It's a special morning in Killinarden Community School in Tallaght, Co Dublin. The sun is shining on the mountains, the school uniforms are as neat as new pins and they've bagged the first public screening of new movie I Used to Live Here.
Principal Adrienne Whelan is beaming too. “It’s absolutely fantastic. We are so proud. It’s a very powerful film.”
The packed room, with its stackable chairs and hand-made murals featuring great Irish poets, is silent. The film tackles the complex issue of cluster suicides among groups of young people. Silence seems the only answer.
"There's a strong power in being exposed to a suicide in your life. If you have this, you are more likely to think about suicide," says director Frank Berry, who also directed the critically acclaimed documentary Ballymun Lullaby. The film, he says, was inspired by an article in The Irish Times by Dr Tony Bates.
A number of Killinarden pupils and the Killinarden school jumper star in the film. Some of the school’s pupils and members of the local community also helped to develop the script. In the movie, which opens on April 3rd, Killinarden proves more than ready for its close-up.
Certainly ready for her close-up is the most alliterated girl in Tallaght, Jordanne Jennifer Jae Jones.
Jones, whose mother is the new Trinity College Dublin Student Union president Lynn Ruane, has been hurtling towards stardom for the past two years. She is a radiant presence on screen, but she only heard about the role on Facebook.
Jones is happy to have stared this tricky subject in the face. “I always noticed that when people talk about suicide and self-harm, they only talk in whispers. This film gets it out there.”
Berry is the silent centre of the project. The Coláiste Dhúlaigh lecturer has let the community have its say. “I wanted everyone to bring their own colour and experiences to the filming.”
“We made this film because we wanted to talk about suicide. Now we’ve done it, people are listening to the people of Killinarden and that’s important.”
Nikita Rowley says her first cinematic role is as a “peer pressurer”. It is a role many of us are familiar with.
She’s really happy with the movie. “We don’t have many material things in Killinarden, but we have spirit.”
Movie made, job done, spirit unleashed.
I Used To Live Here is released on April 3rd