Over 150 people attended Lady Margaret Hall’s first ever film premiere on Sunday afternoon, which was held at the Simpkins Lee Theatre on the college site. The UK premiere of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, was held in aid of the Oxford based charity Refugee Resource.
Refugee Resource works with refugees and asylum seekers who have recently arrived in the UK, aiming to provide them with psychological, social and practical support. One of their primary methods is a mentoring program, pairing refugees with local residents to help them settle into life in England. Simon Beaufoy, a former Oxford student, decided to hold the charity screening when he heard that Refugee Resource was low on funding. Beaufoy is an Oscar winning screenwriter, and Jericho resident, and penned the film’s screenplay. He also took part in a question and answer session after the screening. The charity’s mentoring outreach worker Sue Snelders told the Oxford Mail that she was amazed that it would be the first showing of the film in the UK and that it was “very generous” of the screenwriter.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is an adaptation of a critically acclaimed comic novel by Paul Torday, an Oxford alumnus. The story centres on an unlikely friendship between a fisheries minister and a Yemeni sheikh, which results in an ill-fated project to introduce salmon fishing to Highlands of the Yemen. Torday took a hands-off approach to the film and scriptwriting, claiming that he had little to add. However, he has good-humouredly stated that he thinks Ewan McGregor “is basically too cool and too good-looking” to play his quiet hero.
The film will be released across the UK on March 17th before which there will be a more conventional premiere held in London’s West End. Audience members’ reactions were generally positive with one viewer stating that the film was “very enjoyable and a lot funnier than I expected!”