U.S. Coup for NI Graffiti Film

Short documentary Together in Pieces, which charts political change through murals and street art, will screen at the Hip Hop Film Festival in New York

A documentary on graffiti art in Northern Ireland is to be shown at a major film festival showcasing hip-hop culture in New York. Together in Pieces will be screened at the inaugural Hip Hop Film Festival which takes place in Harlem in August.

It will be the second time Derry~Londonderry filmmakers Eileen Walsh and David Dryden have taken the 25-minute documentary across the Atlantic, following its screening at the Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington D.C. in March.

Together in Pieces looks at Northern Ireland's political landscape through the evolving face of its graffitied streets, particularly in the North West. It examines how political murals and slogans are prolonging the healing process across the country and how they sit cheek by jowl with a new wave of street art and graffiti.

Commissioned by the Community Relations Council and launched at the Nerve Centre in 2014, the film was two years in the making, and is the first by Walsh and Dryden, who work together under Foxwall Films.

Together in Pieces 2

Filmmakers David Dryden and Eileen Walsh

According to Walsh, while the film does tackle issues about the conflict here, she and her co-director wanted to take a fresh approach both in content and style. 

'The way we have dealt with the whole idea of sectarianism - we have used graffiti and hip-hop, which go together,' she says. 'That makes it very appealing to a youth audience. The kind of film we wanted to make was a modern film that would appeal to young people, not one that uses archive material from the Troubles. It’s all new footage and we were trying to do it in a different way from the kind of stuff we have been used to seeing about Northern Ireland.'

Together in Pieces is an effort to reflect the changes that have happened and are happening in Northern Ireland in recent years. 'Derry has come from being the birthplace of the Troubles, and now internationally Derry is seen almost as a world centre of peace and reconciliation,' Walsh adds. 'People are looking at us and what we are doing, but we still have a way to go.'

Speaking to Culture NI in 2014, Walsh felt the time was right for its release. ‘It was film that needed to be made,' she said. 'There is unbelievable work being done on the ground. There are little things you don’t notice, like graffiti going up and being painted out. It is there, all the time.'

The producer also insisted that the film's focus was not on political or religious divides in Northern Ireland, but instead the relationship between an area's graffiti and the spirit of its community.

Together in Pieces will be screened at a prime slot during the Hip Hop Film Festival, a real coup for Walsh and Dryden in reaching such an audience.

'It has been really well received overseas, even though we made it for a Northern Ireland audience. We are really excited about screening the film at this festival, and we are honoured as white people from Northern Ireland to have the film at a festival for black film and music, especially in light of the political situation in the U.S. at the moment.'

The Hip Hop Film Festival 2016 takes place at the National Black Theater in New York City from August 3 - 6.