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Limbo ‘was a chance to show the world what refugees are really like’

When Adam Abdalrhman and Raadi Madhi walked on to the set of writer-director Ben Sharrock’s Limbo, the British comedy-drama about a Syrian migrant waiting for asylum on a remote Scottish island, they were reminded of their own experiences

When Adam Abdalrhman and Raadi Madhi walked on to the set of Limbo, they drew on their own experiences to tell the story of an asylum seeker. They tell Hanna Flint about the experience.

Adam: Limbo was the first time I’ve acted in this country and in a movie. That’s why I was very happy to get the chance. In Sudan, I was an actor and had experience in theatre, on stage and at drama festivals.

I came here about three years ago. I crossed to Ireland and it was so cold and Glasgow was so cold!

Everything is different here but Limbo was a good chance for me to see actors and how the people here work. It was a chance to send the message to the world about what refugees are really like, how to integrate, get in with the community and help each other.

I was a comedian on stage so I love comedy films. I love Will Smith – I loved Aladdin and his other movies. I like Money Heist on Netflix. I can never remember the names of American films I watch but a recent favourite is a Sudanese documentary called Talking About Trees.

Unfortunately, our country didn’t have college to help people study cinema – our government destroyed everything – but I’ve applied for a course here because I need more experience and I need to learn how to edit. It would help me to make professional films back in my country.

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Raadi: I was in a film called Asylum (2011), which was a similar story – a few asylum seekers being detained at a detention centre. It was more of a stunt role as I had to climb a tree.

The producer later put me in touch with Ben, who she told about my long time waiting doing the whole asylum process – I’ve been in Scotland since 2007. He told me about the Limbo script, I read it and I came back to him about what could be added and basically reviewed it. He said there was a small role which I rehearsed for and landed.

I’m a structural engineer, but there were quite a few professional actors telling me they didn’t believe this was the first time I’ve really acted. It’s because this story was so relatable I just had to go back and be myself. It was great fun.

I don’t really like action-type films or fantasy and sci-fi. I like films that show hard work actually pays off, a true story or something based in real life. I could watch The Kite Runner a million times. In the last few years, a few Kurdish films have made it to festivals which are based on the true stories of the lives of our people, like Memories on Stone by Shawkat Amin Korki and Reseba: The Dark Wind by Hussein Hassan Ali.

The first foreign film ever translated to Kurdish badini dialect on our TVs was Braveheart, around 2004. It was shown on every national occasion. The Kurdish people want independence and the whole struggle with monarchy really resonates with us.

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