Channel 4 will broadcast a short film about the refugee response in Greece, created by a student from Enfield.

The Law of the Sea is an animation that tells the story of how fishermen on the island of Lesbos, Greece, have been tirelessly helping to rescue refugees from the Mediterranean Sea.

North London-based freelance animator and filmmaker Elmaz Ekrem, 21, studied BA (Hons) Animation at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham alongside Dominika Ożyńska.

Dominika travelled to Lesbos in January this year while Elmaz gave up her place to a translator. Despite not going with her co-director, Elmaz says the seven-month process of creating the film was a hugely moving experience.

“The subject matter of this film, the war in Syria and the humanitarian crisis it has created, is a global issue,” says Elmaz. “It is something that everyone should know about. When an act of war is broadcast as a news story, or the image of another drowned innocent child goes viral, it is so easy for a nation to become spectators to a situation that they should be actively helping.

“Our film takes on a unique viewpoint, letting the voice of people who have taken on this responsibility of rescuing refugees be heard. The fishermen that we interviewed are not trained coastguards, but normal people like you and me who get up and go to work each day in order to provide for themselves and their families.

“These fishermen were never asked to help people as they made the deadly crossing, but they do so without question. The fishermen described how the daily rescue efforts of people on the dangerously-overcrowded boats had become a part of their normal routine, demonstrating how this massive humanitarian crisis has essentially become the norm.”

According to the National Ocean Service, “the law of the sea is a body of customs, treaties, and international agreements by which governments maintain order, productivity, and peaceful relations on the sea”.

However, in the Mediterranean Sea it is not governments coming together to help solve the refugee crisis but ordinary people that are going out of their way to help their fellow man.

Dominika adds: “When I went to Lesbos I was shocked that none of the fishermen or local people questioned whether to help refugees or not. The crisis affected them directly and turned their lives upside down. They still accepted it and did everything they could to help those that were coming to the island.

“I think it’s important to show people this perspective – one of unconditional help and support for those in need. Because for me, it’s not only the law of the sea, it is a universal law – if someone needs help, you help them. It’s easy to forget about it when the issues seem far away.”

The animation took a total of seven months to make and, upon their return to the UK, the students selected the most telling interviews to use for their short film.

It will feature in the Channel 4 show Random Acts, which showcases short films chosen for their bold and original expressions of creativity.

“After we had chosen which interviews and audio tracks to use, we began painting each frame using pictures of the fishermen we had taken in Lesbos as a reference. The animation method used was a mix of acrylic on paper and oil on glass – a form of under camera technique,” adds Elmaz.

The Law of the Sea will air from midnight tomorrow night on Thursday November 10.