"My experience here has not only taught me filmmaking skills but has also made me more interested in the world around me. I’ve started to follow news and politics, and feel that I have a wider perspective on things in general."
Al-Kabir is Deputy Chair of our Alumni Network. At just 19, Al-Kabir is a born filmmaker, he has a real gift for cinematography and narrative storytelling and is a valued part of See Change Films.
We first met Al-Kabir when he attended one of our training courses in partnership with Families Forward of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea two years ago. Since then he has grown from a trainee filmmaker to a mentor and never fails training others in filmmaking and storytelling. In our interview Al-Kabir tells us about his journey to Britain as a refugee, the impact that film-training has had on his life and his future career aspirations.
Originally I am from Sudan. I came to the UK in 2012, when I was 17 years old. Before that, I had lived in Libya for a long time, but when the civil war started, I had to leave. First I went to Italy and was living on the streets – sometimes I slept in churches. Then I went to France for a few months but felt I just needed to keep moving, take a bus or a train anywhere.
I found myself in London, trying to find other Sudanese people, or anyone who would help me. Someone told me to go to the Home Office, so I did. They asked me a lot of questions, and finally took me to an elderly couple’s home. They taught me how to boil eggs. Since then I’ve been living with different families, and when I started feeling better they put me into a hostel. Now I share a flat with another guy.
I heard about the film-training opportunity when I was taking an extra English class. I didn’t have a chance to educate myself when I was growing up, so now I want to learn as much as possible. I went along to the training, it was great, and together with others we made documentaries about gangs and food.
My experience here has not only taught me filmmaking skills but has also made me more interested in the world around me. I’ve started to follow news and politics, and feel that I have a wider perspective on things in general. I think the film-training process forces people to change the way they think. You become more aware of what’s going around you and in the media, and you don’t want to be silent about it.
I’ve also gained a lot of confidence. I’m studying with people who were born here and are native English speakers. But some of them are very shy, whereas I now have the confidence to communicate with others and speak in front of people.
I wanted to come back as a mentor because I really like this project, but also because I want to improve my skills in filmmaking. I believe that when you learn something and then teach it to others, you don’t forget that skill. When I help others with camerawork, I become more confident about my own work as well.
I have several plans for the future. I’d want to get a job as a cameraman or a computer programmer – I am studying IT at college and think that learning about films and editing supports my studies really well. I feel very comfortable behind the camera.
If I were to become a professional filmmaker, I’d want to make a documentary about the poor education system, corruption and injustice in my home country. In Sudan, only rich people are respected; poor people are nothing. Since I came to UK, I’ve been researching the political situation in Sudan a lot, but I know that in order to make a good documentary, you have be very creative and come up with a truly original story.