North East Connected

Young filmmakers tackle hard truths in a series of moving documentaries screened at Tyneside Cinema

The films for Northern Stars Documentary Academy 2017 have taken inspiration in part from Freedom City 2017, a programme that marks the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr being awarded an honorary degree from Newcastle University.
Freedom City aims to empower and inspire a new generation, stimulate academic debate and create an artistic response to three themes – war, poverty and racism – which Dr King identified as the three evils of society in his honorary degree acceptance speech at Newcastle University .
Fifteen young filmmakers worked at Tyneside Cinema’s Pop Up Film School throughout summer and autumn 2016 to develop their knowledge and skills. They shot their documentaries, mentored by industry professionals, in October and have since then gone through the process of cutting their films into their finished form.
The films have recently been premiered at Tyneside Cinema where they received a rapturous response from family, friends and industry professionals. The finished films will now be entered into festivals in the UK and beyond. 
The  Northern  Stars  Documentary  Academy has been made possible by the support of intu, who co-owns intu  Eldon Square in  Newcastle and intu Metrocentre in  Gateshead. The Academy is now a key part of intu’s corporate responsibility strategy, focusing on support for young people in the North East.
An annual programme delivered at Tyneside Cinema, Northern Stars Documentary Academy aims to give young people across the region an opportunity to develop new skills in filmmaking, ignite in them a lifelong passion for film and develop key employability skills. The Academy is open to 15-18 year olds from the North East and is completely free of charge. Previous participants have used their experience from the programme to gain entrance to university or as part of a portfolio to get work in the film industry.
The films are:
Out –This intimate film explores the challenges individuals face when emerging into the LGBT community. Funny, candid and moving, four interwoven stories reveal how recent national and international events have cast a shadow on progress made in the last 40 years.
Oasis – The Oasis Café in west end of Newcastle provides a much-needed hub for a local community impacted by government cuts. Here we meet three customers who share personal stories that are by turns tragic and life-affirming and whose regular visits to the café reveal its importance in holding a community together.
Ashleigh – A moving portrait of one woman’s struggle to pursue her life-long passion of becoming a dancer. Born with cerebral palsy, and told as a child that she would never be able to study or work in the mainstream, Ashleigh refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and today is an inspiration to others.
Being British – a series of five short portraits of people’s attitudes toward Britain and being British today.
The films are available to view at:
Jack Davidson, director/producer of Oasis, said:
“I think the experience has helped me realise the types of things that go into the making of films. It’s helped me get better at some things that I already knew but I’ve also learned a whole lot of new things along the way. Tyneside Cinema’s been really helpful and supportive in all this and I’m really proud of the work that we’ve made.”
Francesca Colpitts-Swaby, director of Ashleigh, added:
“It’s been a crazy experience and it’s been really tough, but it’s all worked out in the end and I’ve loved every second of it. In the future I’d like to go to University and make as many films as possible and enter them into competitions – and hopefully win an Oscar!”
Thomas Peutz, chief executive of Tyneside Cinema, commented:
“Our young filmmakers have worked extremely hard over the autumn to produce these four striking, illuminating and moving short documentaries, which we are proud to present here at our Pop-Up Film School . Now in its fourth year, Northern Stars Documentary Academy continues to go from strength to strength, and as ever we are hugely grateful to intu for their vital support.”
Alexander Nicoll, intu’s corporate responsibility director, said: 
“Once again intu is proud to partner with Tyneside Cinema and the fantastic group of young filmmakers who have let their creativity and humanity shine through the four films which have been the culmination of a great deal of hard work and dedication.”
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