The Troubles seen through young eyes

A new generation of filmmakers, musicians and artists are emerging throughout Derry and the North West. One of them is Derry filmmaker David McIntyre, 23. His new documentary ‘We Shall Overcome’ focuses on the Civil Rights Movement and the roots of our conflicted past.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 7:46 pm

“I’m very passionate about my city, I always have been,” said David. “The representation was kind of the key focus for this film, because most representations of Derry don’t go far.

“Even in Derry Girls, only two out of the 13 main cast are from Derry. So the importance of representing the city is key, and trying to capture people’s likeness is very important.

“Especially because it’s been censored for so many years.” David was born in 1998, the same year of the Good Friday Agreement and the beginning of the peace process in NI.

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He says he has heard some “jaw dropping stories,” whilst learning about the history in Derry.

“I’ve always felt as a young person in the town that I haven’t contributed enough, and that kind of guilt comes along with me,” he said.

“I thought, well, I’m very legible within film, why not kind of return something to the city that this city has gifted to me.

So I contacted Adrian Kerr, who is the curator down at the Museum of Free Derry. He set up most of it. People like John Kelly and Jean Hegarty came in and talked about the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign.

“It’s very impactful and the content is so Derry. It’s about how people carry themselves in their natural habitat, and they deliver some absolutely jaw dropping stories that you would never think are in this city.”

David’s love for film began at a young age. He has been studying the artform since his days as a pupil in St. Columb’s College.

David went on to complete a degree at Magee, before finishing his masters with Queen’s University, Belfast.

“I always grew up watching films with my da and my family,” he said.

“There’s not many avenues or opportunities in the North West. All opportunities like education and the arts stops at the (river) Bann, as much as everything else.

“Especially in Derry, growing up in working class surroundings, you need to get a good job and a job that will do you. It’s really hard to think about the arts and to think of reassurance.

“I didn’t even realise until I was 16 or 17, it kind of struck a chord with me, and I really realised that I love making entertainment.

“I just love seeing people affected by stories. From there I went and did my undergrad in Cinematic Arts and then the Masters in Queens.

“Now I’m just working as a video technician in Magee. The opportunity arose for me to do something like this.”

We Shall Overcome was screened for the very first time during the 34th Foyle Film Festival last week.

The documentary has a runtime of 47 minutes.

David says that he would like to see people get more “active and motivated,” in embracing the history of Derry.

“Censorship is always a big thing, especially when you’re from the North West,” said David.

“You’re kind of just pushed to the side and kind of forgotten about, just like Bloody Sunday was, and what the British Government were doing, and still are doing to this day.

“Our people need to hear our voices. Especially whilst researching this, I’ve always heard stories from my parents and grandparents about the Troubles and Bloody Sunday; but you never get the full scope.

“So going through this process was educating myself, as much as documenting it to educate other people too.

“Going into the museum transports you into a different realm.

“Seeing an uncensored version of Derry’s history and seeing the truth, it’s a key point to this documentary. The documentary is 47 minutes long.

“I think that was the most appropriate time because not too long, not too short, it just gets to the point and people can tell their stories properly.”

The documentary features archival photographs and footage of life in Derry during the 1960s and 1970s.

David shot, edited, mixed and colour-graded We Shall Overcome.

He believes this film could be shown in schools and screened at more accessible places.

“It is an educational piece, and I feel it really speaks through to Derry’s history,” he said.

“So people would really benefit from seeing this in multiple places, and more accessible places too.

“On a Wednesday, midday at Magee, not everyone’s going to be able to attend. I would love to take it around schools, air it in the town, and even take it further.

I’m going to look into a few film festivals and documentary shorts. I’ll enter into them and see the craic.”

For more information on We Shall Overcome, you can visit David’s Twitter account:

@FilmsMacker, or Instagram page