Shane Croghan takes a birds-eye view of Aodh Ó Coileáin’s Fís Na Fuiseoige, which screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
Fís Na Fuiseoige (The Lark’s View) is a gently-paced reflection upon the long-standing Irish relationship between land, literature and our own sense of self. Merging modern techniques of aerial cinematography with the words of Irish language poets dating as far as hundreds of years back, this documentary is a thoughtful examination of our heritage and an affectionate celebration of the relationship between person and place.
Director Aodh Ó Coileáin displays a clear passion for, and understanding of, the value of the Irish language in his handling of the topic. The informative, co-dependent relationship between person and place is evoked in the simple, yet effective, directorial decisions employed throughout Fis Na Fuiseoige. Introspection is encouraged in the slow movement of the camera, the considered cadence of the poetic delivery and the natural beauty captured by the swooping overhead drone. Even when we venture into the urban cityscapes, which are implemented later on in the piece, the reflective style of the documentary is never abandoned in favour of anything overtly dramatic. Instead, an almost meditative viewing is encouraged. The inclusion of these urban locations is an important addition, offering a contrast to the earlier rural settings and providing the viewer with a more complete snapshot of contemporary Ireland.
Though the beautifully crafted sequences of poetry and landscape imagery may set the tone of Fís Na Fuiseoige, the interviews with local people at each of the documentary’s locations are also an important component, serving to root the narrative in reality to some extent. Their affinity for their heritage, alongside their wealth of knowledge regarding their homeland, contextualises the more metaphorical, visually-driven sequences and further reinforces the theme of the film, that our proximity to the land allows us to better grasp a sense of our own existence. As well as presenting us with an affectionate exploration of our relationship to the land, Aodh Ó Coileáin offers an insight into the value of the Irish language and the potential loss of identity which can arise when a language begins to decline.
Fís Na Fuiseoige is an impressive directorial debut from Aodh Ó Coileáin. Both grand in scope and intimate in execution, this documentary is a warm study of our language, our land and ourselves. Director of photography Colm Hogan has captured some truly staggering images, presenting the topography of Ireland from a bird’s-eye perspective and providing his director with the ideal fodder for the narrative. This film is timely, given the recent centenary celebrations, and more importantly, it is delivered with conviction and brimming with genuine emotion.
Fís Na Fuiseoige screened on Friday, 8th July 2016 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh.