Little Stranger, a film focused on the plight of unaccompanied child migrants, is to be gifted by young dancers to their community during Refugee Week 2022.
The production of the film was supported by Community Relations Council NI through its Small Grants Scheme; and also with support from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
On 22 June, during Refugee Week 2022, the three producing companies – Powerstone, Tinderbox and DU Dance NI – in partnership with Dungannon Youth Resource Centre, will present a special intimate screening of Little Stranger in the town where the film was shot.
This deeply affecting short film was performed by young members of Sutemos and Suteminis, two multi-cultural youth dance groups based in Dungannon, County Tyrone, a town which has welcomed families from many countries and encouraged them to build new lives.
The dancers, who are aged between eight and sixteen years, have family roots in Lithuania, Poland, East Timor, Portugal and Dungannon. The film was shot on location in and around the girls’ hometown and this screening offers them the opportunity to present it back to their own community, as a gesture of appreciation.
The event will be centred on the young people and their experience of being an integral part of a film project, working alongside a professional creative team: director, choreographer, writer, composer, cameraman, editor.
Plight of young people
While some performers come from families of migrant workers, they are all acutely aware of the plight of young people of their age, who arrive in Northern Ireland, often alone, fleeing war, persecution and poverty in search of safety, sanctuary and official recognition.
The event will comprise the screening of the film, together with a facilitated workshop, involving young local people and invited guests. They will consider issues arising from the Little Stranger project, which began shortly before the first Covid lockdown in February 2020.
Also in attendance will be a group of professionals, who work, in a variety of roles, with young refugees or asylum seekers. They include a Pakistani PhD student on a Global Minds scholarship, who has moved to Northern Ireland. She has worked with marginalised communities and refugee communities in her native country and teaches trauma and resilience in children at the University of Edinburgh.
The concept for the Little Stranger project began with an encounter in Paris between the writer Jane Coyle and a refugee family:
“On a cold winter night in 2018, I stopped to speak with a refugee family, huddled against the railings of the luxurious George V Hotel near the Arc de Triomphe,” says Coyle.
“As I said my goodbyes, the little girl held out her hand, with a smile that could have lit up the city. I will never forget the touch of that small, warm hand, dry with dirt from the street. I conceived Little Stranger for her and for millions of children and their families, relying for survival on the kindness of strangers.”
Global human experience
Director Patrick J. O’Reilly and choreographer Sheena Kelly (director of Sutemos and Suteminis) have created a powerful, non-narrative dance-theatre portrayal of a global human experience, which is sadly becoming increasingly urgent.
The little stranger of the title is portrayed by a small, faceless paper doll, who is found blowing in the wind on a railway line and offered protection and refuge by her new friends.
The production of the film was supported by Community Relations Council NI and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
This project has been supported by The Executive Office, funded through its District Council Good Relations Program in partnership with Mid Ulster District Council.
The producers wish to thank Dungannon Youth Resource Centre for its ongoing support to DU Dance’s Sutemos and Suteminis youth engagement programmes and its provision of the venue for this event.
Date of event: 22 June 2022
Venue: Dungannon Youth Resource Centre
For further information, interviews and photographs, please contact:
Jane Coyle on 07803 162075 or firstname.lastname@example.org