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City set for big screen movie premiere

Oxford Mail: Amr Waked and Ewan McGregor in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Amr Waked and Ewan McGregor in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

MOVIE premieres are usually held in London’s Leicester Square, with a glamorous guest list and a glittering backdrop.

But a world away from the West End, hopes are building that the A-list could be getting ready to descend on Oxford.

Slumdog Millionaire scriptwriter Simon Beaufoy is bringing the first UK screening of his new movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to Oxford in aid of the charity Refugee Resource.

The 45-year-old Oxford University graduate, who lives in Jericho, will give a question-and-answer session at two special screenings of the movie starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas, to raise money for a city charity close to his heart.

Neither the scriptwriter nor the charity would be drawn on whether the film’s stars will be attending the event, at Lady Margaret Hall, in Norham Gardens.

But Sue Snelders, of Refugee Resource, said: “We may have to put on some security for guests on the night.”

The charity pairs refugees who arrive in the city with mentors who help them to settle into life here.

Mr Beaufoy told the Oxford Mail: “I heard the charity was suffering major cuts in its funding and I think it does incredibly important work providing people who arrive from all over the world with support.

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“I recently spent some time in a refugee camp in Kenya seeing where some of these people come from and knowing where they arrive, it would be like landing on the moon to come here.”

The movie, based on the Richard and Judy Book Club best-selling novel by Paul Torday, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Yemeni sheik and a British fisheries ministry worker as their different worlds collide in a project to introduce salmon fishing to the Highlands of the Yemen.

Bringing foreign worlds and little-known cultures to the big screen is what Mr Beaufoy enjoys most, after starting out as a documentary maker.

He said: “There’s such extraordinary potential for story-telling in different places, bringing some of that colour on to the screen, because ultimately while the audience doesn’t know much about that other world, they will understand the people in it.”

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen will go on general release in the UK in March after a star-studded West End premiere, but first it will be shown here in Oxford, with ticket sales helping to finance Refugee Resource’s work.

The charity’s mentoring outreach worker Ms Snelders said: “This will be the first time the film is shown in the UK which is really amazing. It’s very generous of Simon Beaufoy.

“The film is kind of about a mentoring relationship, so it’s quite a clear, but fun way to talk about the issue.

“It’s great to be so well supported in the city, particularly by Lady Margaret Hall and Aziz restaurant, who are providing the venue and catering free of charge.”

The two screenings, a matinee and black-tie evening event, will be hosted at the Simpkins Lee theatre on January 15.

Tickets can be bought for £30 or £50 at www.wegottickets.com/event/147931 and all proceeds go to the charity.

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