A hard-hitting short film recently released offers a sobering response to the 2018 Papal visit to Ireland. God Given Opportunity is a short film by Anne Marie Kelly, made in response to the Papel visit to Ireland in 2018 and Kelly’s experience at the Stand 4 Truth demonstration which coincided with Pope Francis’ mass in the Phoenix Park.
The film had an online screening at the Disappear Here Film Festival last year. However due to the restrictions on any public events for the foreseeable, Kelly was eager to get her film out there for everyone to see. The film has been released online and recently screened also at the Dublin Underground Film Festival.
Kelly, who is also a singer, artist and psychotherapist described herself as “enraged by the way some commentators described as ‘negative’, those who were seeking atonement and reparation for the vile abuse they had suffered”. She channeled her anger into the film in the hope that it will prompt viewers to think about what child abuse really is, the evil that drives it and how the silence of the bystander enables it.
The film is an allegorical take on the corruption of an ideal and using a fable-like lens, to bring the viewer back to the early message of the Church – love. It stars Jamie McClean (Patrick Freyne’s The Cured, Ma short film) and Dmitry Vinokurov ( ITV’s Intruders , Stuart Drennan’s short United and Herself ). The film was written and directed by Anne Marie Kelly and produced by Kelly and Enda Brady. Cinematography and editing was by Ciarán O’Donnell with music supervision and sound design by John Kelleher. A number of tracks in the film are performed by Kelly herself.
Kelly won Best Actor at the Disappear Here Film Festival in 2018 for her performance in her own short film Ma. which tells the harrowing tale of a Mother whose son has killed another man. It also stars Jamie McClean and has showcased at many other festivals including Still Voices, Brief Encounters (WFT’s showcase Women in Film at IFI, Dublin), The Female Eye, Kerry International Film Festival, Toronto Irish International Film Festival, Fastnet Film Festival, Iffy Film Festival and Louth Film Festival.
Also in 2018 Kelly released ‘Virgin Mother Whore…Woman’, an exhibition held in FilmBase in Dublin. This piece was a culmination of many years of work on songs around the disconnect between the representations of females in the media and the reality of life as a woman. Detailed and layered, the presentation was in song, video, still image and 3d representation with contribution art pieces from artist Enda Brady.
Film In Dublin spoke briefly to Kelly about the short recently, ahead of its screening at Dublin Underground.
Can you describe how the dark fable-like concept was developed for God Given Opportunity?
I think that probably developed as I listened to people tell their stories at Stand4Truth. They were placing their trust in the story of the Gospel, the ideal, but were being met with the corporation, the institution of the Church. I’m not into organised religion, but the memory of the story of Jesus wrecking the temple because people were abusing it came to mind. In his preaching, he used parables to simplify the message, and this seemed the perfect framework to bring the story back to the salient points, making it timeless.
Is it a challenge to present such upsetting material in stories like this?
Yes it is. It is anger that drove its making and anger is ugly to watch. Some people may watch expecting entertainment – there is nothing here to even allow the viewer blink. Challenging those who were indifferent, who looked away and ignored those who had been hurt, that is my aim. I am afraid that there might be something I have missed that might cause hurt to the very people I want to show solidarity with. That said, I have done the very best I can, I am speaking from the heart, my truth, and hope that it is received with the purity that it has been created with.
What was it like working with Jamie and Dmitry on this?
I love working with these actors. Jamie, I have worked with many times. “Diarmuid” was written with his face in my mind. I love his energy, how he challenges himself and is eager for me to challenge him, and draw more and more from him. HIs was a difficult role. He had a personal interest in making this character come to life in all aspects of his personality. I couldn’t have asked more from him. Dmitry came to us via the auditions Rosemary O’Loughlin performed with me. Some wonderful actors read for the role. When Dmitry came in to the room though, the role clearly belonged to him. He is versatile and cinematic, the camera loves him. The camera loves both of them, the moments and connections captured between them are hypnotic.