Local students feature in new film about racial prejudice during Troubles

Emma-Rosa Dias (producer), David McCrea (writer), Liam McCartan (drama teacher) and Hazelwood student Kathryn Stranaghan.
Emma-Rosa Dias (producer), David McCrea (writer), Liam McCartan (drama teacher) and Hazelwood student Kathryn Stranaghan.

Past and present pupils at a local school shot scenes for a new short film at the site last week.

TV and film producer, Emma-Rosa Dias and screenwriter, David McCrea returned to their former school, Hazelwood Integrated College, to shoot a short film for the new season of RTE’s Storyland.

This award-winning commissioning project gives emerging Irish drama talent an opportunity to make original programmes, viewable to a global audience on RTÉ Player.

More than 200 aspiring and experienced drama production teams applied this year and Afro-Mic Production’s script, based on a true story, was chosen as one of the four films for production in 2017.

‘Cry Rosa’ tells the true story of a music obsessed mixed-race girl (13), who questions her identity when she becomes the victim of bullying in Belfast in 1986.

Over the course of the 20 minute feature, Rosa learns to deal with the prejudice of some at her school and goes on to make new friends.

The movie is set during the Troubles, but focuses on the personal experiences of a girl facing up to prejudice. The plot is based on Emma-Rosa Dias when she attended another school before moving to Hazelwood.

Cry Rosa stars Kelly Gough (The Fall, Broadchurch), Martin McCann (The Survivalist, Ripper Street) and introduces gifted young actress Grace Fleming as Rosa.

The experienced and versatile film crew have worked on a large number of high calibre local productions, including Game of Thrones, Line of Duty and Good Vibrations.

It was important for Emma-Rosa and David to involve Hazelwood in their filming, due to the warm affections and admirations they still hold for their former place of learning.

One of the first integrated schools in Northern Ireland, they describe it as a beacon of hope for the community - a message that ‘Cry Rosa’ also seeks to express, with the challenging subject of young people suffering from bullying.

After getting in contact with Hazelwood’s drama teacher, Liam McCartan, Emma-Rosa was blown away by the outstanding talent displayed when she held auditions for roles in the film.

As well as using the school as a key filming location, Hazelwood student Kathryn Stranaghan was chosen for a main role in the film and many drama students were given the opportunity to be featured extras.

The production also received plenty of help from the school’s staff, especially from caretaker Mark Stewart and Julie Richardson in the general office - their accommodating and enthusiastic support ensured a successful shoot.

Cry Rosa is to be launched later this year on the international RTÉ player.