North West filmmakers selected for prestigious US film festival

Two Londonderry filmmakers have been selected to screen their debut film at a prestigious Irish American film festival in the United States capital.

A look at Northern Ireland’s changing political landscape through graffiti, slogans and murals, ‘Together In Pieces’ will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington DC in March.

It is a huge achievement for the independent film makers as this is the biggest Irish film festival in the United States.

Made by Foxwall Films, ‘Together in Pieces’ is the film debut of David Dryden and Eileen Walsh. The 25-minute documentary was filmed in Derry with funding from the Community Relations Council.

The film examines how political murals and 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.

The title of the film comes from the jargon of graffiti artists. A piece, means a masterpiece, a work of graffiti art which reaches a very high level.

It is the existence of political and paramilitary graffiti in Londonderry, especially on the city’s historic walls, more than 15 years after the Good Friday Agreement that prompted Walsh and Dryden to explore the issue.

Walsh said: “We were thinking who is writing this stuff? Why are they writing it? Does it reflect the views of the community living in that area? Or is it someone else imposing their views? We were really interested in it especially because of the idea of young people having to walk past very sectarian graffiti every day and we wanted to investigate what was going on.”

The festival will be the film’s world festival premiere and follows screenings in Londonderry, Belfast and Dublin, which have been accompanied by stimulating Q&A discussions.

“This is a major coup for Derry and we are very keen to use this opportunity to encourage tourism by encouraging audiences to come and visit and see it for themselves,” Walsh said.

“We’re very excited about going over to Washington. This will be the film’s world festival premiere, and we feel honoured that it’s been selected for such a prestigious festival.

“We’re also very grateful to Invest NI for helping support our trip to Washington. The festival have never had a Northern Irish director in attendance, and this year there will be two,” she added.

“We are hoping the film will be a great showcase for the city and all the changes that have taken place and the incredible work that is going on here behind the scenes in peace and reconciliation.”

Pat Reilly Director of the Capital Irish Film Festival, said: “‘Together in Pieces’ is exactly the kind of documentary that our Washington DC audience loves.

“It tells us something about Northern Ireland as a country and a culture. Many of our Solas Nua members have worked on peace issues and with exchange students from Northern Ireland. They eagerly await this screening.”

‘Together in Pieces’ was commissioned by the Community Relations Council. The film was executive produced by John Peto of the Nerve Centre in Londonderry.

The film features interviews with Bill Rolston, Emeritus Professor of the University of Ulster and world expert on Belfast’s sectarian murals; Linda Watson of Caw Community Group; International Graffiti Artist Man One from Los Angeles; Michael Doherty of Mediate NI (formerly Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Group); Jeanette Warke of the Cathedral Youth Club; Donal O’Doherty of Street Art company Urban Vizualz.

The Capital Irish Film Festival runs from March 3 to 6 in Washington DC and is run by Solas Nua, a US non-profit organisation based in Washington DC dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts.

Solas Nua Board Member Pat Reilly is the director of the 10th annual Capital Irish Film Festival. Both of Pat’s parents were born in Killybegs, County Donegal, and emigrated to New York City, where they met.