ICAD kicked off its 60th year with The Creative Shorts VII programme at the Sugar Club on Leeson Street – and we were right there, drinking in some of Ireland's best film-making talent.
We work on big ideas every day. We dream them. We chase them. They're what drive us to Create Change. So we were excited to see what thought-provoking, answer-seeking art these nine filmmakers had produced – and it was right up our street.
We've called out our favourites of the night below.
Finn Keenan's two music videos really caught my eye at this year's Shorts – both were very stylish and beautifully shot. The use of old mirrors and complementary colours gave The Strypes' video, Behind Closed Doors a cool, retro vibe, while also requiring some clever camera angles so as not to catch the crew in the reflections. In contrast, his video for The Wombats' Lemon To A Knife Fight hardly featured the band at all and had a much darker, almost B-movie feel, but managed to keep the comedy of the song title by including some fun visual jokes.
I also really enjoyed Dirt by Des Creedon and John Kilkenny, in which we see the darker side of the friendly office cleaning lady – and what happens when you cross her.
The Swimmer, by Thomas Beug, was my absolute favourite of the night – a tough call, as I fell hard for Finn Keenan's two music videos. Beug's short documentary follows Stephen Redmond, a long-distance swimmer from Ballydehob, County Cork, between his home life and his real home: open water. Redmond was the first person in the world to complete the Ocean's Seven; in one shot, he bobs in nothing but swimming trunks and hat in rolling swells by Fastnet Rock, beaming and looking more at ease than he does in any scenes on land. As he says himself, the only place Stephen can make sense of life is twenty miles off the coast. Watching this in a darkened room, you understand him – particularly when filming shifts underwater, and the verses of Derek Mahon's poem, “A Swim in Co. Wicklow" wash over you like a lullaby.
This whole piece is my ideal film: visually striking; touching, but not mawkish; filled with beautiful words and the perfect soundtrack.
Martin, by Donal Moloney, opened the night and stayed with me for days afterwards. My first encounter with Donal's work was at a Creative Morning event in Dublin. From the beginning, I was mesmerised by what Donal had to say about his craft, his life, his attitude towards how we all live. One of his key focuses was on how we should be preserving so much around us: forgotten stories, tales lost in small towns that he was so keen to learn and to tell. I left that morning feeling incredibly inspired.
Seeing Martin at the Shorts reminded me of those words Donal had said back in December. In this film, Donal preserves the story of Martin, a man who hasn't slept in a bed in many years – but who doesn't consider himself homeless and loves the simplest pleasures each day brings.
At one point, Donal and Martin converse about what brings them both happiness. Martin smiles, and tells Donal the rain makes him happy, snow makes him happy, CHRISTMAS makes him happy. But when asked what he thinks gives Donal the same feeling, Martin gives a startling – yet confident – reply: “You will never be happy". More than any other point in the film, this hit me hard.