A collaboration of footage capturing life in Salford under lockdown was premiered on Youtube in late November. 

The short film, Festival in My Neighbourhood, was created by east Salford residents and produced by Salford-based studio Paradise Works.

People were asked to record their experiences via video or audio and send to the studio. The final edit was live-streamed on the Manchester International Festival youtube channel.

“Initially, Festival in My Neighbourhood was not supposed to be a film,” says Dannielle Swindells, a Salford filmmaker who led the project.

She said: “The plan was to bring Manchester a physical film making workshop at weekends. We wanted a community event bringing Paradise Works and the East-Salford residents together.

“But then covid came along so we had to improvise.”

Swindells decided to ask Salford residents to get creative and film or record moments in their life during lockdown.

“No one could be together physically,” Swindells continued.

“So we had to reimagine doing things with the local community. Everyone can contribute digitally. Most people have a mobile phone can record their experience,” she said.

“We took a leap of faith but we were confident in everyone’s ability to stick together. The open call was at the end of July.

“A big part of it was a waiting game. It’s not knowing what the responses would be. But east-Salford really showed up with over 150 submissions.

“People could contribute digitally by using their mobile phones. Others used VHS footage(Video Home System). Some people even sent poetry as written content. Those people were asked to send it recorded.

“I had to use everything which was challenging and the editing process was very long.

“It was difficult to make everything aesthetically go together. Everyone’s creativity should be celebrated.

“You could see people reconnected with the landscape. For example, some footage showed people celebrating the NHS by clapping.

“They reconnected with the tranquillity in their own lives while the world was in chaos.

“I think the film could be used as an imprint of 2020 for future generations to come. People will be able to look back at this in 5-10 years time and see what life was like during the coronavirus pandemic. It can be used for reflection.”

Engagement Manager for MIF, Andrew Westle, spent time working with the people of the Salford community who submitted their work.

“It is based on submissions from the community,” he said. “People who live and breathe this part of the world – this film is only possible as a result of the diversity of these submissions in communities with people to shape the outcomes of creative projects.

“A significant part of our work takes place in communities, spending time with people in places, they live, work and socialise.

“Due to COVID restrictions, the majority of the outreach for this project was digital. As a result, it was quite difficult to meet people that are new to MIF, or people that might have read the poster and thought that the project was not for them.

“We believe that arts and culture is for everyone, but sometimes you need to be there to give people that in-person encouragement to get involved.

“Festival in My Neighbourhood is a part of our year round offer of work, and normally takes place in person. We reimagined this project for COVID times as a digital version.

“The film is an important snapshot in time, based in one small part of the world, preserving the stories and experiences of people in Salford for generations to come.

“We can’t wait until we can screen this unique film in person and invite people to come together to share what they have created in isolation. This film will be one that we will be able to look back on in a few years time as a unique time in our lives.”

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