Victoria Terminus: a film by Gerard Vandervegt

by Nick Thomas
on Tuesday 27 Oct 2009

type: Event Notice
topic: Miscellaneous
region: Bristol
event time: Friday 06 Nov 2009 19:30
Gerard Vandervegt is coming to Bristol on Friday 6th November to present the UK Premiere of his film Victoria Terminus and to talk about his work with Mumbai street children. His film is a documentary look at the world of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire – but with the Bollywood tinsel scraped off! This free screening launches Unchosen’s month-long season of films about human trafficking.

Gerard has been working with India’s street children for many years, but he set out to make Victoria Terminus for one simple reason. “The street children's story has to be told by street children themselves”, he says. “It has to be seen – it just can’t be communicated by second-hand accounts. And even then it takes a few leaps to grasp the actual reality!” It sounds straight-forward, but the process of making such a revealing, fly-on-the-wall documentary proved a painstaking one. “My colleagues, Bennet and Vinod and myself spent a year filming around Mumbai. Once we got to know young Aseem, it was clear we’d found a guy we wanted to work with – but the actual interview segments weren’t filmed until about 3 months after we’d met him and his friends.”

Gerard’s intention was to make a film that would let these children tell the world in their own words about the danger and deprivation they face. “I'm responsible for a street children's charity called GSH (Good Shepherd Homes)”, says Gerard, “but we faced a real lack of effective communication tools, so we decided to put some together ourselves! And we wanted the film to work not just as a showcase for our charity, but as a resource that everyone could use.” But Gerard had to take precautions. “The movie tackles police brutality and abuse in government institutions head on – and I was keen not to jeopardise the work of our charity, so in the end I had to shoot Victoria Terminus under a pseudonym.” The film was edited here in Bristol by Tom Russell, an experienced editor and cameraman who has filmed the Olympics, Wimbledon and many BBC Bristol series.

Gerard will be at St Stephens Church in Bristol to talk about Victoria Terminus and to launch the season of films that Unchosen is showing to highlight the issue of human trafficking. Hunger and desperation drive India’s orphans and street children to become illegal child labourers in industries such as silk production, sweet-making and construction. Gerard’s charity Good Shepherd Homes provides children like these with a home, food, education and a sense of safety. And his film shows what life is like without these basics. “We were amazed at the way Aseem and his friends spoke so candidly about their lives”, he says. “We were keen not to have them alter their daily routine one bit for the movie – we simply followed them around, and told them 'Be yourself and don't look at the camera!' – and they rose to the challenge like pros.”

St Stephens Church is just off Bristol’s City Centre, at 21 St. Stephens Street, Bristol BS1 1EQ. Gerard Vandervegt will be there at 7.30pm on Friday 6th November for the UK Premiere of his film. It’s a free event, and is introduced by live music from renowned Indian Classical Vocalist Jatanil Banerjee. After the screening Gerard will talk about the issues covered in the film. This event launches Unchosen’s free season of films, shown every Friday evening throughout November on a big screen at St Stephens Church. Full details are at Unchosen has Director Nick Broomfield as its patron, and has the support of the police, the Fairtrade Network, Unseen, Stop The Traffik, Amnesty International, and the Bristol Legacy Commission.