UNG:DOX
The Flats

The Flats

Alessandra Celesia / France, United Kingdom, Ireland & Belgium / 2024

A run-down Belfast housing estate becomes a haunted inner landscape in a dark, cinematic film where the echoes of the conflict in Northern Ireland still reverberate in the corridors. An aging man on his final, existential mission confronts the ghosts of the past.

An elderly man struggles to drag a coffin into a small flat in a run-down apartment block. A dark and mysterious scene that from the outset places ‘The Flats’ in a haunted interior landscape where past and present merge. And they certainly do in New Lodge in the centre of Belfast, a neighbourhood still haunted by the nearly 30-year conflict between Catholics and Protestants which officially ended in 1998. The man with the coffin is called Joe, and behind his unforgettable face, we still recognise the little boy who became involved in the bitter struggle for a united Ireland at far too early an age. Today, he lives in ‘the flats’, and in his conversations with psychologist Rita, a rift in time and space opens up, revealing old ghosts. His 17-year-old uncle who was killed by a death squad. The street fights. The hunger strikes and the funeral of resistance icon Bobby Sands. Belfast’s painful modern history is tightly interwoven with the lives of Joe and the other New Lodge residents in Alessandra Celesia’s cinematic film, which deliberately unfolds in a timeless vacuum that resembles the 70s, yet is unmistakably contemporary. With reconstructions and a brilliant use of archival footage, Celesia conjures a subjective state where the past never really ended.