Young Welsh Gypsies to make new film

6 September 2010

Young residents of a Gypsy and Traveller site in Cardiff are to make a film about their lives thanks to a grant from BBC Children in Need.

Animation company Cinetig will spend 10 weeks working with youngsters on the Shirenewton site leading to a public performance of their work.

Cinetig previously worked with Gypsies and Travellers in west Wales to produce an animated film.

Work on the Shirenewton project is due to start in January 2011.

Gerald Conn, managing director of Cinetig, said: "Children often surpass their own expectations when they see the finished animation.

"The one-to-one approach that we are able to bring with a project like this raises the self esteem of all the children involved."

Traditional storytellers, youth workers and film makers will work with the youngsters over a period of ten weeks culminating in a public performance of their work designed to educate others about the history of the Traveller community in Wales.

The young people will follow all of the stages of the filmmaking process - researching, scripting, storyboarding, animation production and post production alongside professional film-makers and will create their own artwork and designs for the film.

Isaac Blake of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company, who created the Cardiff event, welcomed the £18,696 grant as a way of boosting self-esteem and breaking down barriers with the settled community.

A Gypsy from the Shirenewton site himself, Isaac has built a career as a dancer and choreographer and wants to encourage creativity in others.

"This project will allow young Gypsies and Travellers to research their own culture, develop a sense of pride in that culture as we demonstrate its importance to us as outsiders by committing it to film," he said.

"In the process we hope that they will become less tolerant of discrimination as they recognise their own value and self worth."

Cinetig has won a number of awards for its community films in recent years including first prizes at festivals in Chicago, Ottawa and Bradford.

The partners behind the project hope to secure additional funding to take the project onto Newport and Swansea in the future.

In 2005 Cinetig worked with youngsters in Monkton, Pembrokeshire and Bynea, Carmarthenshire to make a short film about their Gypsy heritage. The Travelling Harpists tells the story of the Wood family who, in the past, brought their music and way of life to Wales.