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A Magazine for Sheffield

"Personal, powerful and deeply moving": Young People Together

This beautifully crafted and uplifting film charts the journey of a group of young Sheffield migrants who build connection and community through creative expression.

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Young People Together.

Premiering at the Workstation as part of Migration Matters, Young People Together follows a group of young migrants in Sheffield in the process of building an arts-based community. They're part of the safe space created by Stand & Be Counted Theatre (SBC), led by inspiring director Rosie MacPherson. Directed by Sean Lovell, the film has a structure that alternates between individual voices, where interviews form the narration, and high-energy scenes of group activities. The camera moves effortlessly between close-ups of individuals and wider shots of the group, echoing the integration achieved by these young people while at SBC.

Initial activities are a way of introduction – few group members have the same native language – and are also trust-building exercises. At one point, the young people are standing in a circle trying to catch balls that are coming from different directions.

The message here is that mistakes don't always matter, and that, to quote MacPherson in one of the subsequent exercises, "your way is the right way". Although the film does not explore individual back stories, there is some reflection on how challenging life became when first arriving in the city. This is contrasted with the sense of acceptance the young people now have from belonging to the group.

Through a series of workshops in drama, dance and poetry, these young people discover a voice that’s personal, powerful and deeply moving. There’s an awareness of the privilege of expression: "We are saying what others can’t", reflects one group member. "We are the voice of a thousand people."

Sheffield is a character in the film too, observed to be a place where people are friendly and possibly more accepting of difference than some other cities. "It is the heart of the UK" enthuses one of the young people. The joy and laugher provoked by some of the movement and dance exercises is prevalent throughout the film. One group member remarks that, "Movement is everything", and another adds, "Whilst I move, I live". This has a poignant resonance with the journeys that have brought them to this place.

In a moving scene that's central to the film, the group read out poems they've written. The reader is flanked by two or three others, acting as witnesses. Their mobile phone torches provide the dramatic lighting – the haunting effect is that of a vigil. As conflict and division become increasingly present in our world, this engaging, emotionally intelligent film demonstrates the potential for finding empowerment and sanctuary within the shelter of each other.

Director: Sean Lovell, producers: Thea Shahrokh and Asma Kabadeh, cast: YPT group

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