In Events

Stories We Tell was a project dreamed up by director and writer, Parvez Qadir, as a way to celebrate his hometown of Rochdale. Parvez, founder of Breaking Barriers, is devoted to uncovering stories from the community and using interdisciplinary art forms such as film, animation, visual imagery, soundscape and audio to tell stories in unconventional spaces to connect audiences to an immersive experience.  Upon receiving the commission from Manchester Independents and support from Touchstones, he set out to unearth the stories of the people that choose to call Rochdale their home. His mission was to create ‘a love letter to Rochdale’ that breaks any negative preconceptions that people might have about the town and shines a light on the people, the nature, the raw beauty and the love that seeps through its streets. It explores the ways in which people’s memories, life events and experiences are embedded in the very walls and streets of a place, rooted in its very soil.

Stories we tell

In the summer of 2021, the creative team took to the wards of Deeplish and Milkstone, diverse communities with over 50 languages spoken, to chat to the people who live and work in the heart of the communities. Most of them knew Parvez by name and we wouldn’t get far without meeting another fascinating person who wanted to chat with us and tell their story.

Building the piece

After months of work in the communities, 12 stories from 12 people were chosen, which highlighted the rich diversity of the people of Rochdale. The stories were recorded, listened to over and over, and finally over 12 hours of footage was edited down into a 25 minute binaural sound piece. Our sound engineer, Ed Waring, allowed us to explore the aspect of binaural sound and have fun playing with the sounds of the streets, the sewing machine, the rustling of leaves and the passing of a buzzing bee. Once the sound was finalised, our musician Jaydev Mistry worked his magic by underlaying a beautiful score of world music and our film-maker Kirstie Henderson created 3 films rich in colour, texture, fabric, history, detail, and emotion to be shown at different points along the walk.

The guided walk

On 5 dark evenings in October 2021, we invited people of the communities to come and see/hear these stories come to life on the very streets that they walk every day. We asked them to wrap up warm, and meet us at Rochdale Train Station, where they were given a pair of headphones and the stories began to unfold. Over the course of the next 25 minutes, audiences walked under bridges, through parks and stopped off along route to watch a film in someone’s living room, to experience an immersive projection in Heena’s Fabric Shop, and to see the side of someone’s house come to life as a large screen for the finale moment.

“It felt unique to be standing in the park and feeling quite emotional watching the film and hearing the stories. It was almost like we were reclaiming these often ‘dangerous’ places and turning them into something beautiful.”

We ended the walk by inviting people to come and join us for a hot drink, some traditional jalebi and some infamous chips and chutney, but most importantly to embrace the opportunity to share their own stories with the people around them.

Stories We Tell was made by and for the people of Rochdale, and allows us all permission to be a little bit more curious about the people and places that we walk past on a daily basis.

With thanks to Manchester Independents, Touchstones Rochdale and the people of Deeplish.

Creative Team:

Director - Parvez Qadir
Producer - Jodie Ratcliffe
Filmmaker and Photographer - Kirstie Henderson
Binaural Sound - Ed Waring
Production Manager - Simon Fletcher
Musician - Jaydev Mistry

Follow the journey on our instagram page: @rochdale.storieswetell

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