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British director to bring film on child labour to Jordan

By Rand Dalgamouni - Oct 26,2015 - Last updated at Oct 27,2015

A still from short film ‘6 Cup Chai’ (Photo courtesy of Laila Khan)

AMMAN — The sight of children working on the streets of Mumbai spurred British filmmaker Laila Khan into action, and she decided to document the plight of these underage labourers for the world to see.

“Making ‘6 Cup Chai’ was purely a spontaneous decision, done on impulse,” she said of her award-winning narrative short, which will be screened at several venues in Jordan this week and in early November.

“I feel a child’s place is in the classroom or playground not on the streets and in a work station where they are forced to do any form of labour to help support their poor families,” Khan said in an e-mail to The Jordan Times.

Her film follows a boy who lives and works as a tea seller in Mumbai’s largest slum, Dharavi. His wish is to go to school like other children his age.

The seven-minute short was screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner 2014 and won a Venus de Badalona award for Best Values at the 40th FILMETS Badalona Film Festival in Spain.

The director, who has a BA in moving image from King’s College London, said it was difficult to shoot on location.

“It’s very hard to control the crowd when filming in a slum area but thankfully I had a great team... who ensured there were no figures in my frame except for the actors of course,” Khan said.

The inaugural screening, by invitation only, is hosted by the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) at Al Hussein Cultural Centre on Thursday at 7pm.

Two public screenings are also planned by GAM, according to the director, who added that the film will also be screened at the Children’s Museum Jordan on Saturday. The entrance fee is JD3.

In addition, screenings are planned at schools and the Zaatari Refugee Camp on Sunday and Monday, according to the director.

“I’m shooting my next film in Jordan so I thought I’d seize the opportunity to screen my film here... and the topic of my movie is relevant to issues closer to home,” Khan said.

“I’m screening the film at Zaatari camp because I want to reach a young audience and stress the importance of education not only in the refugee camp, but in the schools and universities around the city too,” the director added, noting that the short will be available on Royal Jordanian for four months from January 2016 after it had been available on British Airways and Lufthansa.

Voicing hope that its screening in Jordan would inspire change for the best, the filmmaker said the local and global reach of “6 Cup Chai” has exceeded her expectations.

 

“I think the reason... is, the very issues (such as labour, poverty and education) highlighted in the film are problematic in many parts of the world today so the subject is relevant. Also people will always support such films that provoke thought and inspire change.”

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