Chris Totzke journeys into Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor’s Reel Art documentary Further Beyond, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.
Filmmakers Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor debuted their documentary Further Beyond at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival, the story of Sligo man Ambrose O’Higgins and his treacherous journey from Ireland to the mountainous terrains in Chile in the late 1700s. Molloy and Lawlor’s experimental approach to this documentary was nothing short of original. The movie opens with voice actors Alan Howley and Denise Gough speaking for filmmakers Joe and Christine in what ends up being a humourous approach to narrating such a moving story about one man’s journey to a new unforeseen world across the Atlantic in Chile.
The prologue was very detailed, picking the brains of both filmmakers on where they were setting the scenes, who they were going to cast for Ambrose, and even down to the mistakes in the narrations; which came off as quite humorous. If anything, it almost seemed like the entire film was the prologue to the documentary itself.
Narrated from the filmmakers’ point of view, the film takes in the challenges of its own making, while still incorporating the story of Ambrose and introducing a new character into the proceedings, Joe Lawlor’s mother, Helen. While her story occurred generations after Ambrose’s journey, put together side by side, the similarities in the struggles they encountered were evident.
The documentary sends a powerful message from the eyes of an immigrant adjusting to the cultural changes of the new world and the struggles they face as second class citizens while trying to make something of themselves in their new world. Ambrose, who left his safe haven behind in Ireland to eventually become a captain general in Chile, became an inspiration to many. Helen moving to the Big Apple in the early 20th century in pursuit of the American Dream leaving Ireland behind her. Their stories of immigration and displacement forge a connection between the two.
Beautifully shot, Further Beyond pushes out of traditional narrative opening the audience up to the creative process of planning, filming, and narrating this experimental documentary approach to storytelling – something that was summed up by co-director Joe Molloy in the Q&A that followed the screening. “The story was not the most important thing, it was the form of the film as well, and no more that 50 percent of the experience was the story. We were cooking with different ingredients to see how they would come together.”
Further Beyond screened on 22nd February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (18 – 28 February)