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The Man Who Fell From the Sky

Written by
Eleanor Harvey
Published date
11 June 2021

Rich Bentley is an award-winning content creator, whose most recent film, The Man Who Fell From the Sky, shows the desperate and deadly lengths people are pushed to in search of a better life. The documentary was first shown on Channel 4 in January 2021. Rich graduated from the BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion at London College of Fashion (LCF) in 2004.

A man in a blue shirt and stone coloured shorts standing looking into the camera
Photo of a plane with 2 people walking towards it

In 2015, Carlito Vale and Themba Cabeka stowed away in the landing gear of a British Airways flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow, an 11-hour journey where temperatures drop to -60C. The story made worldwide news when, devastatingly, Carlito fell to his death in Richmond, London. Miraculously, Themba survived.

Two men walking together down a sandy road, with low buildings behind them
Photo of a graveyard taken from between two trees. Two men stand looking at a gravestone

At the time the world was experiencing the worst migrant crisis since World War II and increasingly divisive attitudes towards immigration. Rich, who is the co-founder of POSTCARD, an independent studio creating content for social good, wanted to create a film that'd reach a wide audience; was asking himself “how do we make 2 million people in the UK watch a film about immigration?”. The shocking story, global headlines, and the fact that so little was known about the two men provided an opportunity to reframe the conversation and highlight the individual stories.

A man in a black leather jacket looking down.
Two men looking into the camera. The man on the left is wearing a blue jacket and jeans. The man on the right is wearing a green bucket hat, a green parka coat and light blue jeans, and is using crutches.
Rich Bentley and Themba Cabeka © POSTCARD

The film covers Rich’s 5-year investigation into the real-life experiences of Carlito and Themba, two friends who went to such deadly lengths to make it to the UK. We see his battle with the authorities who don’t want him delving into this story; his journey to Mozambique to meet Carlito’s friends and widow, and then to Liverpool to speak to Themba himself.

Watch now on All4

14 June - 20 June 2021 is Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.

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