Voices of the New Belfast

Watch a selection of short films from the project to be showcased at Stormont, exploring ethnic relations, equality and other challenging cultural issues

Voices of the New Belfast is an exciting documentary film project capturing real stories and experiences of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds on camera.

Created by award-winning Belfast filmmaking charity ESC, the project draws from individuals across the city who would identify with the BME community, the Roma community, the Chinese, Polish and Eastern European communities, and those who do not identify with a particular community at all. Each was given the chance to tell their story.

The films bring up difficult issues and challenging questions around identity, racism and stereotypes, human trafficking, culture and the space for different cultures, Islam, atheism, religion and the troubled concept of home.

The project, supported by Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department and the Community Relations Council, worked in partnership with East Belfast’s Globe Café and South Belfast’s Belfast Friendship Club and filmmakers Stuart Sloan, Jonny Agnew and Gerard Stewart.

A special screening kicks off 2015's Community Relations and Cultural Awareness week at Stormont's Long Gallery this coming Monday, September 28 at 6pm, providing the opportunity for engaged discussion around the issues they raise. Contemporary composer and sound designer Przemek Straus will perform live music at the event while there will also be professional portrait photography from Grzegorz Gabrys. Both are ‘incomers’ to Belfast.

Sponsored and masterminded by East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle, the event has already attracted interest from the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Guy Spence, as well as the Chair of the Community Relations Council, Peter Osborne, who will be speaking at the event.

The long-awaited Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland (2014 – 2024) aims to establish a framework for Government departments (and others) to tackle racial inequalities, to eradicate racism and hate crime and along with Together: Building a United Community, to promote good race relations and social cohesion. This project reveals the work that is happening on the ground at grass-roots level among impassioned individuals in our communities that is delivering real social change.

One of those individuals is Globe Café founder Jenny Smithson, cited as one of the key inspirations behind the film projects, who explains: 'Globe Café has been operating in East Belfast now for just over a year and we’ve been involved in helping to tell the stories of some of the foreign nationals who have chosen to come to Belfast to work or study.

'The event will provide an invaluable opportunity for those who participate in the programme to make their voices heard and to gain confidence as they help others understand their stories. This may be, for some, a significant step in developing their sense of ‘belonging’ here in Belfast.'

Register free to attend the Voices of the New Belfast Screening here.