A new short film exploring how Lancaster is perceived by “foreigners” is being launched in the city next week.
Lancaster International is the work of photographer and software engineer Petr Vopenka, who moved to the city in 2015, a year before the EU Referendum.
Petr, 42, said he initially aimed to produce a film about Lancaster in general, but it turned out to be more about the people living here, and then more specifically about Brexit.
Petr, from Prague in the Czech Republic, was drawn to the city with a job at Lancaster University, but now works from home for a London based software company.
He interviewed Lancaster residents from Taiwan, Korea, Italy, Slovakia, Austria and The Czech Republic, with subject matters ranging from the Lancashire accent, weather, access to healthcare, and, of course, Brexit.
Petr said: “After four years I’ve got to know the place pretty well.
“I know mostly ‘foreigners’ that live here, and they’re the ones that will be mostly affected by the changes coming over the next year, and how that affects their future here in Lancaster.”
Petr, a father of two children who attend Moorside Primary School, started the project in November 2018 and the film took two months to put together.
“It’s a very biased film,” Petr said.
“I tried to get views from people that voted to leave the EU, but in the end they didn’t want to speak on camera.
“Overall, the people that I interviewed thought that leaving the EU wasn’t a very good idea.
“That doesn’t depend on their nationality either, it depends on their personality.
“All of the people in the film have already made the move to live here, so if things change, it won’t be too hard for people to re-locate.
“For British people here, Brexit will mean that they won’t be able to just be free to go and live somewhere else in Europe.
“For those that come here, it’s a bit harder for families that have moved here because of school and friendship groups, but the adults will manage by simply re-locating somewhere else.
“We coldn’t vote on this, so sometimes it feels like we’re second class citizens.
“It’s not been very surprising to hear people’s views about it, it is more that it is confirming what I already thought.
“What became apparent while making the film is that this could be a documentary about life in Lancaster before Brexit, if it happens.”
Petr said that for Europeans currently living in Lancaster, ultimately their decision to stay or go comes down to how convenient it is to stay here.
“Once it starts to become inconvenient, people will feel less inclined to stay here,” Petr said.The pound has already dropped in value for example.
“I haven’t experienced any negativity because of where I’m from, but I’ve heard of others that have.
I’m in a bubble really, because I mostly know foreigners.
“One of the main reasons we’re here is because of the education system.
“For our children it is better here.”
Lancaster International is being screened at The Storey on January 26 (sold out), and then at The Dukes Theatre on February 16.
For more information visit https://www.photographeria.com/films/lancaster-international.html.