Fly The Flag Belfast 2021 1
Festival News

Fuel, the MAC, Eden Court Highlands, Sadler’s Wells and Wales Millennium Centre in association with Belfast International Arts Festival present Fly The Flag 2021.

Fly the Flag’s annual celebration of the universal declaration of human rights is back, with a project created by celebrated choreographer, Oona Doherty.

Young people from each of the four countries in the UK are creating a new film together inspired by Article 19 – the right to freedom of opinion and expression – which will premiere on Sky Arts on 10 December at 9pm to mark Human Rights Day.

Fly The Flag launched in 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), with artist and activist Ai Weiwei commissioned to design a flag as a symbol for Human Rights.

Since launching, hundreds of arts organisations, schools and charities have displayed the flag across the UK, creative opportunities have been programmed, and children and young people have learnt about, and celebrated Human Rights. The flag is central to the campaign and continues to be flown in recognition of our Human Rights, as an act of both celebration and defence.

Fly The Flag continues in 2021, a UK-wide collaboration between arts organisations and human rights charities. Working in partnership with Eden Court Highlands, the MAC, Sadler’s Wells, and Wales Millennium Centre, and in association with Belfast International Arts Festival, ​​choreographer Oona Doherty – O.D Works LTD – and a team of associate artists will lead a large-scale engagement project.

This year’s project will see groups of teenagers in a post-Brexit United Kingdom give voice to their thoughts, their fears, their hopes and their dreams. Taking a look at some of the UK’s big questions as well as some everyday ones, the teenagers will create work with a unique and powerful perspective through the use of movement, spoken word and film.

The young participants will explore freedom of expression, creating work which will be filmed for Sky Arts and free for everyone to watch. The film will be directed by Charlie Di Placido and co-produced by Fuel and House of Theresa. Alongside the film, schools and arts organisations across the UK will take part in engagement activities, promoting Human Rights and Article 19, culminating in a celebration of this work on 10 December, Human Rights Day.

Oona Doherty said: “This year’s Fly the Flag project will expand my choreography and the sugar army with crews all over the UK from all different backgrounds. We will learn a dance designed to ignite confidence and will. From our crews, we will develop our own original material in response to freedom of expression. Sky Arts will film this UK-wide army of young people. Dancing, shouting and expressing all that to them is important and what needs to change. This is the future. The good, the bad and the ugly truth of it. And we’re dancing about it.

Oona Doherty is an Irish dance artist based in Belfast. Doherty’s distinctive and visceral choreography has sparked international attention, earning her multiple awards, rave reviews and prestigious artistic opportunities both in Ireland and abroad. She creates intense, compelling works that appeal for societal change.

Her credits include Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus (2015), which won awards at Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Fringe, Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer (premiering at Belfast International Arts Festival 2017), which was voted UK dance show of 2019 by the Guardian, and Lady Magma: The Birth of a Cult (2019).

2021 will see Oona Doherty’s first collaboration with (LA) Horde, the collective at the helm for Ballet National de Marseille (FR). She is a former Belfast International Arts Festival Artist in Residence (2016) and Dublin Dance Festival Artist in Residence in 2020, 2021 and 2022. She won the Silver Lion Award for Dance at the 2021 Venice Biennale.

Image credit – Charlie Di Placido & Rhys Warren.