Creatives collaborate with film archive to respond to lockdown 2020 poetry series ‘A Silent War’

Footage from Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive adds to a fascinating mix of poetry and music.

A Silent War began as a series of poems written during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. What poet, Ross Thompson has created is a new kind of war poetry, encountering the existential threat posed by the virus as previous generations would have responded to military conflicts.

Ross Thompson invited other poets and writers to collaborate with him by making recordings of this suite of poems, reaching out at a time when Coronavirus, and the rules which were created to contain it, were creating a profound sense of disconnection for many people. Writers recorded poems in their own home and these recordings were shared online to raise funds for Cruse Bereavement Care.

Continuing with the poet’s spirit of generosity and collaboration, Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive continues to invite a range of creative practitioners to respond creatively to these works, using archive footage and additional layers of sound and visual imagery. At every stage, the text of the poems forms the core of the work.

Credit: NI Tourism Ladies Golf at Portrush

Footage from the Digital Film Archive allows the filmmakers to show ways in which the pandemic disrupted social norms, exploring the initial panic and paranoia, and subsequently, the strange, dreamlike isolation that ensued as the population became dislocated by new patterns of behaviour. Within the collection, there is a recurring sense of hope, as for some, the pandemic prompted an appreciation of the small things, and of what the world was like before this seismic occurrence, marking a shift towards new perspectives on life and how to live it.

Find out more on the Silent War project here here

The Silent War project includes other short films featuring archive film




Image credit -Jane O’Brien ISL performance filmed by Stuart Calvin

On Saturday 12th November art deco cinema, The Strand Arts Centre, Belfast hosted a screening and discussion about how poetry, music, archive and film making came together to create A Silent War. The event and project were supported by the Department for Communities.