Untold Stories is a new five-part series profiling the extraordinary work of lesser-known charities. Each film has been directed and produced by professional filmmakers who have volunteered their time to help 25 different causes. Each episode is introduced by Jon Snow.
The series, to be broadcast on Community Channel from Monday 14th May, will be stripped across five weeks at 6.30pm, with each episode made up of five short films.
The first episode opens with The Engine House, a moving film made by Andrew Parry from insert title and company. Based in Dowlais, Myrhyr Tydfil The Engine House was built in 1905 and was once the areas main production house of iron and steel. When production ceased the Engine House was used for various production purposes before the tenacity of Paul Marshallsea gave it a purpose fit for the surrounding community.
Earning Paul the nickname ‘the Terminator’ for never taking no for an answer (“I’ll be back”), The Engine House is now home to a youth facility that offers the young people of Merthyr Tydfil a myriad of activities to keep them off the streets and boost their skills. Paul says “Getting people to believe me was the hardest bit. Someone somewhere had to step up and change the community”. The centre now has over 1,500 members and over 150 young people visiting each night.
This heart-warming mini documentary highlights the power of community spirit and the impact one man’s vision can have on children, families and the local area. Paul says “there was no light at the end of the tunnel for a long, long time. When I first got in there was only me, the rats a lot of pigeons and a lot of water”.
Episode two, broadcasting on Monday 21st May, starts with a powerful and emotive film about Ipswich based charity Iceni, produced and directed by Matt Hopkins title from Progress Films. The charity provides support to those with drug addictions and their families to help them regain control of their lives.
Kirsite worked as a nurse for 15 years before meeting her husband and getting married. Kirstie says “it was a good marriage to start with. When my husband lost his job I slid into an amphetamine addiction so fast you wouldn’t believe it. All I thought about from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed was ‘how can I get sorted today?’”
After five years of a life of addiction Kirstie hit rock bottom and attempted suicide “At the stage I was at I couldn’t envisage ever getting out.” Today Kirstie has turned her life around, thanks to an intensive programme run by Iceni, “they don’t just treat your addiction, they treat your social situation, your whole life. They put my life back together.” The short documentary provides an insight into the invaluable work on organisations like Iceni.
Episode three, on Monday 28th May, begins with London Gay Men's Chorus made by David Hewitt. This charming film examines how London’s openly gay men’s choir challenge preconceptions across the capital. Using vocal workshops and professional training the chorus visits a primary school in Stoke Newington and a school made up of children with disabilities to challenge prejudice and break down barriers. Through the film an audience sees how the power of music can break down boundaries, bring people together and provide real joy to the young people involved.
Handel House Museum starts the fourth episode of Untold Stories on Monday 4th June, made with the expertise of professional filmmaker Sukey Richardson from title please Lux Monkey, about a Museum dedicated to the life of George Frideric Handel and its partnership with the RNIB.
Handel, most famous for his most famous for his English oratorio, Messiah, lost his sight seven years before he died and it had profound influence on his work. The museum aims to bring back to life the space where Handle had his rehearsals and today runs tours and programmes for partially sighted musicians. This enlightening short shows how the Handel House Museum has transformed the lives of so many young people by providing the tools necessary to allow them to compose music.
The fifth and final episode of the Untold Stories series starts with Hi Kent, a short film made under the guidance of Louis Carre from, broadcasting on Monday 11th June. The charity provides information, assessment and provision of equipment to deafened and hard of hearing people in Kent.
One in seven people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing and age related hearing loss affects over half of the UK population over 60. In this moving short film we hear from Ena Stanes, 93, who in her younger years trekked to base camp Everest. Ena says “It does isolate you. I think that’s the worst thing about hearing loss. It’s alright when you’re one to one, you can usually manage. It’s when you’re in a group, you just drop out.”
The commitment and effort of the Hi Kent volunteers helps people like Ena maintain an active life, and beat social isolation through the provision of free hearing aid aftercare services, lip reading and BSLT classes. Ena says “In the classes you’re encouraged to be almost a bit aggressive. It gives you confidence to say’ look I’m deaf please look at me!’ Because of the classes I can manage to do my shopping and go out into the community.”
Untold Stories will be shown on Community Channel, which broadcasts on Sky (539), Virgin TV (233) and Freeview (87) commencing on Monday 14th May 2012 at 6.30pm.