Limbo: The Art of Balancing Comedy and Tragedy

Next week at the Showroom, we’ll be welcoming director Ben Sharrock for a Q&A session alongside a preview of his fantastic new feature film, Limbo. The film is a remarkable, deadpan comedy-drama that follows Omar, a young Syrian musician that is placed on a remote Scottish Island while he awaits the results of his asylum claim. It offers a fresh perspective on the refugee crisis and seeks to humanise a group of people otherwise largely villainised or pitied in film.

Limbo strikes a unique balance between absurdist humour, drama and tragedy, finding warmth and joy in the face of adversity. Making a comedy about the refugee crisis is no easy feat. Still, in Limbo, Ben Sharrock has managed to avoid making light of the film’s more challenging themes. Instead, they are faced head-on, which grounds the film in comfortable, relatable realism. Even in the darkest times, it perseveres, constantly pushing forwards, often with a bit of laughter.

Despite only being Sharrock’s second film, there is an incredibly well-established directorial voice here. You can see flavours from other directors that came before him - Roy Andersson, Aki Kaurismaki and Eila Suliman. All experts in the deadpan and the absurd, but this film is uniquely Sharrock’s. What’s particularly unique is how Sharrock manages to get the deadpan notes pitch-perfect - a traditionally distant and observational style – but still manages to create a deeply heartfelt film. Limbo invites you on a journey and asks you to invest yourself in the story.

It’s been a long time since we have been able to support films with Q&A’s, and this is precisely the type of film best suited to one. The session will provide an opportunity to scratch below the surface, where there is so much to uncover. Sharrock himself studied Arabic and Politics at University and spent time living in Damascus before the civil war. I’m excited we will have the opportunity to dig deeper and find out how those experiences fed into this beautiful film.

Showroom Cinema has kept most of its safety practices in place, despite the latest easing of restrictions. It’s still operating at reduced capacity, with social distancing in all screens and across the venue. Tickets for this film preview and Q&A will therefore be limited, so I’d advise booking in advance where possible, so you don’t miss out.

Our Q&A screening is on Tuesday 27 July at 5.45 pm, and the film will be on wide release from Friday 30 July.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 22 July 2021.


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