Great news for Derry film makers Eileen Walsh and David Dryden who have received an international distribution deal for their documentary film Together in Pieces.
Together in Pieces is a 25 minute film which documents the changing political landscape in Northern Ireland, viewed through the prisms of graffiti and murals.
Produced by Eileen Walsh for the Community Relations Council, and directed by Walsh and David Dryden, with John Peto acting as Executive Producer, the film examines how political murals and sectarian slogans are prolonging the healing process in Northern Ireland and how they sit cheek by jowl with a new wave of street art and graffiti.
Beautifully shot in the city, the film offers an innovative and stylish take on the impact which the built environment has had on the conditioning of young people in Northern Ireland, specifically in Derry.
Together in Pieces now has global distribution with prestigious academic platform Kanopy, providing a powerful showcase for the city of Derry which has served as both the birthplace of the Northern Ireland Troubles and also the cradle of its Peace Process, a place where creativity and expression transform didactic public art into a vehicle of choice, liberation and opportunity for young people to escape the tyranny of the past and bring the power of culture into their future.
The film has attracted a lot of attention internationally, not least in academic circles, and has achieved outstanding success at major documentary film festivals including the Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington DC, the biggest Irish film festival in the USA and the inaugural Hip Hop Film Festival in New York, the birthplace of graffiti and hip hop culture.
Together in Pieces is also being used as a teaching resource on several courses on Kanopy’s global university network in departments such as Social Sciences, Global Studies and Languages, Politics and Current Affairs and Visual Art, among others.
Walsh, a cultural activist who also produces the popular Weekly Arts show on Drive 105 said:
‘This is our first film so we were thrilled to hear that it is now up on Kanopy, a prestigious digital education platform that serves over 3000 universities around the world, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge etc. It’s like Netflix for universities.
‘Northern Ireland has been too quiet on the subject of sectarianism which remains an unspoken and as yet largely unaddressed subtext. And sadly, those communities controlled by sectarian narratives are the same ones which struggle to experience the benefits of the peace process.’
‘Audiences here and abroad are really keen to talk about sectarianism in a safe place and I guess the film acts as a kind of catalyst that allows this. The film touches upon many themes and is pretty loaded. We have had screenings here and abroad and always do a Q&A with the audience and a panel discussion. These are always really animated and interesting and can often go on for a whole two hours. It’s that kind of film!’ said Walsh.
The film has been successful as a spring board for creating debate around the issue of sectarian symbolism in public spaces and expression of identity in a changing socio-political environment.
David Dryden said: ‘Together in Pieces seems to appeal to arts, cultural, social geography and conflict resolution interests across the world, as well as to the Irish diaspora. It reflects an emerging vibrant Northern Ireland which is not part of the ‘official’ narrative promoted by institutions, even today.
‘Because of the subject matter of graffiti and use of hip hop music, the film is very attractive to youth audiences and this is reflected in the treatment, style, passion and pace of the film,’ he said.
‘We were thrilled when Los Angeles-based distributor Silicon Beach expressed an interest in our film,’ said Walsh.
Peter Greene of Silicon Beach Distribution said: ‘Silicon Beach Distribution is excited to be working with Kanopy for the worldwide educational distribution of TOGETHER IN PIECES. They are well-respected in the educational distribution arena and continue to expand their presence beyond universities to public libraries including New York and Los Angeles. They are a wonderful partner and will help expand the awareness and presence of the film.’
Niamh Hargan, Media Lawyer with US law firm Smith Dehn, who have offices in Derry said:
‘This is great news. There are a huge number of short films out there being made so to get distribution on a well-established educational platform like Kanopy is really an amazing achievement.’
‘The reaction from audiences and the interest the film has generated both here and internationally has led us to set up a Social Enterprise called Together in Pieces interactive. We have had huge help from Brian O Neill of Enterprise North West who has been an amazing mentor, ‘said Walsh.
‘Our Social Enterprise, Together in Pieces Interactive CIC, aims to stimulate social change and eradicate sectarianism through the exploration of graffiti, street art and hip hop culture.
A recent project, supported by the Acorn Fund/Community Foundation for Northern Ireland involved a series of interactive workshops with young people in the Derry and Strabane district where they were able to learn about and develop their understanding of the murals, graffiti and street art of their own community and that of the ‘other’, through film, discussion, creative tasks and a Graffiti Safari.
‘This project has been designed to highlight the important role public space plays in our own mental health and well-being. What you see around you on a daily basis really does affect you. Often children carry messages of what they’ve seen on walls and buildings in their minds until they are adults. With our Graffiti Safaris and Interactive Workshops we’re trying to empower young people to take ownership of their own communities and their own public space and we are keen to work with many more groups in the city and region.’
Together in Pieces Interactive can be contacted on Facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org