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Young filmmakers tell Home truths about Newcastle


The red carpet was rolled out for three young filmmakers when their work was premiered last Friday.

Their short films, funded by Newcastle University, were shown on the big screen for the first time at Settle Down Café in Newcastle city centre.

Each documentary was made as part of the University’s Home project and looks at an aspect of life in Newcastle and what home means. The trio worked closely with city-based Veto Films to film, produce and edit their work.

One film by first-time filmmakers Sarunas Zaronaitis, 19, and Zeeshan Akram, 18, looks at the life of a homeless man on the streets of the city, while another film by them contrasts the differences between the rich and poor in Newcastle.

Sarunas, who is originally from Lithuania and studying in Newcastle, and Zeeshan, from Fenham, got the idea for their first film when they were walking round the city centre looking for inspiration.

"We just got talking to Tony, the homeless man we featured while we were looking around," said Sarunas.

"He was happy to be interviewed so we just let him tell his story. We wanted to show a side of life in Newcastle that a lot of people might not see."

Zeeshan said making their second film, The Other Side of the Envelope was an eye-opener. "I’ve lived in Newcastle all my life," he said. "And I think it is a great place to live and better than most other cities. But I was shocked at some of the places we saw when we were looking for poorer parts of the city to film."

The third documentary, by 28-year-old Lauris Brr, focuses on the story of the Bad Taste Cru dancers, who are based at Dance City. The company originally started in Omagh, Northern Ireland, but moved to Newcastle after one of its members came to Newcastle to study.

Lauris said: "When I moved to Newcastle I only knew one person and he was from Lithuania and is in Bad Taste Cru. I’m a dancer too and I wanted to show that when you dance, it doesn’t matter where you are, you are home because nothing else matters at that time.

"I’ve lived in Newcastle for more than a year and I do think of it as home. It is a beautiful city and the people are kind here."

Lauris’s film will be shown on the big screen at the Monument, during August, while all three films will be screened at Dance City in November.

The documentaries have been shown at Newcastle City Library and have been on show throughout Newcastle University’s graduation celebrations. They are also due to be entered into a number of film festivals this summer.

The University’s Home project uses arts and culture to help us understand what home means to different people. The films ask big questions about society which are being posed during the launch year of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, which funded the documentaries.

Professor Guy Austin, Director of the Centre for Research in Film and Digital Media, set up the project. He said: "We wanted to get young people looking at the city they live in, in a different way. This project gave them the chance to learn and develop their filmmaking skills and to come up with ideas about how they wanted to portray Newcastle. They also got the chance to come to our University and find out more about us and what we do here.
"What we've ended up with are three very different, very assured and very good films which take a sideways look at this city. I am absolutely delighted with what they have achieved."

Yacine Helali from Veto Films said: "They didn’t want to tell the stories that are told about this city – the ones that are about football and about drinking and so on. They wanted to show different sides to living in this city and what that means. The films they have made are fantastic and we are very proud to have worked with them."

published on: 13 July 2012