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Premiere: They, a film about race and identity through poetry

Words: Dylan Murphy
Poetry & Performance: Felispeaks & Jafaris
Director: Ellius Grace
Cinematography: Albert Hooi
Editor: John Cutler
Soundtrack: Fehdah/ with Roisin Dubh
Arranged and performed by John Francis Flynn
Vocal Recording & Mixing – Diffusion Lab
Movement Coach: Tobi Balogun
VFX – Cian McKenna & Colm Moore
Type & Title Design – Liam Morrow
Special Thanks: Motherland, Ross Killeen, George Voronov

We are delighted to premiere They, a new short from director Ellius Grace. Exploring identity in modern Ireland, it is a powerful piece that features interconnected words from Jafaris and Felispeaks.

They is an exploration of race and identity in modern Irish society. It uses the words of Jafaris and Felispeaks as vehicles to examine the role of racism in Irish society through their own experiences. Carefully passing the baton to each other throughout, both Jafaris and Feli craft rhythmic stanzas that draw a line in the sand and look within for the strength to reattain true freedom.

Taking inspiration from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos who was ousted from Greece’s literary community because of his sexuality, Feli quoted his work directly. The words “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds” came directly from his work and speaks to the inequality and injustice that still pervades in the world.

Felispeaks said, “that line has inspired my writing as a queer Black woman; to further discuss racism as I live in a firm intersection.”

Felispeaks by Ellius Grace.

National identity is a complicated and incredibly personal thing for so many people around the world. I feel like the most important thing that we can do in life is to listen to one another and understand the struggles and the joys of people other than ourselves.

Ellius Grace

The tranquil and naturalistic sounds, coupled with the black and white footage of the earthy plains and shaded trees provides a safe space for the pair to thread these truths uninhibited.

Coming together after both Jafaris and Felispeaks penned the personal and intimate poems, they then worked with director Ellius Grace on creating a loose visual narrative.

Following this, Ellius states, “The last step was to bring together an excellent team of Irish artists to morph these words and scenes into a film. The project became a beautiful collaboration between some of the most talented people, all of whom experience Irish identity in a different way.”

Jafaris by Ellius Grace.

Ellius noted, “As a mixed-race person myself (Chinese-Malaysian and Irish), identity and race have always been at the forefront of my life and work. National identity is a complicated and incredibly personal thing for so many people around the world. I feel like the most important thing that we can do in life is to listen to one another and understand the struggles and the joys of people other than ourselves.” 

To watch our previous video premiere, please click here.