Helen Mirren, The Road Home and film star dreams!

Helen Mirren has been in town recently. She was here filming 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' a Dreamworks Studio production about an Indian family that moves to France to open an Indian restaurant, right opposite a Michelin starred restaurant owned by Helen Mirren. There's been quite a buzz about it in the area and many went and auditioned to be extras in the film. We tried but as we weren't yet registered to pay tax in France they wouldn't let us even hand in the form. They were filming in nearby St Antonin, a popular holiday destination and film location (part of Charlotte Grey was filmed there.) The centre of the town shut down whilst they filmed but we walked around before they started and tried to remember which shops/cafés were there before and which had been specifically set up for filming...like this Café Rouge!

Thus with film star dreams dashed we turned to a different film adventure. We were contacted by the film director Raul Gandotra who brought to our attention his Acadamy Awards shortlisted mini film 'The Road Home'. He thought it might be of interest to us as it dealt with expat themes. The film is about a 10-year old English boy who is sent to boarding school in the Himalayas by his parents. He is British, but of Indian heritage, and he struggles to accept that people may not see him the way that he sees himself.

There are themes that I identified with in the film being of mixed raced heritage myself. I was born and raised in London but my dad is Nigerian and my mum is from Yorkshire. Having been asked numerous times in my life 'Where are you from?' I know that people who ask are not looking for London as the answer. I am British and have found it mildly annoying in the past that because of the colour of my skin people expect me to be from somewhere else in the world. But I have never taken true offence to it and always been happy to tell people of my cultural background.

After watching 'The Road Home' Andrew and I discussed what nationality we thought our boys would grow up feeling. At 4, Reuben has memories of London life but how much of that he will retain as he grows up in France I'm not sure. 21 month old Jacob won't remember a thing, but both will be frequent visitors to the UK as we visit family and friends. I've read lots of stories about expat children from the UK feeling more British when in France and French when in Britain. One of the reasons for moving here was to give our boys the opportunity of growing up surrounded by the best of rural French culture, the language, the slower pace of village life, the freedom of the outdoors, but that doesn't mean we want them to forget where they came from or the culture they left behind. It will be up to us to remind them of the best of British, we won't be letting go of our Sunday dinners and we know of a good local (British run!) fish and chip van. As a mixed raced family living in rural France we know that we are in the minority. There are many other expat families in the area from various different countries and I hope that our boys will learn from the people we become friends with as well as from us.

Are you an expat family with children? How do you help them retain their home cultural identity whilst embracing a new one? We'd love to hear from you.

If you would like to watch The Road Home click here.

Becky x

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