Discussion forum followed Tears screening

A PACKED cinema which included a wide-cross section of the Calder Valley community attended a special first anniversary screening of a film which questions what may be going wrong in one of the area's towns.

The free screening of director Jez Lewis's film Shed Your Tears And Walk Away was organised by the Halifax and Calderdale Samaritans at Hebden Bridge Picture House and was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr Lewis left the town 20 years ago and in the years since many of his old friends have died through suicide or drink and drugs.

Wanting to find out what was going wrong in the town, better known for its creative ambience and liberal attitudes, Jez decided to make a documentary film. The result - Shed Your Tears and Walk Away - is a powerful and unflinching portrayal of a community in crisis, said a spokesman for the Samaritans.

For most people Hebden Bridge is a great place to live. However, despite being dubbed "the fourth funkiest town on the planet" there is another, bleaker side to Hebden Bridge thatmany people struggle to acknowledge, added the spokesman.

The question-and-answer forum was chaired by Tony Greenwood, headmaster of Colden School and a former Todmorden Town Councillor.

On the panel were the film's director Jez Lewis, chairman of the Samaritans Sophie Andrews, Hebden Royd Town Councillor and Calderdale Councillor Nader Fekri, Josephine Jones, whose brothers Sam and Liam tragically died within the last three years, and, the youngest panel member at 16, Chaim Narang, representing Project X, a social enterprise that works with young people aged 13-25 living in the upper Calder Valley.

The Samaritans hope that local organisations will work together to tackle the issues raised in the film.

They will be arranging a follow-up meeting and anyone interested in working with local community groups should contact Halifax and Calderdale Samaritans on 01422 349349.

"Local people, many of who have been directly affected by the problems highlighted in the film, were given the opportunity to have their say," said the Samaritans spokesman.

"There were many questions and suggestions from the audience, as well as information about some of the support that is available.

"It was particularly encouraging to hear the contributions from younger members of the audience."

The forum was filmed by the BBC, and will form part of their documentary programme, Inside Out, which is due to be broadcast on November 2.