Voices of the New Belfast at Stormont #CRWeek15

A Kirsten Kearney J September 21, 2015
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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 film-making charity, ESC, ( the project drew from individuals across Belfast 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 film-makers Stuart Sloan, Jonny Agnew and Gerard Stewart.

On Monday 28th September at 6pm, a special film screening at Stormont’s Long Gallery will kick off 2015’s Community Relations and Cultural Awareness week in style with professional portrait photography from Grzegorz Gabrys, whose wife Edyta features in the film, and music by Contemporary music composer and sound designer Przemek Straus who has just finished an MA in Sonic Arts at QUB. 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, who was one of the inspirations behind this film project.

She 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. Given the recent surge in race hate crimes in this part of the city and some of the negative publicity around foreign nationals in our society, we believe this positive work is much needed. It 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.”

If you can’t make it, you can watch all the films and join the discussions at

Free tickets are still available for the screening at

This project, delivered by the award-winning Belfast film charity, ESC ( is funded by Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department and the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant and Diversity Grant.

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