The Choose Love pop-up in Soho launches on 17 March, which sees the charity join forces with WaterBear. The opening of the space on Berwick Street, called The Lab, coincides with the launch of the refugee short film Matar and promises visitors a chance to enjoy performances, film screenings and photography, all designed to showcase the perspectives and narratives from people seeking asylum in the UK.
To mark the release of the short docu-fiction film Matar, which launches on WaterBear on 17 March, a new Choose Love pop-up opens in Soho at the weekend. The charity has teamed up with the streaming platform (the first ever dedicated to the future of the planet) to open The Lab, on Berwick Street, to raise awareness of asylum seeker experiences in the UK.
Visitors to the Soho space, which is open from 17 to 19 March, will be able to enjoy the very first screenings of Matar. Directed by BAFTA-winner and activist Hassan Akkad, created by the team behind the biographical refugee drama The Swimmers and produced by Deadbeat Studios, it explores and highlights the challenges of navigating the UK’s broken asylum system and the discrimination that people who are trying to rebuild their lives face today. Based on the experiences of Ayman Alhussein, a Syrian refugee and cinematographer, the film follows the journey of fictional protagonist Matar as he’s “forced, through no fault of his own, to deal with the UK’s degrading and unfair immigration system”.
It’s apt that Choose Love should mark the release of Matar with a pop-up – the humanitarian organisation has raised millions to provide support for displaced and vulnerable communities since it was founded in 2015, in part through its series of successful pop-up stores.
Alongside the film screening, visitors to Choose Love pop-up The Lab can enjoy a weekend of live podcast recordings; performances by the likes of bilingual rapper MoYah, spoken word artist Sukina Moor, multidisciplinary artist Dylema, and poet and playwright Zia Ahmed; a photography exhibition and more. They will also be able to purchase items from the Choose Love shop, including real items and life-saving interventions to make sure people in need are getting what they need most. These could be anything from cold weather essentials (blankets and sleeping bags, heating fuel, waterproof tents), most-needed items (hot food, women’s support and care for unaccompanied children, mental health care) to life-changing interventions (sea rescue, evacuations, clean water, reuniting a family).
There’ll also be the opportunity for anyone who visits the pop-up to oppose the ‘refugee ban bill’ with Choose Love by accessing pre-written letters that can be signed and sent to their local MPs, instantly. “The challenges posed by current policies continue to put an immense strain on asylum seekers’ lives, with some living on just £5.84 a day as they wait multiple years for their asylum claim to be processed,” says Choose Love. “Matar and the lift the ban campaign seeks to catalyse change and rally the government to lift the ban on employment.”
98 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0QB
Friday 17 & Saturday 18 March, 10 to 7pm; Sunday 19 March, 12 to 6pm