Voices Film Premieres on YouTube

Film backing Derry/Londonderry's City of Culture bid released

Over images of a city at dawn in timelapse we hear the voice of Seamus Heaney reading from 'Cure at Troy':

History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

This is how Voices, the official film produced to support the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 bid, begins. The film, produced by the award-winning Nerve Centre and shot by BAFTA-winning cameraman Mark McCauley, embodies the hope of the city in its desire to become the first UK City of Culture.

Snow Patrol gave the bid partners permission to use 'Just Say Yes' as the anthem for the campaign for UK City of Culture and the song is the perfect match for the visuals. Snow Patrol’s frontman Gary Lightbody was born in Bangor, but his family originate from Derry~Londonderry. Lightbody believes that the city would be a fantastic venue for the UK City of Culture 2013.

'Derry~Londonderry is a vibrant, warm and creative city and its cultural life has always thrived,' Lightbody said. 'Being shortlisted for UK City of Culture in 2013 confirms what many of us have known all along; that culture is at Derry~Londonderry’s heart. The city has an exciting future ahead and I can’t think of anywhere that deserves to win this accolade more.'

Gary is well-versed with the city’s rich cultural history.

'Derry~Londonderry has a number of times set the standard for the arts in Northern Ireland. The Undertones wrote apolitical anthems for the youth of Ireland at a time when we needed an escape from politics and religion the most. The Nerve Centre was in Derry~Londonderry and highly functional and creative long before we set up the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast. It was the inspiration for us when we were setting the centre up.'

The film has 42 separate scenes and features 28 individuals delivering lines to the camera with contributions from internationally renowned visual artist Willie Doherty and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. Willie Doherty can be seen on the Craigavon Bridge quoting a line from his own work in a visual set-up inspired by his Turner-nominated art.

John Peto, writer/director of Voices, said: 'I was delighted to have the opportunity to make this film as a way to capture the passion, energy and creativity of the city and its people and in particular the groundswell of public support that has been generated around the campaign for UK City of Culture within the last few months.

'I hope that this film visually communicates the people, place, past and future with a positive articulation that a successful city of culture bid will be transformative for the city.'

The main cultural content was filmed over one weekend in May at the One World Festival and the Carnivale of Colours organized by Seeds and In Your Space performing arts company respectively. The film not only captures the beauty of the city but also gifted young performers such as The Wonder Villains who recently played at Radio 1's Big Weekend and Meadbh McGinley, a 14 year old pianist, singer, and composer from the city.

A highlight of the film is 'Bane', a professional free runner, jumping from a piece of public art in Lincoln Courts before delivering his line. The public art that he jumps from was installed under the Re-imaging Communities programme, replacing a loyalist mural.

Derry City Council’s director of development, Oonagh McGillion, who was part of the city’s 10-strong pitch-team in Merseyside and saw the reaction of the judges to Voices, says the video is extremely powerful because it allowed the people of the city to speak directly about why the City of Culture designation should come to their home town.

'The great strength of the Derry-Londonderry bid has been the people of the city, and it’s the fact that it is the people of the city who deliver the message in the Voices’ film that makes it so moving. Given the fact that it was the people of the city who, through this film, have been the most eloquent ambassadors for the City of Culture bid it is only proper that they have this opportunity to see how they themselves represented the city to the judging panel in Liverpool,' she said.

Nerve Centre chief executive, Pearse Moore, said that the Nerve Centre had been happy to play their part in the pitch process through the production of Voices.

'The Nerve Centre was delighted to have  the opportunity to play a role in creating something for our city’s pitch to become UK City of Culture 2013. Hopefully when the people of the city have the opportunity to view the film they will agree that we have done justice, not only to their city, but to the citizens of Derry themselves,' he said.

The film is bookended with Seamus Heaney again reading from 'Cure at Troy' and closes with Rebecca Ramsey in her screen debut delivering the lines that capture the voice of a city:

I have a new story to tell.
I need to tell a new story.
Just Say Yes!

Rebecca looks directly at the camera smiling and it’s difficult not to agree. JUST SAY YES!

The film can be viewed on the Nerve Centre’s You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/user/thenervecentre.