Ahead of the screening of Glasgow Girls at The Glad Cafe on 2nd of October, we caught up with original Glasgow Girl, Amal Azzudin, at Kelvingrove Art Gallery where the film was previewed at SMHAFF’s Moving Minds Opening Day.

Part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Glasgow Girls was screened yesterday at Kelvingrove Museum. The BBC3 film tells the true story of a group of young women from Drumchapel High School, who started a campaign against dawn raids after their classmate and friend Agnesa was deported back to Kosovo despite her family being in danger of persecution.

The film perfectly blends dry Scottish humour and the stark reality of life in Glasgow as an asylum seeker. It does not shy away from conflicting attitudes towards immigrants and avoids sickly sweet sentimentality with the incredibly honest and true-to-life performances from the starring actresses. Rather than being portrayed as out-and-out heroes, the girls are shown to be perfectly normal teenagers who decided to speak out when they felt something was wrong. 

We spoke to real-life Glasgow Girl Amal Azzudin about seeing her teenage years portrayed on screen.

“It feels surreal and overwhelming to see our story on screen but we are very grateful because it means that many people get to know how asylum seekers are being treated. The film is 95% true. Some parts were dramatised but it did not make a huge difference to the main story.”

“I think it is very important that people know that they have a voice and that they can use it to make a positive difference not only for themselves but for others as well. Women in some parts of the world are not allowed to voice their opinions and if they did so they could be persecuted. We are very lucky that we have freedom of speech and everyone is entitled to share their opinions.”

Amal also added that the group were “still close” and “see each other often.” 

“We don’t campaign as much because dawn raids do not happen as much as they use to anymore and children are not locked up in detention centres. We still raise awareness about the issue though and try to inspire young people to campaign for issues that matter to them.”

Amal now works for the Mental Health Foundation and has used her past experiences to help others.

“The project I work on at the Mental Health Foundation aims to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing to asylum seeking and refugee women so that was one of the main reasons I started working at MHF as I know how much the asylum process can have a negative impact on an asylum seeker.”

This year the SMHAFF has the theme of ‘power’ and screening this film furthers the message that it’s hugely important to feel you have a voice and an opinion worth hearing. It is important for each member of a community to feel empowered, respected and valued. 

Written by Gillian Furmage

Glasgow Girls will be screened on the 2nd of October at The Glad Café in Shawlands and on the 13th of October at the University of Stirling’s Macrobert Arts Centre.