Lucinda Cary Writes About The Creation of Sisters’ Ring

In the summer of 2017, not long after Pete Courtie had taken over as CEO of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, I met with him to discuss the possibility of running two Shootstraight projects at the centre, and screening the resulting films at the cinema there. The first of these projects was to be aimed at engaging Muslim girls and women.

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Shootstraight is a youth and community voice film project I have been running since 2012 to seek out overlooked talent and capture the voices of diverse communities in short devised dramas. The Shootstraight project aims to promote the voices of communities that, for one reason or another, go unheard. I feel that the voice of British Muslim women is one that we simply don’t hear enough, and my fear is that in its absence, stereotypes and misconceptions proliferate. Working together with girls and women from the Muslim community in Tottenham was my own way of countering that.

When I start work with a new group, it is very important to me to come in with a completely blank slate, and do my best to respond to the material that emerges during the workshop in as uncomplicated a way as possible. That means attempting to identify and dismiss my own agendas when they arise, and simply respond to things that, one way or another, resonate with me, usually for their humanity or their humour. Working with the participants, I try to bring these moments into some kind of narrative alignment that becomes the basis for the short film.

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This was the first time I have run a single sex Shootstraight project and that, in its own way, I think, played a part  in deciding the resulting material. Certain themes found their way to the surface in the games, improvisations, and imaginative journeys that are part of the Shootstraight devising process. Notably, the sense of a community with its own strongly held set of values finding a way to move forward in uncertain and changing times.

After three consecutive Saturdays of working together with the group in one of the Centre’s dance studios, we spent another long and freezing cold Saturday filming with our small camera and sound crew of three.  The professionalism and patience of the cast was striking, and at the end of the day, and so the end of our time working together, I felt oddly moved at the sense of intimacy that came from working creatively with a group of girls and women with whom I wonder if I would have otherwise crossed paths in this diverse but not always unified city of ours.

— Lucinda Cary

Shootstraight is a youth and community voice film project, directed by filmmaker Lucinda Cary, that seeks out overlooked talent, and captures the voices of diverse communities in short devised dramas, providing a much needed platform from which predominantly young people speak truth to power.