Sunderland soldiers’ stories of the Somme remembered in new film

The horror of the trenches in the Great War 1914-18. World War One

The horror of the trenches in the Great War 1914-18. World War One

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Sunderland will pay its tribute to the Battle of the Somme with a major cultural event.

On July 10, Sunderland Empire will host Asunder, a film about the city’s Somme story, which will be screened with a live soundtrack performed by Mercury Prize-nominated Field Music and Warm Digits, along with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Sunderland's Field Music will perform the soundtrack to Asunder

Sunderland's Field Music will perform the soundtrack to Asunder

Asunder will also see other locations across the city brought to life on the day with imagery, happenings, performances, displays and re-enactments to mark the centenary. Wearside will host the event’s debut, before it tours the UK, and it ties in with the city’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

Sunderland Cultural Partnership (SCP) has teamed up with 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary, for the ambitious event.

Film maker and musician Bob Stanley, Asunder’s creative producer, said: “The performance will be alluring, poetic and political. I want everyone who sees it to take pride in the region’s unique history and to feel they can help to build its future.”

Asunder will see award-winning film maker Esther Johnson tell a powerful story of the city’s involvement in the Great War through largely-unknown personal experiences.

Jenny Waldman, director ay 14-18 NOW, said: “Bob Stanley has brought together incredible musicians and film-artists to create a unique, contemporary take on Sunderland’s Somme story.

“The legacy of the First World War in the region, from the men on the battlefield to those working in the shipyards, needs to be told to a new generation and we are delighted to be working with Sunderland Cultural Partnership to bring this extraordinary event to the Empire.”

Sunderland’s museums, arts and heritage organisations will also be working with communities across the city from spring to explore local stories and experiences and develop creative responses to life in Sunderland during 1916.

Working with Sunderland Music Education Hub, Sunderland Libraries Service, Culture Bridge North East, heritage partners, artists and musicians, there will also be a programme of activity for Sunderland schools to be involved in.

Coun Mel Speding, chairman of the Sunderland Cultural Partnership, said: “This ambitious programme reflects both our city’s commitment to our shared heritage and our cultural future, using one to commemorate the other.

“Every family in Sunderland was affected by the First World War, and through this project we hope people will join us in remembering the sacrifice of those involved with the Battle of the Somme one hundred years ago which helped shape world history.

“This event is part of an exciting programme that we have put in place with our cultural partners to commemorate our past and celebrate our future which they all helped to make possible.”

He added: “Asunder is an important milestone for the Cultural Partnership and demonstrates the potential strength of collaborative working, with arts and heritage partner organisations large and small, as well as individual artists, contributing their expertise and positive spirit to make this work. It will also be an important project to rally public support in the year we begin work on our bid to become UK City of Culture 2021.”

Tickets for Asunder will be available from next month.