The 26th Galway Film Fleadh (8 – 13 July, 2014)
A City Dreaming
Sat 12th July
This is a story that weaves its way through half a century of history during a time which saw the city of Derry rise from poverty and neglect, to hitting the headlines across the world. Even though the people lacked material wealth, they certainly were rich in spirit. As the winds of change blew across the globe in the 1960s, so too they swept through the streets of this city. Using unseen archive and home movie footage, this is an homage to the ordinary people,a personal memoir, told through the eyes of a young boy (Gerry Anderson ), born in the 1940s, who witnesses firstly the warmth of his family and street and then the tumultuous events that saw the city and its people almost destroyed.
Could the spirit of the people survive ?
Director Mark McCauley told Film Ireland, “The film started as a collaboration between myself and the broadcaster/writer Gerry Anderson ( BBC ). Northern Ireland Screen immediately came on board when they saw a short trailer we put together. Andrew Eaton came on board as our Executive Producer and that gave us the confidence to believe that we were on the right track as Andrew was working with Ron Howard at the time on Rush. Andrew recommended Chris Martin who became our producer fresh from Good Vibrations and steered us through to the finish line.
I wanted to make a film that somehow captured the spirit of the people of the city where we both were born ( Derry ). My background is as a documentary camera who’s spent 25 years covering the trouble spots in the world from the siege of Sarajevo through to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ( info at www.markmccauley.tv
) My personal experience and lasting memories of all those places is that behind all the headline grabbing violence and power politics lies a real generosity and decency amongst ordinary people. It often gets overwhelmed by the violence and hence we’re often not aware that it ever existed.I thought about how we might make a story about our own city that tried to build up the picture of those ordinary people.
Gerry and I worked on different themes and stories and very quickly it seemed that an authentic way to tell the story was through his eyes. Firstly, growing up in the 1940’s as World War Two ended, witnessing the social and physical changes in the city, the gradual influence of the outside world on the city, culminating in the beginning of the civil rights campaign and the quick descent into violence. All told from an eyes on the street perspective.
A large percentage of the film is shot on home movie Super 8 film. I worked with the edit team of Justine Scoltock and Michael Barwise sifting through hours of film. The reactions of people to the camera is really natural as most of the material was shot by their own family and friends. In their homes and on the streets. Extraordinary pictures and faces hard to believe that they are from almost sixty years ago . They are so real it sometimes feel that you could reach in to the screen and touch them.
Gerry himself left the city for a period in the early 1970’s as I did in the mid 1980’s, so although we were from the city we were able to look at it from an outside perspective also.
Music and poetry have been important to both of us and so we were keen try to create augment the atmospheric footage. I enlisted the help of composer Michael Keeney who recorded a beautiful orchestral score for the film, as well as using Debussy and Ennio Morricone ( watch the film to see how that works ! ).
Marie Heaney kindly gave us permission to use a section of film which I’d shot with Seamus only a few years ago and it was very emotional for us to use that near the end of the film as we witnessed a people so deeply marked by violence.
It’s a great honour to be selected for the Galway Film Fleadh and a privilege to let the audience see a people’s history unfold before their eyes. Many thanks to all the people, too numerous to name, who generously gave us the footage. It has been been quite a journey full of emotion for Gerry and I putting this film together and we really hope the audience get a chance to feel some of that emotion also .
Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie.
Director: Mark McCauley
Script: Gerry Anderson
Producer: Chris Martin, Andrew Eaton
Mark Mc Cauley