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This is the story of teenage girls Mairéad Mc Ilkenny and Christine Savage, growing up in post-war Belfast. Two strong, young women with their everyday life struggles - sharing the legacy of 30 years of conflict - but living as in different worlds, in the same city but cut off from each other by high walls. This year their lives will take turns they never in their wildest dreams could imagine...
This is the story of teenage girls Mairéad Mc Ilkenny and Christine Savage, growing up in post-war Belfast. Two strong, young women with their everyday life struggles, living as in different worlds in the same city, cut off from each other by many high walls.
Mairéad is 20 years old and has grown up in a Catholic enclave. She stands looking out over her home, seeing all the walls around her. Childhood memories of brutal arrests of her father at night and a constant fear for her life mix with wonderings what the “other side” looks like. She has never gotten to know a Protestant in her entire life – until the day her flatmate starts a new relationship. Suddenly “the other side” has moved into her house.
Christine is Protestant and walks on the other side of the walls with her pram and young daughter. She is 18 years old and wishes most of all that her baby will have more choices when she grows up.
Christine dreams about a house of her own and a boy to love. When she finally finds him - he’s a Catholic.
Swedish director Malin Andersson follows the lives of these young women. Barbed wire and sandbags from the early days of the war in Northern Ireland have long since become permanent walls. The “peacewalls” keep the two communities apart creating divisions as brutal as ever, nearly a decade into the peace process. The legacy to the young generation is clear. You don’t mix.
Belfast Girls is a film about two girls courage to do things their own way and about the strength that comes from love.
I'm the luckiest woman in Britain - I have seen Belfast Girls!
Watching BELFAST GIRLS, I felt like a Kalahari tribesman watching National Geographic hey, these guys have come to my country and they´re putting it on screen like it was something odd or exotic!
Growing up the UK, it´s always seemed perfectly normal to me that Belfast is split by high barbed-wire Peacewalls´. Malin Andersson´s Swedish eye has allowed me to look at my own country with new eyes: Belfast, I have to admit, can be a pretty bizarre city.
Andersson attacks all the themes you´d expect sectarianism, violence, the prospects for peace but sneaks up on them all in a refreshingly oblique and intelligent way. As Northern Ireland´s peace process approaches its adolescence, the film follows two Belfast adolescents for an entire year. They´re working-class teenage girls obsessed with the usual teenage things - make-up, boyfriends, arguments with their Mums. Mairéad is Catholic, Christine is Protestant. It´s tellingly clear that Christine and Mairéad have so much more in common than they have differences, but the point is never laboured.
Cutting between their stories on either side of the barbed wire, BELFAST GIRLS teases out its themes with delicacy. You can hear the effort in the girls´ voices as they struggle to explain to a foreigner the rules of Belfast life, the meaning to them of traditions handed down by their grandparents. It´s particularly poignant in the case of Mairéad, when we learn that her granddad was locked up by the Brits for decades, in a notorious miscarriage of justice. Mairéad¹s eyes shine when she talks about how much fun she had in a riot against British troops, as if she was talking about a wild night out in at a club.
Andersson achieves a startling intimacy with the characters, who seem to treat the camera like a sort of family pet. We're invited not only into the girls´ homes but even into their beds. I can´t tell you the twist in the story without ruining it for you if you get a chance to watch the film yourself. (Fortunately there is no cheesy storyline of the two girls meeting, this is genuine observational documentary.) But I can tell you that by the end of the year, both Belfast girls end up in a place they´d never expected; and you´ll feel more optimistic about sectarianism than you did when the film started.
The press kit contains high-res images, synopsis, subtitles, graphics, credits, music cue sheet etc.
Download the kit as a zip-file: