Malka Celebration Sun 4th March: fundraising for Norwich Refugees

February 09, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

A short film called Malka, dedicated to refugee children (2017, dir: Stefan Freedman) is continuing to raise valuable funds to help refugees in East Anglia and far beyond. Following its screening at two very successful fundraising events in Ipswich and Diss last year, Malka will be the focus of a third event at Harford Community Centre in Norwich on Sunday 4th March 2018 (2.00 pm - 5.00 pm). All proceeds will go to New Routes, a vibrant local charity working to settle and integrate refugees in Norwich.

The event will feature a double screening of Malka (with and without subtitles), followed by a concert of live music by The Fire Doves, an exhibition of the artwork featured in the film and live speed-art by Lois Cordelia, a reading of two poems by an Egyptian Norwich resident, a varied buffet of finger-foods and cake, and an opportunity to take part in a number of traditional circle folk dances with live accompaniment by zesty band Zaramo. Zaramo includes Norwich-based singer Sebastiana Black, whose haunting vocals bring the little girl Malka's journey to life in the film. The afternoon will also feature an introductory talk by New Routes.

Date: Sunday 4th March 2018
Times: 14.00 - 17.00.
Venue: Harford Community Centre, Hall Road, Norwich NR4 6ET
Tickets: £10 for an adult or £5 for a student. Refugees and Asylum-seekers are welcome for a nominal £1. Advance tickets can be purchased from Kate O'Rourke [email protected] or 01603 662842. Tickets can also be purchased on the door if places are still available.


At its official launch in Ipswich in April 2017, the Malka film raised more than £1000 for Suffolk Refugee Support. Malka is a short non-profit film that aims to reach out to the public and promote empathy and understanding of refugees, seen through the eyes of a child. A second fundraiser event at the Angel Cafe in Diss in July 2017 raised more than £600 in addition for the Hoxne based charity Next Stop Symi which takes vital supplies to trapped refugees on the Greek island of Symi and elsewhere. During Autumn 2017, the film was selected for screening as part of three international film festivals, including  the Symi International Film Festival in Greece, Woodengate Film Festival in Maramures County, Romania, and the Documentaries Without Borders Festival in Delaware, USA.

Below: The visuals for the Malka film were created as mixed media illustrations by Lois Cordelia, including a blend of acrylic paintings, brushpen, paper-cutting and drawing, layered digitally.


Above: Musicians including Sebastiana Black and Stefan Freedman performing a live concert during the Ipswich Malka fundraiser in April 2017.

The music for Malka features the distinctive voice of Norwich-based Czech singer Sebastiana Black, accompanied by a haunting mix of sounds created by various ancient musical instruments including the sackbut, shawm, bass viol and bowed psaltery. Musicians Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush and Andy Mapplebeck are all Ipswich-based.

Below: Czech singer Sebastiana Black (lead vocals)

Below: Left to right: Andy Mapplebeck, Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush, Lois Cordelia, January 2017. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above: Left to right: Andy Mapplebeck, Stefan Freedman. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above: Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above: Stefan Freedman. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above:  Left to right: Andy Mapplebeck, Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush, Lois Cordelia, January 2017. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.



(dedicated to refugee children)

Storm winds whistle in the sky
Birds cry, flying helter-skelter
Malka, walk a little more
Though your feet are sore
While there is still some light to guide us
Sorrel soothes our tired feet
Lovage we can eat
Look out for somewhere they won't find us

"When will we be going home?"
Malka, our future is unknown
Each day we'll be moving on
Till the danger's gone
We're following a road to freedom
Sing once more your favourite song
Keep your spirit strong
Hold all your dreams until you need them

"When can I play with my friends?"
Malka, so many paths were taken
Strangers, unfamiliar words
Like migrating birds
That vanish over moonlit mountains
Some day in another land
We'll dance hand in hand
We'll wash our feet in sparkling fountains

Storm winds whistle in the sky
Birds cry, flying helter-skelter
Malka, walk a little more
Though your feet are sore
Tomorrow we'll have better weather
Soon we'll stop and build a fire
Burning with desire
That one day there'll be peace forever

© Stefan Freedman

Ipswich-based artist Lois Cordelia began creating the artwork for Malka in May 2016. Over the following 6 months, she assembled a series of more than 60 visuals, inspired by Stefan's lyrics. Lois's mixed media illustrations combine painting, drawing, paper-cutting, brushpen, photography and digital effects, layered together to heighten the emotional intensity of each image.

One of the challenges that Lois faced was how to convey both the traumas and the aspirations of the young girl, Malka, in ways that touched people's emotions without being unbearably painful to watch. The film hints at the trials and hardships that Malka and her mother endure, but also plants seeds of hope for a brighter future.

Lois wanted her pictures to have a universal appeal, hence her depictions of Malka embrace various ages and different nationalities. She also emphasises the value of using creative activities as therapy for refugee children, suggesting how the young girl could express her memories of trauma through her own paintings. Remembering how to paint as a child was an important part of Lois's journey following in the footsteps of Malka.

Above: "Circle of Dance, Music and Art" paper-cut artwork by Lois Cordelia

Ipswich artist Lois Cordelia will perform a live speed-painting demonstration as part of the Sunday 4th March event in Norwich, painting along with the live music, to evoke the spirit of the film. Much of the artwork that Lois created for the Malka film will also be on display. A silent art auction running throughout the afternoon will raise additional funds for New Routes, as will the sale of Lois's greetings cards featuring the above "Circle of Dance, Music and Art" paper-cut artwork design. Two silent auctions of Lois' paintings for Malka have so far raised more than £500 for refugee support charities.

Below: Lois Cordelia performs live speed-art during the Ipswich Malka fundraiser in April 2017.

"Malka" is a short film (less than 5 minutes's duration) dedicated to refugee children everywhere, evoking the journey of a young girl refugee, Malka, and her mother across wilderness and hardship in search of safety. The film features haunting acoustic music and lyrics by Stefan Freedman, accompanied by atmospheric mixed media illustrations by Lois Cordelia. The film in its entirety can be viewed here. Public sharing of the film is encouraged.

Responses to Malka

The film has already been circulated widely on the Internet and social media, inspiring a wealth of heartfelt and emotional responses, such as the following:


"Fascinating, astounding, haunting, very beautiful. An amazing venture for a great cause. A phrase that springs to mind: 'a modern Gesamtkunstwerk' of real beauty."

"I love this video. Through it I have felt the plight of refugees in a way that no amount of other media coverage could have done. Well done to all who have been involved in making it."

Malka director Stefan Freedman remarks: "The feedback from many people is passionate, nuanced and strongly affirming. My brother's (face-to-face) was the most surprising of all to me. He said that of all the creative projects over the years this one had gone furthest. Emotionally powerful and professionally impressive."


The development and future of Malka

Stefan Freedman was travelling on a train a few years ago when the idea for Malka first came to him. The music that began to flow together in his mind was originally inspired by a traditional Bulgarian folk tune. Stefan shaped his own lyrics to fit the music, evoking the words of a refugee mother to her young daughter, Malka, seeking to reassure her in the midst of unfamiliarity and confusion.

In Stefan's words:

"MALKA is the name of a seven year old girl. She is fleeing from extreme danger, looking for refuge. The inner world she inhabits - feelings, images, fears and hopes - is as real and viscerally present as the external one. She and her mother are the focus of a short (four and a half minutes) animation in which Malka represents refugee children everywhere.

"Her name means 'little one' in Bulgarian, and in both Arabic and Hebrew means 'queen'. The name came to me spontaneously while I wrote the song and only afterward I discovered the meanings.

"Today with an unprecedented number of displaced people seeking refuge, the media is full of stories about 'the refugee crisis'. This fuels fear and protest. Nations are putting pressure on other nations to take more refugees while negotiating to reduce their own intake. 

"So the popular perception is one of grave uncertainty and risk, of facing a human tsunami. A 'refugee problem'. We become defensive and completely lose sight of the individual adult or child - unwillingly caught up in events they would never have chosen. The aim of this short film is to enchant viewers and evoke a feeling of understanding and empathy. The viewer is given glimpses not only of Malka's nightmarish memories, but of dreams and hopes that sustain her through hardship.

"My hope is that the film will open up the question that perhaps knowing or supporting even one person or family seeking refuge will be a rewarding experience. The short film has been used as a focal point for successful refugee fundraisers in collaboration with Suffolk Refugee Support."

(- Stefan Freedman, February 2018)

Stefan is a teacher of traditional, sacred and circle dance, travelling worldwide to lead workshops and other events incorporating live music and displays. His dances use evocative music from all continents.


Thank You
Stefan and Lois wish to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in making all the fundraiser events a success, including all musicians and support, everyone who attended and bought tickets for the events, helped out with catering, promotion, press, radio and media coverage, ticket sales and facilities, sold copies of Malka on DVD, gave talks, assisted with transport and set-up, and everyone who bid in the silent auction. Special thanks go to Joanna Carrick for agreeing to co-host the launch event at Red Rose Chain, and to Madeline Lees and the Angel Cafe, Diss.



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