Best Boy X Docs Ireland Header

Best Boy Recommends: Day 2

BEST BOY SAYS SOLIDARITY FOREVER, as we discuss the first full day of events at Docs Ireland 2024…

We kicked off the day by heading to the newly refurbished Seamus Heaney Centre and this was the perfect location for the event in question. It was to be a Celebration of the work of pioneering broadcaster, documentary filmmaker and musician, David Hammond.

David Hammond, or as he was affectionately referred to by the myriad of those who spoke at the event, Davey, was not just a filmmaker, but a collector of stories, images, rituals, poems, songs and even games;

The things that weave together the cultural fabric of Ireland. We saw two of his films, Dusty Bluebells from 1973, that poetically and fluidly catalogues, the games and songs of the children of the Troubles. When the streets of Belfast were so associated with violence, David Hammond found innocence and play. We also saw a film featuring his close friend, Seamus Heaney, entitled, Something to Write Home About from 1998.

Within the film, our poetic Uncle Seamus, eloquently guides us through the townlands, boundaries and borders of his youth, interweaving Roman gods, Irish history, local vernacular, and of course the memories of his youth, into a rich tapestry, making the film, truly something to wrote home about.

Watching this film is like smelling turf burning, in the best way possible. That evening over at the Avenue Cinema, we saw two Palestinian films rooted in the ideas of home.

Three Promises (Yousef Srouji, 2023) and Between Two Crossings (Yassir Murtaja, Rushdi Al-Sarraj), were remarkable and moving films, raising money for Medical Aid for Palestinians. The films are as important as ever, stark reminders of the violence currently ongoing, and re-emphasise the importance of raising not just money for Palestine, but awareness as well.

Last night we also saw our first film that featured The Maysles Brothers Competition for Observational Documentary, Union.

The film follows the grass-roots campaign of the Amazon Labour Union, an organisation led by Chris Smalls that is attempting to unionise their Amazon fulfilment warehouse. Against all odds, the union wins, officially making their Amazon warehouse the first in America to be unionised.

We ended our day at IFTA winner, The Days of Trees. A deeply moving and heartbreaking portrait, directed by Alan Gilse­nan, the film takes an intimate look at the life of Tomás Hardi­man. Tomás is an unbelievably charismatic protagonist, a man who is empathetic to his bones, with an intensely poetic outlook on the world around him. He prays everyday, not to God but to the smallest atom within himself, as he says nature is the closest thing he can imagine to God. The film takes us through his whole life, we get to know his family deeply, his life abroad, his career working in the Abbey theatre, and eventually we learn of the abuse he faced as a child, at the hands of a Christian Brother, his teacher.

Tomás, like many victims of child abuse, did not recall the abuse he had suffered until much later in his life. He describes it almost as a phantom which had been looming over him his entire life and eventually it came to the surface. The way Tomás explains it, the abuse that had happened to him was so overwhelming for his young mind, that his brain had nowhere to put it, it wasn’t him actively repressing the memory, but rather he hadn’t experienced it.The film explores what happens after someone comes to terms with something like this, and Tomás does not shy away from detailing the emotions he felt during this time. Extreme anger and sadness, and a feeling of helplessness, wondering why nobody protected him. He eventually writes a letter to his abuser, and he explains that he just wants to chat, he does not want to name him or cause him any harm. In Tomás’ words he says that he loves all living things, with no intent to harm them, and, as you are a living thing, you are precious to me

Turning our eyes to today!

After such an amazing line up of films yesterday, how can today ever top it I bet you are wondering! Well, fear not, here’s a few of our top choices for today.

Kicking the day off to a flying start is Here and Elsewhere, Then and Now, a seminar given by Queen’s lecturer, Des O’Rawe on the various attempts by Europeans to try and give an answer to the so called, “Palestinian question” in the late 60s and early 70s. Another great event in the amazing line up of Palestinian films playing in this year’s programme, this seminar will examine the works of Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Miéville and beyond. Happening in the QFT film studio at 11am, this is one not to miss!

Here at Best Boy, we love all things scary, folky and cryptic, and one of today’s events is utterly perfect for that. Operation Bogeyman, happening at 5pm in the QFT, will explore the folk horror landscapes of the 70s, here in the north of Ireland. The seminar will be held by Simon Aeppli, a Belfast-born filmmaker, who will share his PHD research on the subject, weaving together personal and historical narratives to explore the ghosts of this area’s troubled and disputed history. If you love fairy mounds, ghost soldiers and psyops, don’t miss out!

If you asked us here at Best Boy how we would want to end our perfect day, our answer will always be sitting in a comfy bean bag and getting our eyes opened to films that are like nothing we’ve seen before at Normal Cinema Club. It seems as though we’re in luck today, as that’s exactly how we are going to end our perfect Docs Ireland day. Tonight, Normal Cinema Club will screen, Home Invasion, an atypical essay film that maps the doorbell through history, from the early 19th century to the current surveillance state we live in with the rise of Ring doorbells. Director, Graeme Arnfield, will be there to introduce the film. Alongside Home Invasion, Normal Cinema Club will screen Chris Marker’s, Stopover in Dubai, as a sort of introduction. This film tracks a murder in an airport through the use of only cctv, making for a chilling found-footage exploration.

Have a great day!

  • love, Best Boy

Find out more at the Best Boy website here