When Stefan Freedman and Lois Cordelia began collaborating in 2016 on a short film about a young girl refugee called Malka, they had no idea that she would go on to travel from Ipswich all over East Anglia and then all over the globe, touching people's hearts wherever she went: the Ipswich-based film collaboration is continuing its journey around the globe, having been selected for screening at fifteen international film festivals to date.
(Stefan and Lois are currently collaborating on an uplifting new film project behind the scenes - watch this space!)
Dedicated to refugee children everywhere, 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. To date, it has been selected for screening as part of nine international film festivals in Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Asia, and been the subject of several successful fundraising events for refugee support charities.
At its official launch at Red Rose Chain in Ipswich in April 2017, the Malka film raised more than £1000 for Suffolk Refugee Support. It has gone on to raise similar amounts at further fundraiser events in Diss and Norwich, for the Hoxne based charity Next Stop Symi which takes vital supplies to trapped refugees on the Greek island of Symi and elsewhere, and the Norwich Refugee support charity New Routes, a vibrant local charity working to settle and integrate refugees.
Since Autumn 2017, the film has been selected for screening as part of the following fifteen international film festivals and events:
Feedback Film Festival (best of Under 5 Minute Film Festival), Toronto, Canada (April 2019)
Political Edge Film Festival (CEFF MKE), Milwaukee, USA (Feb 2019)
International Shorts Film Festival (3-7 December, 2018), Melbourne, Australia (Dec 2018)
WSTL Film Festival (WRPN.TV Short, Tight and Loose), Delaware, USA (Nov 2018)
MikroFAF - International festival of DIY and indie short film, Belgrade, Serbia (October 2018)
Awareness Film Festival (Heal One World), California, USA (Sep - Oct 2018)
7th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival, India.
19th Annual Woodstock Museum Film Festival, New York, USA
Near Nazareth Festival (NNF), Nazareth, Israel
Subud World Congress 2018 ('Poems For Peace') in Freiburg, Germany
Films for World Peace film festival, Washington DC (2018)
London Rolling Film Festival, London UK (May 2018)
Documentaries Without Borders Festival in Delaware, USA (2017)
Woodengate Film Festival in Maramures County, Romania (2017)
Symi International Film Festival, Greece (2017)
Malka evokes 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.
Her journey continues.
Responses to Malka
The film has 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."
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:
"When Adrian [Lush] first urged me to record 'Malka' it was simply because he felt it was an exceptional song. We liked the idea of putting it on YouTube to share with friends. Once Lois started producing artwork, so captivating and emotive, I realised that the narrative needed exactly the right voice with an equal power. So delighted that my first choice vocalist, Sebastiana, was willing to come from Norwich to record with us.
"Malka seems to have a life of her own! ... The Malka video has the potential to serve in three ways. It touches people and creates empathy (even people like my brother who generally is not sympathetic with the refugee cause!). The artwork and music contain nuances, symbolism and many layers which provide an excellent stimulus for discussion. And as we've discovered and proven it can be the focus around which effective fundraising can be arranged." (- Stefan Freedman, May 2017)
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.
Stefan and Lois wish to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped Malka along her journey, including all musicians, sound engineering and support, everyone who attended fundraising events and helped out with catering, promotion, press, radio and media coverage, ticket sales and facilities, those who have sold copies of Malka on DVD to help raise additional funds for refugee support, those who gave talks as representatives of the refugee support charities, those who assisted with transport and set-up, and everyone who bid in the silent auctions.
Special thanks go to Joanna Carrick of Red Rose Chain for hosting Malka's Ipswich launch in April 2017, Madeline Lees of the Angel Cafe in Diss, and Harford Community Centre in Norwich. Stefan and Lois are also extremely grateful to all of the judging panels who have selected Malka for screening as part of international film festivals around the globe and have thereby brought her message to touch the hearts of many more.
The music for Malka features the distinctive voice of Czech singer Sebastiana Black (based in Norwich), 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.
Below: Circle Dancing, led by Stefan Freedman
Below: Zaramo in concert: Birgitta Campbell fiddle, Sebastiana Black vocals, John Firmin accordion, Kim Redshaw djembe. Norwich, March 2018.
Below: Zaramo in concert, with Stefan Freedman
Below: Lois Cordelia (Malka visual artist), with some of the artwork for the film, and two fresh paintings completed during the Norwich fundraiser.
Below: The mother and child painting chosen by the winner of the silent art auction.
Below: More live acoustic music by Salman Toheed of the Blasian band
Below: Zaramo in concert: Birgitta Campbell fiddle, John Firmin accordion, Kim Redshaw djembe, Sebastiana Black vocals. Norwich, March 2018.
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