Documentary showing life in Northern towns post-Brexit to premiere at Leeds International Film Festival

A former asylum seeker from Eritrea trying to root himself in Middlesborough. A Pakistani immigrant mourning the passing of his father in Wakefield. A Halifax resident determined to make sure the voices of her community are heard. These are just three of the stories told in a new documentary offering an intimate portrait of life in Northern towns post-Brexit.

The work of filmmaker Lucy Kaye, From Where We Stand explores people’s relationships with where they’ve come from, what they’ve left behind and where they live.

Set to premiere at the Leeds International Film Festival this week, the 60-minute documentary shares insight from residents in Wakefield, Halifax and Middlesbrough on how they feel about their lives and communities.

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Life in the areas post-Brexit is a constant theme, along with social and economic deprivation, community divisions and the ways in which people find a sense of belonging.

Polish emigrant Stella from Wakefield (surname withheld) courtesy of Lucy Kaye.Polish emigrant Stella from Wakefield (surname withheld) courtesy of Lucy Kaye.
Polish emigrant Stella from Wakefield (surname withheld) courtesy of Lucy Kaye.

“I want the film to bring these themes alive through encounters between myself and the people who live in these towns, to hear from those whose stories aren’t part of the mainstream narrative,” says Lucy.

Her film has been made in collaboration with the Northern Exposure research project at the University of Leeds. The study examines the implications of Brexit on disaffection, identity, race relations, new migrations and Northerners’ sense of place and belonging.

Both the film and the study were funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of a programme of research into the UK’s changing relationship with the European Union.

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The research team from the School of Social Policy focused in on neighbourhoods in Halifax, Wakefield, Preston and Middlesbrough. They spoke to residents about personal and family life histories, economic and social change, relations with newcomers from different ethnic and racial groups, and their political feelings during a momentous period in British history.

"Uniquely, our research captures the voices of different ethnic and minority groups,” explains lead researcher Professor Adrian Favell.

“It is one of the largest qualitative studies ever of Asian British people in the North, of the much less numerous Northern Black British people in the wake of Windrush scandal, as well as the views of said-to-be "left behind" White British people in deprived neighbourhoods and more affluent suburban locations.”

“Lucy’s film resonates fully with our research,” he adds. “Both challenging and emotional, it captures the lives of people affected by the aftermath of Brexit, against the backdrop of three key Northern locations.”

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From Where We Stand will be shown at the Howard Assembly Room, at Leeds Opera House, at 6pm on Friday, November 10 and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker and participants of the film in the audience.