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Welcome to Britain

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Welcome to Britain

Ben Lewin’s 1976 film captures a moment in Britain's evergreen immigration debate, focusing on new arrivals at Heathrow as they wrestle with immigration law.

Documentary 1976 73 mins

Director: Ben Lewin

Overview

About half a mile from Heathrow Airport is Harmondsworth detention centre where the visitors in Ben Lewin’s 1976 film are unceremoniously dumped while government officials ponder British immigration laws. The visitors mostly come from India, Pakistan, and Cyprus and are treated like criminals.

Lewis mixes interviews with some of the ‘inmates’ with profiles of the then minister for immigration, Alex Lyon, and the controversial figure of Reuben Davis, the tabloid-styled ‘Immigrants’ Mr Fixit’, structuring the film around the escalating confrontation between Davis and the detainees on one side and Lyon and his bureaucracy on the other. An early credit in the career of acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (Fargo, Sicario, Skyfall), Welcome to Britain was an insightful film upon its release in 1976 but it remains equally fascinating today seen in the context of the continuing immigration debate.