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—- BBC star and debut producer Leila Birch screens her heart wrenching short documentary film “ASYLUM” for children’s charity ‘Youth Support’ —-

LOS ANGELES (October 14th, 2010) – Asylum”, is a short film dedicated to the children of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other areas of human conflict, has already won acclaim in the U.K. having been awarded the gift of the academy by BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts).

The documentary was produced by actress and producer Leila Birch to support the children’s charity ‘Youth Support’ . Leila explains: “Our workshops have enabled young people who have been through unspeakable traumas, many of whom are still in pain, to show us their experiences through drama, art and music. By sharing their stories through their laughter and their tears, they are able to begin to heal some of their wounds. By allowing these kids to express their feelings we can improve our understanding of their cultures and difficulties and can work together to give them a positive future.”

Leila who played the feisty Teresa di Marco in the BBC BAFTA award winning Drama EastEnders opposite stars such as Jimi Mystry (2012, Blood Diamond, RockNRolla), Martin Kemp (The Krays, Spandau Ballet) and Louise Jameson (Dr Who), enjoyed some of the most explosive scenes in the long running series. Leila has been volunteering as Drama Director for ‘Youth Support’ for some years, creating and running workshops for disturbed children, ex-gang teens and abuse victims in the UK, Los Angeles, Kentucky and Kingston Jamaica.  A few years ago the charity became involved in helping young refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and (though not shown in the film), trafficked girls from Africa.

“Asylum’s” Director Dr Diana Birch, founded the charity ‘Youth Support’ in 1986 in response to the lack of services for teenagers, particularly abused young people and those struggling with poverty, absent families or parents who just did not care. “We work on the ‘front line’ and have achieved a great deal on shoestring budgets, introducing youth to creativity and allowing them to hope for a better future.” says Dr Birch.

The project began when Leila and other volunteers decided to hold a Drama and Art workshop and wanted to film it for the charity’s archives. “As planning got underway, we realized that this little project could really help raise awareness for the charity and the cause,” continues Leila.  “So I pulled in as many people as I could to help us create this touching film.”

The Charity ‘Youth Support’ has been working with young refugees and asylum seekers who arrive in foreign countries destitute and traumatized having often traveled illegally stowed away in trucks and containers. They are preyed on by ‘agents’ who traffic these ‘human commodities’ and force them to face life-threatening ordeals. Sadly when they arrive in their new countries they do not always meet welcoming arms. They may face prejudice, lack of understanding and further abuse.

For the first time in America “Asylum” will be screened at La Femme Festival in Los Angeles on Sunday October 17th at 10am Renberg Theatre,
1125 N. McCadden Place Los Angeles 90038. Those fortunate to attend this heartfelt screening will be greeted by Actress and Producer Leila Birch and ‘Youth Support’ charity founder, Dr Diana Birch.

A new book, ‘Asylum Seeking Children’, by Diana Birch, has now been published to support the work being done by ‘Youth Support’ describing her valuable work in Afghanistan and with the young people and a section on age assessment and development of young people.

For further information for the special screening of “Asylum” or information on the documentary please contact: Liz Rodriguez

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