Belfast Girls

Malin Andersson.

Sweden 2006, 52 min. & 58 min.

Growing up in the UK, it’s always seemed perfectly normal to me that Belfast is split by high barbed-wire “peacewalls”. Malin Andersson’s Swedish eye has allowed me to look at my own country with new eyes: Belfast, I have to admit, can be a pretty bizarre city.

20061002114705Andersson attacks all the themes you’d expect-sectarianism, violence, the prospects for peace-but sneaks up on them all in a refreshingly oblique and intelligent way. As Northern Ireland’s peace process approaches its adolescence, the film follows two Belfast adolescents for an entire year.  They’re working-class teenage girls obsessed with the usual teenage things – make-up, boyfriends, arguments with their mums. Mairéad is Catholic, Christine is Protestant. It’s tellingly clear that Christine and Mairéad have so much more in common than they have differences, but the point is never laboured.

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