By Demi Amber
Every Wednesday at around 16:15 the café at Oasis Refugee Centre is filled with the smell of freshly popped popcorn, there’s children passing around oranges and huge slices of watermelon and parents and guardians having a natter over hot beverages. It’s cinema day!
THE BACK STORY
Welcome Cinema Kids was founded in Calais at ‘The Jungle’ refugee camp, where a resident from the local community would arrive twice a week with a pocket projector and show a kids film. The popularity of these film screenings showed the power that cinema has to normalize situations and bring comfort and inclusion to audiences even in the most trying of times. This is the same vibe we aim to recreate every Wednesday at Oasis, with the cinema welcoming people from the refugee, asylum-seeking and local communities.
We are now halfway through the film, the popcorn supplies are nearly exhausted and the children are either engrossed in the film, busy colouring in their entry to the weekly colouring competition or squabbling over who gets to hand around the first tray of pizza, fresh out of the oven.
Each week the winner of the weekly colouring competition chooses a film from our own extensive DVD library to be shown the following week. The films are mainly animations, which include lots of songs and slapstick humour. WCK film favourites include Aladdin, Paddington Bear, Howl’s Moving Castle and of course Frozen. We mainly play animations that include lots of songs, as we find they are more accessible to audience members who aren’t fluent English speakers.
As the film finishes there’s plenty of goodbyes, thank-yous, popcorn parcels and reassurances that we’ll be back the following week, same time, same place, as the main thing that makes the cinema special is the consistency we strive to provide.
WCK is a not-for-profit charity which continues with the help of public donations, if you would like to donate to our wonderful charity you can head to our Justgiving page here.