Fallen Bird is a short documentary portrait of Irish artist, Eric Boylan. While serving a sentence for assault in Wheatfield Prison, Boylan began channeling his anger and frustration into one of his childhood passions: painting. Now that he’s been released, Eric has set out to pursue a career in fine art – while attempting to navigate the challenges of life as an ex-prisoner.
Directors Nathan Fagan and Deirdre Mullins spoke to Film Ireland about the story behind the film. “A few years back, there was an art exhibition with work by current and former prisoners. Eric’s work was quite prominent in the show and he spoke a little about how art had helped him get his life back on track – and about his hopes to attend art school now that he’d been released. As filmmakers, we thought it would be interesting to explore Eric’s story.
“In particular, we were interested in the role that art had played in helping him overcome some of his demons. However, once we’d actually met Eric and begun to develop our idea, we realised that there were other narrative threads we needed to explore too: the link between masculinity, steroid use and violence among young Irish men, for example, as well as the challenges and stigma that many ex-prisoners face when leaving jail. It was a lot to try and explore in a short documentary, but we think we managed to do a decent job of it.
“Mostly though, I think we were really lucky to have met Eric at such a significant time in his life. He was incredibly open and honest about his experiences, and we’re glad to report that the last time we spoke, he was halfway through his first year in art college.”
Winner – Best Short Documentary – Irish Film Institute (IFI) Documentary Festival, 2015
Nominated – Best Factual – Limerick Film Festival
Nominated – Best Documentary – Underground Film Festival
Official Selection – Belfast Film Festival
Official Selection – Boston Irish Film Festival
Official Selection – Chicago Irish Film Festival
Official Selection – Dingle Film Festival
Official Selection – Fastnet Film Festival
Official Selection – DocuTiff, Albania
Official Selection – A Long Week of Short Films, Shangai
Official Selection – Los Angeles CineFest
RTE Short Screen – 2017
Licensed by Irish airline Aer Lingus to screen on all trans-Atlantic flights between July-August 2016.