Astoria, the latest in the series of Young Vic short films, was released alongside the Young Vic’s Horizons season announcement earlier this week.
Written and directed by Paul Mason, former economics editor of Channel 4 News and BBC’s Newsnight, it follows a Syrian refugee’s journey to the West. Once there, an encounter with the past in a Budapest hotel draws a parallel between Europe’s historical and current response to refugees.
The experience highlights the necessity of resistance to oppression – and the danger of losing sight of history. In Astoria, Paul Mason explores the irony that today’s refugees are moving through a landscape that was the site of genocide; the limitations of what individual people can do when faced with atrocity; the way resistance and memory intertwine. Astoria was filmed in Budapest, Hungary and Stoke Newington, London in early 2016, Astoria stars July Namir and Sonya Cassidy.
In 2012, Paul covered the rise of the far right party in Hungary. Whilst there, his team stayed at the Astoria Hotel and discovered it was used as S.S. Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann’s headquarters and as a torture chamber during World War Two. Since then, Mason has wanted to tell that story.
Paul said, “It is axiomatic that the story of the refugees will be told by refugees. But the story of our inhospitable continent, and our forgetfulness about why people leave their homes, and where hatred leads – that is our story and we have to confront it. Astoria is my personal response.”
A new series of short films based on the experiences of refugees from around the world will be released in 2016 – 17.
You can find out more about Horizons, a season exploring the lives of refugees, at the Young Vic in our Horizons blog post.