIS tells the forgotten story of the immigrants who built America. It is the story of the ghosts of our countries past, the individuals who fled poverty, discrimination, and dictatorships, for a chance at a new life and eerily foreshadows the plight of those who currently seek the same opportunities and safety in this country and other parts of the world.


2016, 20 minutes

Home depicts the breakdown and rebuilding of trust and love amid the horrors of war and migration. We witness the realities and trauma of being refugees, since within the family roles of leadership and bravery are passed from one parent to another.

Karelian Cowgirls

2008, 10.20 minutes

In 1939, at the start of the bitterly cold Winter War the Soviet Red Army invaded Finnish-Karelia forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians deep into Finland. With men at the war front and women looking after the small children, the responsibility of driving the family cattle through deep snow and hostile lands was forced upon the oldest girls. A lifetime later, Annikki, Inkeri and Hilkka look back on their adventures on a journey that coincided with their journey to adulthood – and the effect the war had on their lives.

One Precious Thing

2015, 5 minutes

Murad fled from Syria in 2012 because of the war that befell his city, Ras al-Ain. He was forced to leave his studies of civil engineering and take refuge in the city of Mardin, which lies on the Turkish-Syrian border. He saw nothing in front of him but a land full of ears of wheat. He became a simple farmer, leaving behind his dreams of engineering and his hopes of a decent life in his hometown.

The Architect

2015, 4.55 minutes

A beautiful short film, The Architect, invites us into the life of a young boy living in the city of Aleppo in Syria, witnessing the effect of war on his home-town. He rebuilds his city as a modern place, where he wishes to live and maps his dream for the future.

Twinning Towns

2015, 3.24 minutes

Born in Basra, living in Warrington, Hussein Ahmed is on a mission: can he persuade the people and council of his local town to twin themselves with the war torn city of his birth?


1927, 1 minute, UK

This poignant newsreel item captures the panic on the streets of Shanghai as Chinese citizens seek protection from Communist and Kuomintang violence behind Allied barricades. Within days of its release Chiang Kai-shek would declare martial law in the city and his Kuomintang would initiate the Shanghai Massacre, a brutal purge of Communists, including mass arrests and executions.


1915, 1 minute, UK

Having suffered endless bombardment by Austrian warplanes during WWI, many Serbians fled to the safety of British bases, where the Red Cross were on hand to provide aid to the many casualties. One third of the total pre-war Serbian population were on the move in 1915. Frontline newsreel images such as this captured and promoted the valuable work undertaken by charitable organisations.


1914, 1 minute, UK

Belgium suffered a refugee crisis when German forces invaded in August 1914, as troops and civilians fleeing Antwerp and other occupied towns poured into West Flanders. This newsreel item, shot in the coastal city of Ostend, captures something of the chaos as soldiers, civilians, horses, wagons and weaponry flood in, alongside hundreds of refugees hoping to board boats for England.


From the transformative potential of music and theatre, to the precariousness of  ‘home’ and the contradictions of immigration law, these features offer you a rich range of storylines.

At Home in the World

2015, 58 minutes

At Home in the World is an intimate depiction of the everyday lives of five refugee children on a Danish Red Cross asylum school.

In the schoolyard, Magomed quietly watches from the sidelines as his classmates fight over the soccer ball. The shy, pensive boy is no different in the classroom, where he studies Danish with full concentration. The 10-year-old Chechnyan refugee and his fellow classmates at the Red Cross school in the Danish town of Lynge are hoping to get a residence permit.

On the Bride’s Side

2014, 98 minutes

A Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden – and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers – by faking a wedding. With a Palestinian friend dressed up as the bride and a dozen or so Italian and Syrian friends as wedding guests, they cross halfway over Europe on a four-day journey of three thousand kilometres.

Queens of Syria

2014, 70 minutes, Arabic with English subtitles

Queens of Syria tells the story of fifty women from Syria, all forced into exile in Jordan, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the Trojan Women, the timeless Ancient Greek tragedy about the plight of women in war. What followed was an extraordinary moment of cross-cultural contact across millennia, in which women born in 20th century Syria found a blazingly vivid mirror of their own experiences in the stories of a queen, princesses and ordinary women like them, uprooted, enslaved, and bereaved by the Trojan War.

Special Flight

2011, 100 minutes

Special Flight is a dramatic account of the plight of undocumented foreigners at the Frambois detention centre in Geneva, Switzerland, and of the wardens who struggle to reconcile humane values with the harsh realities of a strict deportation system. The 25 Frambois inmates featured are among the thousands of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants imprisoned without charge or trial and facing deportation to their native countries, where they fear repression or even death. The film, made in Switzerland, is a heart-wrenching exposé of the contradictions between the country’s compassionate social policies and the intractability of its immigration laws.

They Will Have to Kill Us First

2015, 99 minutes

Music is the beating heart of Malian culture. But when Islamic hardliners took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law in history and, crucially for Mali, they banned all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned and Mali’s musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, Mali’s revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile where most remain even now. But rather than lay down their instruments, the musicians are fighting back, standing up for their cultural heritage and identity. Through everything, they have used music as their weapon against the on-going violence that has left Mali ravaged.


We believe in the power of film to open up opportunities for dialogue and community reflection. We’ve designed post-screening discussion guides for all films, to be used as a starting point for conversations inspired by our Moving Worlds programme:













For this special Refugee Week, Moving Worlds package, we have designed a “How To” screening manual that invites you to arrange screenings in unusual places. No matter how small or unorthodox, its worth bringing people into local spaces to watch films together. For more ideas you can access our Screening Guide special edition.