Aisha: Plot, Cast, Release Date, and Everything Else We Know – MovieWeb

Aisha offers a thoughtful, moving commentary on the questions of immigration, bureaucracy, and belonging. Here’s what to know.
A prolific documentarian, Irish filmmaker Frank Berry's feature work has been more sparse but equally well-received. His most famous film to date, 2017's prison drama Michael Inside, garnered excellent reviews and brought Berry the Irish Film and Television Award for Best Film while also launching the career of its young star, Dafhyd Flynn, who has since appeared in Prime Video's Vikings franchise.
Berry's latest feature film, Aisha, is set to wow audiences on its general release next month. The film, a co-production between several production companies and development agencies including BBC Films, Screen Ireland, and the Irish national broadcasting company RTE, received plaudits at its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in the summer and also played to an appreciative crowd last week at the BFI London Film Festival. Here's what to know about Berry's hard-hitting film.
Aisha offers a thoughtful, moving commentary on the questions of immigration, bureaucracy, and belonging. It concerns the plight of Aisha, a woman who flees her native Nigeria and seeks asylum in the Republic of Ireland. During the lengthy asylum application process, Aisha attempts to get on with her life, securing a part-time job as a hairdresser in Dublin.
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However, she also suffers the multiple uncertainties and anxieties that come with being at the centre of a bureaucratic and largely faceless process that treats her — and the harrowing tale of sexual violence and the death of family members in Nigeria that she relates — with indifference.
Along the way, she befriends an ex-prisoner, now working as a security guard on the night shift, and the audience receives an object lesson in what it means for two well-meaning but suffering people to experience adversity together in circumstances almost entirely beyond their control. Aisha gets moved from one facility to another, presented with impossible choices, and treated as a statistic in a system judged to be harsh, cruel, and cold.
Having offered critiques of Irish social issues in his documentary work in the past, director Berry turns his attention in Aisha to Ireland's direct provisions policy — a controversial system that farms out the work of providing for the day-to-day needs of asylum seekers to private contractors, with some housed in a basic, dormitory or hostel-style accommodation, sometimes for years on end. At the same time, the companies frequently rack up substantial profits.
With a sense of unshakable moral rectitude reminiscent of the works of English director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies), Aisha exposes the inequities and injustices of the system, with Wright turning in an excellent performance and O'Connor doing understated, dignified work as her advocate and would-be partner.
Playing the titular role of Aisha is Letitia Wright. A Guyanese-born British actor, Wright cut her teeth on British genre television, making early appearances in science fiction series such as Doctor Who, Humans, and Black Mirror before coming to the attention of the wider film-going public for her work opposite the late Chadwick Boseman as Shuri in Black Panther (2018). Wright reprised the role in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Over the last year, Wright has been in particular demand, contributing voice work to Universal's animated musical comedy Sing 2, appearing in Kenneth Branagh's star-studded adaptation of Death on the Nile, playing the lead in the psychological drama The Silent Twins (which she also co-produced), and returning to the role of Shuri for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, due to premiere next month. Her next film, the Reconstruction-era period drama Surrounded, is currently in post-production.
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Wright's co-star is Josh O'Connor, best known to international audiences for his Golden Globe-winning performance as Prince Charles in The Crown. However, O'Connor has likewise been busy in the last couple of years, starring in several period dramas, including Autumn de Wilde's 2020 reimagining of Emma as the Reverend Elton, and last year's romantic drama Mothering Sunday, while filming on his next project, the romantic comedy Challengers, wrapped in the summer (the film, also starring Zendaya, is due for release next August). In Aisha, O'Connor plays Conor, the security guard who befriends and falls in love with Aisha during her plight.
Prominent among the supporting cast are two of Ireland's most well-known character actors, Ruth McCabe (Philomena, Victoria and Abdul) and Lorcan Cranitch (Shackleton, Dancing at Lughnasa), as well as Abdul Alshareef, who appeared most recently opposite Star Trek's Chris Pine and Academy Award nominee Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Two Popes) in Amazon Prime's spy film All The Old Knives earlier this year.
Aisha received its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 6, 2022. It will release in the United Kingdom on November 17, 2022.


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