Report by Shauna Stanley
A Lifetime of Stories (2019) launched at the Irish Film Festival. It is a multilingual short feature, spanning less than 40 minutes, written, produced and directed by the Director of the Festival Enda Murray, as an open access project available for free viewing on Youtube.
The film features five older members of the Irish community in Sydney sharing their stories – with themes ranging from adventure, loneliness, loss, humour and the immigrant experience.
Pat Foley opens with his story about his community involvement as a member of the Irish diaspora in Sydney. He recounts his past experience as an escort for the Sydney Rose of Tralee, and his current role as St Patrick for the annual Sydney St Patrick’s Day parade.
Next up is Damien McCloskey who manages to inject some humour into his otherwise harrowing tale of leaving Derry for Sydney, with a story about a multitude of Michael McBrides at a border checkpoint. You will have to watch Damien’s droll account of the incident to get the full value of that joke.
Marie McMillan revitalises the film at the midway point, by sharing her story in poetic form, through a lively rendition of a poem she has written, entitled, ‘My Sensuality.’
Tomás de Bhaldraithe provides his frank account in Irish, English, French and Norwegian, from summers spent boating in An Cheathrú Rua, to a musing on the isolation of the emigrant experience.
To close the documentary, another Gaeilgeoir Marion Mullan talks about her first experience as an emigrant moving from Galway to London in the ‘70s. She then charts her overland journey to Australia – setting off from London to Calais, through to Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and ending in Nepal, from where she flew to Sydney.
A notable aspect of making the film was its all-encompassing creation – the five people featured were encouraged to craft their stories through a series of creative writing, storytelling and drama workshops facilitated by Róisín Trainor, and with music by local Irish musicians John and Maggie Carty. It is truly an all-encompassing Sydney-Irish project.
When it was presented at the Festival, it ended to a resounding question from festival-goers: when are the auditions for the Melbourne version?