How you can watch Asunder film of fascinating tales of Sunderland in the First World War

An award-winning film about Sunderland people living through the First World War is set to get a much wider audience.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:06 pm

Asunder premiered at the Sunderland Empire on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in 2016 as part of the national 14 -18 NOW programme of experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations.

Written and produced by respected music writer and film producer Bob Stanley, Asunder tells the story of the region’s involvement in the ‘Great War’ through personal experiences.

Last year it was announced Sunderland Culture would deliver an Asunder legacy programme, including screenings of the film at local and national venues, along with an educational resource project for Sunderland schools.

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People featured in Asunder

Covid restrictions meant a planned programme of screenings could not go ahead, and reduced seating capacity because of social distancing measures also threatened the commercial viability of screenings when the current restrictions are eased.

However, Sunderland Culture is now working with Live Cinema UK and YourScreen, to broadcast Asunder via a website for a two-month run.

Some of the characters from Sunderland and the surrounding area in the film include Sgt George Thompson - a transport driver in the 7th Durham Light Infantry whose story was dubbed ‘the original War Horse’ after his diary told the tale of both him and his horse surviving the Somme; Bella Reay - a young munitions worker during World War One and also top striker in Blyth Spartans Ladies FC scoring 133 goals in one season and going on to play for England; Lizzie Holmes - the first woman in Horden to wear trousers, challenging convention and inspiring other women factory workers; and Margaret Holmes, a tram conductress and heroine of a Zeppelin bombing raid.

Viewers across the UK will be able to watch Asunder at https://watch.yourscreen.net/ from Monday, March 1 to Friday, April 30, for £7.99, or at a discounted rate of £5.99 when booked through one of YourScreen’s partner cinemas around the country who share in a percentage of ticket sales.

TOP STRIKER … Bella Reay, copyright of Yvonne Crawford

A list of participating cinemas will be updated at https://yourscreen.net and https://asunder1916.uk.

Audiences are encouraged to check with their local independent or community cinema to see if they are signed up to YourScreen, and if they haven’t already done so, they can sign up as a partner venue by contacting [email protected] to get set up.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director at Sunderland Culture, explained: “It was important to us that the successful Asunder project had a legacy and that the performances back in 2016 were a start of something. A big part of that legacy has been an educational resource project for Sunderland schools, which we produced with support from Sunderland Music Hub. This has clearly been affected by the Covid pandemic, but will be ready for schools when they want them.

“Asunder is a remarkable piece of film-making with some powerful stories and wonderful, original music bringing the First World War vividly to life.”

HEROINE … Margaret Holmes – a tram conductress who survived a zeppelin raid

The film was directed and co-produced by award-winning artist and filmmaker Esther Johnson and narrated by Kate Adie OBE, with Alun Armstrong as the voice of the Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette. The film’s soundtrack was scored by Field Music and Warm

Digits, performed with Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Cornshed Sisters.

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HEROINE … Margaret Holmes – a tram conductress who survived a zeppelin raid
HERO … Sgt George Thompson, standing at the back, in a field in Marne