‘How Long is Indefinite?’ comes to Edinburgh

‘How Long is Indefinite?’ will be screened at Edinburgh University on Friday 8th April as part of ‘Refugee Connect: Perceptions of Integration Challenges‘ – a free event of films, discussions and exhibitions on refugee resettlement in their host communities.


Organised by Edinburgh University’s International Development Society, the Glocal Development Academy and The British Red Cross the event aims to provide multidisciplinary insights into the problems connected to refugee reception and integration following the backlash from the ongoing refugee crisis. Find out more here

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‘How Long is Indefinite?’ now in French

‘How Long is Indefinite?’ is now available with French subtitles, courtesy of French detention organisation Observatoire citoyen du CRA de Vincennes who screened the film as part of their human rights film festival ‘Silence on Enferme’.

To receive a French copy of the film for your screening, please e-mail howlongisindefinite@gmail.com



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TV premiere for ‘How Long is Indefinite?’

‘How Long is Indefinite?’ has been selected for broadcast on the Community Channel


It will premiere on Sunday 11th August at 8pm. You can find the channel on Sky 539, Virgin Media 233, Freeview 87 or BT Vision.

The film will then be repeated on the channel at 8pm on Saturday 17th August, 10am on Wednesday 18th September and 9am on Saturday 21st September.

Tune in and let us know what you think!

If you don’t have a TV – the film will be available to stream for free sometime in August at www.communitychannel.org So watch this space.



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Director Q&A on ‘Unheard Voices’ website

Director of ‘How Long is Indefinite?’ Alexis L Wood is interviewed on the making of the documentary and the issue of detention without time limit that inspired the first film to tackle this topic in the UK.

See www.unheardvoices.org.uk for news and interviews on the experiences of people seeking refuge in the UK.

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Jesuit Refugee Service reaction to ‘How Long is Indefinite?’

The Jesuit Refugee Service provide emotional support to people going through the asylum system inside detention without time limit across the UK.

“How Long Is Indefinite” was screened at the Jesuit Refugee Service UK’s Open House at the new Hurtado Jesuit Centre in Wapping, East London.  The film was shown to inform JRS supporters about the kinds of issues faced by the asylum seekers JRS volunteers visit at Immigration Removal Centres near Heathrow. The audience, in general thought it to be a powerful film, some people were actually brought to tears with the reality.  – Kate Monkhouse, JRS Fundraiser

For more information on JRS and its work in detention centres across the UK. Visit www.jrsuk.net

To get a copy of ‘How Long is Indefinite?’ e-mail the director Alexis L Wood at  howlongisindefinite@gmail.com

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Exposing indefinite detention through film

Inside the Detention centre

By director of ‘How Long is Indefinite?’           Alexis L Wood

It is difficult to get the issue of indefinite detention publicised in the mainstream media. This is often because journalists need a ‘hook’, something that creates ‘news value’ because people being detained indefinitely simply isn’t considered news. But of course, many people do not know this is happening or what happens to the people behind the Home Office statistics.  I decided to make ‘How Long is Indefinite?’ to emphasise the stories of detainees as human beings and not just news sound bites or statistics.

Indefinite detention as an aspect of the UK Borders Agency policy has never been raised in film before, yet it is central to all those incarcerated. The report ‘Detained Lives’ from the charity Detention Action, documents the futile practice of detaining those whose deportations cannot, in reality, take place; at least within a ‘reasonable time period’ – often for years. ‘How Long is Indefinite?’ explores the detention of three people affected by this policy: Fouad, Saleh and Aissata. In all three of their cases, the Home Office had no means to deport them and in two of their cases, no prospect of even obtaining it. The film asks why these people are detained in detention centres designed only ‘for the purposes of removal’.

All of the detainees featured in the ‘Detained Lives’ report have been released, some winning unlawful detention cases against their incarceration. However, this does not excuse the damage done to these detainees’ lives and shows that indefinite detention does not work, not to mention is illegal by its own definition. In addition, to detain one person for a year can cost the tax payer £40,150 – a hugely expensive system to operate in times (we are constantly reminded) of ‘austerity measures’.

Indefinite detention also raises mental health implications. In the film Aissata speaks of her 28-day hunger strike in response to six deportation flights the Home Office threatened her with but could never carry out.  As the British government decries human rights abuses abroad, it is often said that closer attention needs to be paid to inhumane practices in the UK.  ‘How Long is Indefinite?’ exposes one such practice that cannot be swept under government rhetoric any longer.

Alexis has worked for a range of charities in the UK and the middle east dealing with the issues of migrants and refugees before becoming a documentary film maker. ‘How Long is Indefinite?’ was inspired by her work with immigration detainees at Detention Action.

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Poem from detention

‘How Long is Indefinite?’ tells the story of three refugees caught in immigration limbo for years on end. Fouad, who appears in the film and was detained for one year and eighteen months wrote this poem as a way to deal with the pain caused by indefinite detention.


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