Stories of LGBTQI+ people living in rural North West celebrated in an audio installation at the Foyle Film Festival, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

13th November, 2023

Cinema for the qu(ears) is an audio installation featuring soundscapes from the lives of LGBTQI+ young people living in rural areas of the North West and will premiere at the Foyle Film Festival on Sunday 19 November. This innovative project is funded through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Rural Engagement Arts Programme, a funding scheme established in 2022 with the aim of providing an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of rural communities as they emerged from the global Covid-19 pandemic. The overarching theme of the programme is to tackle isolation and loneliness and promote social inclusion and wellbeing through participation in the arts.

Cinema for the qu(ears) is built around the idea of “Cinéma pour l’oreille” (Cinema for the Ears), coined by French/Canadian composer Francis Dhomont with listeners taken on a journey through soundscapes that conjure up aural images, creating a cinematic experience for the ear. The artists who created the installation are all LGBTQI+ young people and the installation is a collection of sounds from their daily lives, the music they listen to, their voices, their stories — all shaped in a professional recording studio to empower them to tell their personal stories. The installation uses these sounds to build up an imaginary cinema soundtrack — Cinema for the qu(ears).

Cinema for the qu(ears) was led by the Northern Lights Project and ran from March 2023 to August 2023. It featured a series of workshops led by Amanda Koser-Gillespie with LGBTQI+ young participants, and a final sound design session with artists Glenn Rosborough and Peter O’Doherty at the Nerve Centre in Derry-Londonderry.

Artistic Director of the Northern Lights Project, Peter O’Doherty, commented, "This project has been a fantastic opportunity for rural queers in the Northwest to take part in a really substantial creative project, developing an immersive soundtrack based on the sounds of their daily lives. This cinematic experience for the ears, which we've called tongue-in-cheek 'Cinema for the qu(ears)', gives them a voice and enables them to explore and develop their creative talent and present the resulting sound composition at a showcase event at Foyle Film Festival. We're extremely proud of the young people who participated and are confident that they will cherish the memories of the project for years to come."

Project participant, Charlie, said, "I enjoyed this whole project as it gave me an opportunity to leave the house and try something new. I met some new people who I still talk to a lot, and I got to create something that I can be proud of. It was amazing spending time with Amanda, planning and preparing everything for our music piece. It was a very fun experience to play with and manipulate sound to create the final pieces."

Gilly Campbell, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make this funding available to the Northern Lights Project and other rural communities across the region. We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as alleviate isolation and loneliness.

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, the National Lottery Rural Engagement Arts Programme has supported 135 arts projects in rural areas of NI with total National Lottery funding of £898,780, since its establishment in 2022. The programme has been making positive impacts in rural communities by increasing opportunities for people to engage and participate in meaningful arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. The Arts Council believes that arts, and coming together as communities, can all make a vital contribution to building wellbeing, confidence, and healthy, integrated communities.”

Cinema for the qu(ears) will premiere at the Foyle Film Festival on Sunday 19 November from 4pm in the Nerve Centre in Derry-Londonderry. Admission is FREE. For more information visit

Group of young people taking part in a music wokshop.
Participants at a workshop as part of Cinema for the qu(ears).