Breaking hearts, winning minds
Five directors have been nominated for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties film award. Here they discuss their work
A scene from Jimmy, one of the five films nominated for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards A still from Jimmy
A scene from Trish McAdams’ No Enemies, one of the five films nominated for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards
A scene from The Rattle of Benghazi, one of the five films nominated for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards
A scene from Dearbhla Glynn’s The Value of Women in the Congo, one of the five films nominated for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards
A scene from Dara deFaoite’s Mums & Dad
On Thursday, the fifth annual Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards will take place. The entries range from a film set in Benghazi but filmed in Ireland, to a look at how women survive in war-torn Congo, and a poignant look at how one lesbian couple and their gay friend raise their son.
Here, the five shortlisted directors discuss their nominated work, motivations, and what they hope their films will achieve.
Director of Jimmy
Jimmy shows a day in the life of Jimmy McIntosh MBE, who has been campaigning for disabled rights since 1972. We see the world from his point of view, as a wheelchair user living with cerebral palsy through a Scottish winter.
I first came across Jimmy as he was running a group in my community centre supporting vulnerable adults. When he told me a little bit about his work and life, I was captivated. He had won the vote for the institutionalised disabled. I couldn’t believe that someone in my own community, who had done so much for others, wasn’t universally known.
Often I find subjects that scare me or I don’t understand are a challenge I want to embrace. My understanding of disability and my experience of elderly people were minimal, so finding out about that through the filmmaking process, confronting my own fears, was really rewarding.
The most satisfying thing, though, was the relationship I developed with Jimmy and his partner Elizabeth. Filmmaking is an emotional exchange, and I felt a huge responsibility to represent them in a faithful way. If they had hated the film, it would have killed me.
I can’t say this film is impartial. By the end of the filming I was Jimmy’s biggest fan. The film is experiential. I was keen to give an insight in some way into Jimmy’s life, but it’s only a fraction – a single day. I hope I’ve found some kind of understanding of a remarkable man.
Director of The Rattle of Benghazi
The sound of a rattle is intense, distinctive and relentless. In Benghazi, a boy and a girl play with a rattle to silence the noise of the bombing. They play at being themselves. Their smiles become silent tears full of hope.
From an artistic point of view, the film is a story that has to be told. I always write when something affects me emotionally, and during the Arab Spring , it was very hard to think about children losing their lives. From a father’s point of view, I also wanted to communicate to audiences worldwide that the innocence of children always counts.
From the very beginning, shooting a film in Arabic, based in the Libyan war but shot in Ireland, was a challenge no one wanted to tackle. I sent the script to some producers and their answers were negative, so I convinced a friend of mine, the photographer Vic Campos, to give me the money. Chriona O’Sullivan and Element Digital Post Production got on board, with Ardmore Sound doing all the sound mixes, and a crew of 15 different nationalities got involved in the project because they believed in the story and in my work.