The Backway

A young economic migrant (Momodou) returns to the home country that he was illegally smuggled out of 2 years ago, following his deportation from the U.K. Battling with feelings of shame and acceptance, Momodou must come to terms with the stark reality of the sacrifice his family made in risking everything they had to fund his journey and the consequences of his return home.

£4,275.00
raised of £20,000.00 goal
8 Days left
28 Backers
Genre
Drama
Scope
Short
Seeking funding for
Completion
Campaign type
Flexible Funding
Support project
    Project

    The Backway

    Genre
    Drama
    Seeking funding for
    Completion
    Scope
    Short
    Campaign type
    Flexible Funding

    STORY

    The Backway tells the story of a young economic migrant, Mo (Momodou) who, against his wishes, is forced by his father to take the illegal migration route out of the Gambia (colloquially referred to as the ‘Backway’) to the U.K. in the hope that this will improve his, and more importantly, his family’s life back home.

    The 15min short focuses on how Mo must come to terms with the impact that his deportation from the UK and subsequent arrival back in The Gambia, after 2 years, will now have on himself and his family, who risked everything they had in the hope that this would prove to be a worthwhile investment.

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    I first came up with the idea for The Backway whilst performing in the West End Production of The Jungle, directed by the award-winning duo, Stephen Daldry (The Crown, Billy Elliot and The Inheritance) and Justin Martin (Prima Facie, The Inheritance and Stranger Things). The Jungle provided an insight into the lives and experiences of 15 refugees during their time in what was previously known as 'The Jungle' camp in Calais, as well as the volunteers who arrived to help.

    In addition to performing in The Jungle and over the past 15 years, I have gained a deeper understanding of the plight and stories of many refugees and migrants through my professional experience of previously managing the operations of one the largest Human Rights Barristers Chambers in the UK, Doughty Street Chambers. This was mainly through the work that many of the Immigration practitioners were involved in and from my experience of assisting on several immigration cases as a Legal Researcher during my time there. Similarly, my previous role as the COO of one of the largest and most well-known international refugee charities in the world, Choose Love, provided me with first-hand experience and accounts of the lives of many displaced refugees and migrants, particularly after having spent time in refugee camps in Calais, Greece and Izmir Turkey.

    There is an assumption amongst many refugees and migrants that their arrival in Europe will be met with open arms and kindness, leaving many unaware of the hostile environment and insurmountable hurdles awaiting them upon their arrival in many European countries. This not only causes feelings of exclusion and isolation for many refugees and migrants in foreign countries, but also adds to the constant stress and pressures many of them face to support their families back home, which is one of the topics this film attempts to address.

    My hope is that The Backway will shine a light on the often forgotten and unspoken stories of those migrants and refugees that do make it to Europe but end up being deported back to their home countries. I also hope to explore the impact this has on the families back home, and how themes/topics such as shame, forgiveness and toxic masculinity often impact how many respond when the gamble does not pay off.

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    The Backway was filmed entirely on location in the Gambia, specifically in the Brusibi region, as well as Bakau Beach. Much of the film was made using local cast and crew members in the Gambia, including the film’s First AD, First AC, Associate Producer, Make Up Artist, Sound Assistant, Gaffer and Musician.

     

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    The Backway applies a completely different take on the usual narrative concerning migrants and refugees where, rather than focusing on the journey that such individuals face in attempting to reach their destination country and the challenges they are faced with upon arrival, The Backway instead focuses on what many are faced with upon their return back home, following deportation.

    The issue of migration in the Gambia, as it stands, continues to be of major concern and commonly floods the national conversation as hundreds of Gambia’s most potent workforce continue to risk their lives in the high seas. The repeated deaths of several youths have made this matter require more urgent attention as the following recent statistics highlights: 

    • On 14th October 2023, 57 youths were all confirmed to have perished in a boat that left the shores of Gambia and capsized off the coast of Mauritania as they tried to reach Spain;
    • Migrant Watch Association (MRWA) has claimed that it recorded the names of 95 Gambian Migrants who died in different countries in 2022 through the 'Backway' journey to Europe. It also reported 900 Gambians who were deported to the Gambia in 2022 and 599 who entered Europe through the backway;
    • On 8th November 2021, about 200 youths, the majority of whom are from the Gunjur region of Gambia, and neighbouring settlements, left Gunjur beach on a fishing boat for Spain. Two years on, no one knows the whereabouts of the occupants of that boat.

    Whilst the film relies on specific themes to create a back story as to why so many continue to risk their lives in search of a better life abroad, at it's core, the film seeks to raise awareness about an issue that continues to dominate the headlines in the Gambia.

    A report released by ActionAid into 'how the Gambia can better address Migration and its development challenges' can be read here.

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    Cherno was born in The Gambia and spent his early years living in London, England before returning to Gambia, to complete his secondary education. Upon returning to the UK in 2002, Cherno studied Law at Wolverhampton, University followed by which he completed a master’s degree in Intellectual Property Law at Queen Mary’s, University of London.

    Having joined the Human Rights Barristers Chambers, Doughty Street Chambers, on an initial one-month internship in late 2009, Cherno later became the Head of Operations in 2014. Whilst at Doughty Street Chambers, and during his early career as an administrator/researcher, Cherno also provided legal research on some of the most ground-breaking UK cases including, The MP’s Expenses Scandal, The Infamous Phone Hacking Case, and the assassination of the former president of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri.

    Whilst employed as the Head of Operations at Doughty Street Chambers, Cherno also trained part-time at Identity School of Drama from 2011 to 2013 and furthered his training by studying 'Meisner' for 2 years at The Actors Temple London from 2014 to 2016. His first major role was in the ground-breaking West End production of The Jungle at The Playhouse Theatre in 2018. Cherno followed up this performance with roles in numerous shorts and indie films.

    In January 2021, Cherno was appointed as the COO of Choose Love, an international NGO that works to improve the lives of refugees and displaced people around the world. During Cherno’s time at Choose Love, he was commended for speaking out against the hostile treatment towards refugees in the media, promoting awareness to improve the narrative around refugees and displaced people, as well as drawing great attention for his efforts in raising just over $35,000 for refugees in Greece, Lebanon and Afghanistan by running 100km in 2021 and 150km in 2022, whilst fasting during the month of Ramadan.

    In October 2022, Cherno was appointed as COO of leading Barristers Chambers, Cloisters Chambers.

    The Backway marks Cherno’s screenwriting, directing and producing debut in which he has applied his knowledge and experience of working within the Human Rights sector over the past 14 years, coupled with his career as an actor, to tell a story about a subject matter he feels personally and professionally connected to.

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    Babou is a BAFTA nominated actor known mostly for his roles in Guerilla, Wolfe and Star Wars Rogue One. He also starred as the main antagonist in Season 3 of the AMC TV series, Into the Badlands.

    Babou was born in London, England, and grew up in the Gambia. He trained at the Oxford School of Drama, having initially studied microbiology at Imperial College London and worked as an internal auditor at accounting firm, Deloitte. Ceesay’s first major role was in the horror comedy, Severance. Two years later he landed a role in an episode of Whistleblower. He made guest appearances in multiple British TV shows including Silent Witness, Law & Order: UK, Casualty, Strike Back, Luther, Getting On and Lewis. In 2013, he worked in the Nigerian film, Half of a Yellow Sun, alongside Thandiwe Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and  John Boyega.

    In 2014, he worked on ’71. In 2015, he was cast in NBC's TV drama, A.D. The Bible Continues as John the Apostle. He also appeared in the thriller Eye in the Sky (2015) and the British action-comedy Free Fire (2016), set in Boston, and starring Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, and Cillian Murphy. He made a return to television with a major role in the Channel 4 drama, National Treasure as Jerome Sharp, Paul Finchley's (played by Robbie Coltrane) lawyer. He then signed up for and starred in a BBC One television movie, Damilola, Our Loved Boy, based on the murder of Damilola Taylor, a ten-year old Nigerian boy living in Peckham, London and the trial which followed. He played the role of the father, Richard Taylor for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor. In August 2016, he was cast in the British miniseries, Guerrilla, alongside Idris Elba and Freida Pinto. In 2019, he was cast as Manny Mensah in the BBC One drama television series Dark Money, with John Schwab and Joseph May. He also performed in the American civil rights drama, The Best of Enemies (2019), adapted from a history about school integration and an unlikely alliance in a town in North Carolina. In 2020, Ceesay was cast as DI Jackson Mendy in the Alibi television series We Hunt Together. In 2021, Paul Abbotts crime drama Wolfe premiered on Sky, in which Ceesay played the title role as a forensic scientist in Manchester.

    Babou is currently filming a lead role in the Ridley Scott produced and Noah Hawley directed TV adaptation of Alien (press release can be read here).

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    Mariama is an actress and human rights activist from the Gambia. A recognised face throughout much of the Gambia, Mariama is driven to perform by her passion to use the arts as a platform to effect change within her community, particularly surrounding societal issues affecting women and girls in the Gambia. She also works as a radio presenter, hosting a mentorship show for young people on pertinent societal issues.

    Mariama also volunteers in her community by educating women about their rights, violence against women, teenage pregnancy, and irregular migration. She is currently volunteering with Allahein Foundation which aims at supporting small villages with basic needs especially women and children.

    In 2020, Mariama was awarded ‘Outstanding Actress of the Year’ at the US Hollywood International Golden Film Award, as well as the Best Actress of the ‘long story short’ international film award in Romania, the same year.

    WHERE YOUR MONEY WILL GO

    We are committed to completing this film to the highest standards. So, it is crucial to that every penny of the funds is spent efficiently. Having now completed filming, your contributions will specifically go towards our post productions costs, which will include:

    • Editing (sound and film editing)
    • Composition – (composing the film’s score and original music)
    • Colour grading
    • Screening (cost of hiring a venue and screening)
    • Film Festivals – in order for The Backway to be seen, it will need to be entered into as many festivals as possible and we have listed as many as 70 of the worlds best festival that we’d like to enter it into, all of which require entrance fees.
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    £4,275.00
    raised of £20,000.00 goal
    8 Days left
    28 Backers

    Pledge without reward:

    You can make a pledge to support The Backway without a reward. The minimum donation is £1.00.
    £
    A special thank you in the credits

    You will receive:
    - a special 'Thank You' in the credits.

    £100.00
    A digital copy of the film poster and script

    You will receive
    -a special 'Thank You' in the credits.
    - a digital copy of the film's poster and script.

    £250.00
    An invitation to a screening of The Backway

    You will receive:
    - A 'Thank You' message in the credits
    - A digital copy of the film poster
    - x2 tickets to a screening of the film.
    - A copy of the script.

    £500.00
    An Executive Producer Credit

    You will receive:
    - Executive Producer Credit
    - IMDb Credit
    - x2 Tickets to Film Screening
    - Copy of film Script
    - Digital Copy of the Film on completion
    - Digital Copy of the film poster

    (20 remaining out of 20)
    £1,000.00