Serkan Nihat’s debut feature film Exodus to open the London Independent Film Festival

Exodus, the debut feature film of a British Turkish Cypriot director Serkan Nihat, will open this year’s London Independent Film Festival (LIFF). The festival specialises in promoting “first- and second-time filmmakers telling amazing stories with limited budgets”.

The festival opening gala and screening will take place at the multi award-winning Genesis Cinema in East London on Friday, 19 April.

After working on hit television shows such as Broadchurch and Taboo, award-winning editor turned director Nihat’s first foray into movies is a hard-hitting drama inspired by recent historical events.

Exodus is set against the fallout of the 2016 attempted coup in Turkiye, which Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen and his followers are accused of mounting. Gülen and his organisation, the Gülen Movement, were subsequently branded “terrorists” and, following a decree issued by President Erdoğan, the Turkish authorities then set about purging suspected members of the Gülen Movement from the public sector and civil service.

Tens of thousands of ordinary people suddenly found themselves not only fired from their jobs, but also treated as an enemy of the state with no recourse to justice. Thousands were detained by the Turkish authorities and their assets seized, prompting others fearful of a similar fate going into exile.

Exodus picks up the tale of a university lecturer and a police officer, who are accused by the Turkish state of being terrorists. Facing detention, they too decide to leave their homes, loved ones and country.

Their planned exit route brings them together with others who are also desperately seeking escape: a Yazidi fleeing Isis, a Kurdish artist, a Turkish mother and son, and a Congolese man who all turn to people smugglers to be illegally transported to Europe.

The film portrays what is essentially a universal story of people from different backgrounds facing various forms of persecution, who all share the same desire and hope for a better future as they bid to reach a place where they can find safety and freedom.

The Exodus cast includes several British Turkish actors including Umit Ulgen and Selen Cabel, who play Mehmet and Zelal, and Sen Monro as General Refik.

LIFF will host a Q&A with Serkan Nihat immediately after the screening of the movie.

This year’s London Independent Film Festival runs for ten days, starting on 19 April and concluding on 28 April. The full programme of screenings and events are available from the LIFF website – click here.

Opening Gala and Screening Details

Title: Exodus – LIFF 2024 Opening Gala

Date: Friday 19 April 2024

Time: LIFF opening gala starts at 7.30pm, with the screening of Exodus scheduled for 9pm, with the Q&A to follow afterwards.

Venue: Screen 1, Genesis Cinema, 93 – 95 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, London E1 4UJ

Admission: all tickets are priced £10.50 making this one of the most affordable red carpet film galas around!

Tickets: you can purchase tickets for the opening gala via the cinema website online – click here to access.