Ukraine war makes migration festival poignant event
The one million refugees from Ukraine who in just one week have fled from the brutal war Russia has launched against their country will give Luxembourg's migration festival a bittersweet taste this year.
Inna Yaremenko, a producer from the country who is scheduled to participate in a masterclass during what is officially known as the Festival of Migration, Culture and Citizenship, intends to bring some of the 200 Ukrainians who have arrived in Luxembourg in the past few days to the festival.
Madagascan-born Alain Randresy is in charge of the festival as part of the Committee for Foreign Associations (CLAE), which he says, acts as a “Swiss army knife”, providing a toolkit for migrants to find work, get social assistance, and learn a language to better integrate.
Long before the invasion of Ukraine, the festival line-up was set to include a web documentary from Ukrainian director Sofiya Kudryavtseva, who has lived in Luxembourg for many years, Randresy says.
The festival will bring 13 events over a period of two months and will end with a two-day mini-festival at the CEPA art school in Hollerich on 7 and 8 May. That is a different format than the previous 20 years, when the festival consisted of a three-day event at LuxExpo visited by some 30,000 people.
But in its 39th iteration, the festival will take place on trains and at smaller venues, with more digital events because of the pandemic.
The festival was first created in 1981, with a few stands in the city centre representing foreign associations. Over the years, it has grown into a bigger event, adding a book and culture fair in 2000 and including more painters, sculptors, digital artists and photographers in 2013.
The festival will kick off with a free concert at the Rotondes, with artists from Egypt, Mexico, India and Venezuela featuring ensemble Khamset (modern oriental melodies) and Radwan & Friends (oriental, Sufi, Latin and world music fusion). The performance will also include flamenco dancers.
Involvement from all corners of the Grand Duchy is an important aspect of this year’s festival. On 12 to 13 March, trains from Pétange will host a masterclass from film director Adolf El Assal, an acoustic performance from Marcel Sawuri, and a reading workshop for children.
Using a train to feature talks, music and entertainment into people’s lives, reflects not just the physical motion migrants undertake, but also their emotional journey, says Randresy. “Migrants are constantly moving. They might ask which train station did I first arrive at in Luxembourg, where did I first live, where did my children first go to school?” he says.
Trains will depart from Wasserbillig on 19 -20 March to feature a masterclass from director Govinda van Maele in the morning, an acoustic concert from Roda de Coladeira in the afternoon, and tales from author Eurydice Reinert Cend.
The following weekend, the journey starts in Diekirch with a masterclass from Marion Guth, producer of a BAHN films, stand-up comedy from Jess Bauldry & Co, and an acoustic performance from Cubañol.
The closing weekend on 7 and 8 May will take place at CEPA in Hollerich in a space of 8000 sqm, reflecting a smaller-scale version of the LuxExpo-style festival, with music, dance, film, books, art and food.
There will also be digital content including web-documentaries on artists and craftsman who have migrated to Luxembourg, and an immersive “fly on the wall” photographic web-documentary which invites viewers into 10 associations in Luxembourg. These will be accessible on 1 April here.
All the events for the Festival of Migrations are free, and you can find out more, reserve a space at an event or train journey or access digital content here. A website set up by Ukrainian migrants in Luxembourg to support their fellow country people provides more details on how you can help.
The festival line-up includes talks, live concerts, live comedy, film masterclasses, a literary meeting, book readings and fairs, art and food, but also digital content including web documentaries from various directors. “It’s not about educating people, but creating opportunities for them to meet through books, movies, music, or just simply by doing something with others outside their usual community,” says Randresy.