Saturday 20 October 2018

'People are sharing their experiences after seeing the film' - Irish short about man's race to mother's deathbed striking a chord with audiences

Emmet Kelly as Sean in a still from Lost Memories, directed by Eamonn Murphy
Emmet Kelly as Sean in a still from Lost Memories, directed by Eamonn Murphy
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

An Irish short film about a young man's race home to see his dying mother is winning awards and striking a chord with audiences internationally.

Director Eamonn Murphy (25) from Dublin, has just won the Director's Choice Short Film Award at the Boston Irish Film Festival for 'Lost Memories', while the lead actor, Emmet Kelly, has won Best Actor at the Eindhoven Film Festival and the Richard Harris Film Festival.

Friends Eamonn and Emmet, who will be familiar to fans of Fair City, wrote the short together three years after the death of Emmet's mother.  It deals with the tensions which can arise between close family members when faced with the imminent death of a loved one.

Emmet plays Sean, a young man from Cork who takes a trip to Dublin for a career opportunity only for his mother to take a turn for the worse during his trip.  As he takes the three hours journey home alone in his car he fields tense and emotional calls from his father (John Kavanagh) and sister (Aoife King).

Emmett Kelly in Lost Memories
Emmett Kelly in Lost Memories

On the festival circuit, the short has been resonating with audiences.

"After the film a lot of people will come up to me and share their experiences of losing a parent or someone really important in their lives, which is very moving, and a bit strange because I never thought the film would have that impact on people," says Eamonn.

Eamonn and Emmet wrote the film after Emmet's own experience but Eamonn also spoke to other friends who had similar experiences.

"Emmet lost his mother and another friend of mine lost a parent around the same time and I was in the middle of them as they were going through this process," says Eamonn.  "They would come to me individually or we'd meet up for a pint and they would talk to me about stuff and about the politics within the family and how one character in the family is trying to take control of the situation and tell everybody else what to do, trying to take control of this event which is uncontrollable. 

Eamonn Murphy with his Director's Choice Award
Eamonn Murphy with his Director's Choice Award

"Other friends who had been through similar situations all said that that always happens."

Even within his own family he has witnessed tensions between family members when someone passes away so, he says, "I can relate to the story in that sense, from an objective standpoint, and I could kind of understand the views from both sides, rather than be caught up in the emotions of it."

Almost the entire 15 minutes film takes place in a car as Sean travels from Dublin to Cork and was shot for the modest sum of €8,000 in partnership with producer Quintin Aherne of Army of Id productions, who stepped in to help complete the film after Eamonn had been struggling to secure funding.

"I worked my ass off for a couple of months to save up as much money as possible and eventually we got there," says Eamonn, who admits that the effort that goes into chasing funding only to meet with closed doors can be "disheartening".

From left to right: Boston Irish Film Festival Director Dawn Morrissey , Steve Greeley (Executive Director of the American Ireland Fund), Eamonn Murphy (Director of Lost Memories), Shane Cahill (Dept Consul), Siobhán Fanning (Festival Producer)
From left to right: Boston Irish Film Festival Director Dawn Morrissey , Steve Greeley (Executive Director of the American Ireland Fund), Eamonn Murphy (Director of Lost Memories), Shane Cahill (Dept Consul), Siobhán Fanning (Festival Producer)

"For the past five years I've been submitting applications for funding and I haven't gotten them and it can be really disheartening not to get them," he admits.  "You sometimes end up wondering what is the point?"

However, recognition like the Director's Choice Award can help ease the struggle next time around.

"By winning the award we now have a platform to help promote our film and potentially secure international funding for further projects," says Eamonn, who has a feature and another three shorts ready to go.  Emmet will undoubtedly be signing up too.

"I met Emmet six years ago on a music video and you know when you just meet someone and click with them and you just automatically have a rapport?" he asks.  "I would meet him on a day to day basis and have a coffee or go for a pint and talk about film.  We both do films independently of each other but usually if we're working on a passion project or something that requires funding we'll try to work together. Now that we have this film that kind of qualifies our work in a sense, it tells producers we work well together as a team."

Lost Memories will screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival in Los Angeles at the end of April and will also be screening at the Belfast Film Festival and Fastnet Film Festival later this month.

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