Richard Moore’s friendship with the Dalai Lama and Derry’s Sikh congregation feature in a new film that’s been produced by pupils of Shimna Integrated College in Co. Down, following a recently completed spiritual journey around the North.
The idea for ‘Religious Voices’ originated when students of the Newcastle school wrote a letter of support to the Muslim community in the North via the Belfast Islamic Centre after being angered by a rise in anti-Islamic bigotry in the wake of the Paris terror attacks of 2015.
Pupils travelled all over the North visiting the leaders of various minority faith groups in their places of worship to find out more about their experiences.
It was perhaps inevitable that the resultant documentary was somewhat Derrycentric .
John McCloskey, Head of Religious and Integrated Studies, at the Newcastle school, hails from the Foyle Road originally.
Mr. McCloskey explained: “We met with the leaders of Buddhism, the Baha’i faith, Judaism, Sikhism, Islam and Hinduism and interviewed Richard Moore, founder of Children in Crossfire, about his friendship with the Dalai Lama; poet Gráinne Tobin about her atheism; and Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International.
“As well as interviewing Richard at the Peace Bridge in Derry, we were also welcomed to the Sikh Gurdwara on Simpson’s Brae on two occasions.
“As I am from the Foyle Road my poor students had to suffer through many lectures on the three hour journey from Newcastle about why Derry is the centre of the universe,” joked Mr. McCloskey.
The documentary was professionally made and produced by the Derry-based filmographer Paul Martin Brown and the project was funded and supported by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).
A copy of the DVD and guide will be sent to every integrated post-primary school in the North in order to help with the teaching of minority beliefs. Over 80 students applied and were interviewed to be part of the project team and 12 were chosen to organise, coordinate, script and help produce the documentary, which was launched last week.
The filmmakers strongly believe the documentary will prove beneficial to their fellow integrated schools as well as anyone else who would like to use it to gain a better understanding of the North’s religious diversity.