No one uprooted by war can unsee the horrors they have witnessed.
That is the powerful message of “Uprooted”, a new short film released today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June.
Featuring a cast and crew of more than 50 refugees from Ukraine now living in Germany, the film is an expression of solidarity with refugees around the world for what they have had to endure.
The film opens in nighttime Berlin: a door slamming in the wind; an ambulance driving down the street with its sirens blaring; fireworks filling the sky with flashes and explosions.
In response, Ukrainian refugees cower in fear or run for their lives, their terrifying memories of conflict triggered by these seemingly unremarkable events. The action closes with a dramatic scene in an empty Berlin square, where refugees form the shape of a tree firmly rooted to the earth by the embrace of dozens of people.
“To survive the memories of war, refugees need the support and embrace of us all,” the closing title reads.
All of the actors that appear in the film are refugees from Ukraine. Olya, who appears in the first few seconds, was at home drinking tea with her mother in Ukraine when she saw a missile strike the house opposite.
“My mum told me I had to leave Ukraine straight away. Now, whenever I hear loud noises, I get scared. I just picture that bomb. That’s why I played this role in the film, because it’s actually what happens to me every day in my life,” Olya said. “We made this film to support refugees all over the world experiencing the same trauma.
Adding to the authenticity and the actors’ connection to the film, each wore an item of clothing they were wearing when they fled their country.
“This meant that they wouldn’t need to act, but just feel that moment that really happened to them,” explained Margarita, a clothes stylist and Ukrainian refugee in the film.
“Uprooted” was Directed by Stink Films’ Andzej Gavriss who wrote the concept with Ukrainian Choreographer, Konstantin Koval and Don’t Panic London’s Creative Partner, Rick Dodds. It will be shown in select cinema theatres throughout the UK.