From London to Belfast via Liverpool, from British expatriates to those who risk their lives to cross the Channel, l’Œil Urbain invites you to discover the United Kingdom of the 1980s to the dawn of Brexit. This photographic festival takes place in Corbeil-Essonnes and will run until May 19th! Our today edition is devoted to these exhibitions!
Calais is the last caravanserai, the last stop on the migration route before England. It may well change name or place, it does not disappear. The anonymous who find themselves there have only one thing in common: the desire to cross the English Channel.
In 2001, it was the hangar of Sangatte. I met Akbar and Dana while they were preparing their passage. Akbar had a crazy charm. A short, playful Iranian man, he played “Its a wonderful life” with his son Meissam. He told an extraordinary adventure in the form of life-size game to thwart this clandestine life. Dana smiled at them. She cared for Sunita, their second child, a 2-month-old infant she had given birth to on the way.
In Iran, Akbar ran an illegal video rental agency. Western movies did not please mullahs; he fled his native country. The story of Dana and Akbar is a love story crazier than those sold in his films.
Akbar stopped in Romania and met Dana, a computer science student at the University of Bucharest. He converted to Christianity to marry her and Meissam was born from their union. Akbar did not get his papers so the Iranian-Romanian couple began to dream of the English Eldorado. Six months later, they reached the last French caravanserai. They spent four months there and made dozens of attempts, Meissam and Sunita in their arms. One night, a smuggler hid them in a metal crate, under the chassis of a truck. Sunita remained silent, clinging to her mother. Five hours later, they had passed.
I found them in the suburbs of Birmingham in 2002, building a new life. Laughter was always their weapon. Until today, Akbar has worked hard to ensure that Sunita and Meissam have the best education possible. Dana studied law and became involved in aid associations for Romanians.
When I wanted to see them again this year, however, they refused to be photographed. Their dream was not shattered but hit reality. Now British citizens, they are integrated. Meissam is a medical secretary, Sunita will enter university and Dana will flourish in their new society. But Akbar is less comfortable in England; he is only accumulating odd jobs. The parental couple exploded. Akbar and Dana prefer to overcome this ordeal before I see them because they hope, always: “we will get better”.
Olivier Jobard – The English dream
Festival Photographique l’Œil Urbain
April 5 – May 19