A documentary film set in the endangered fishing communities of Kilmore Quay, Duncannon and Slade which was produced by the award-winning artist and filmmaker Els Dietvorst, had its Irish premiere at Wexford Arts Centre following a Belgian showing in Brussels.
'I Watched the White Dogs of the Dawn' is the second part of a triptych of films about the relationship between humans and nature and deals with the disenchantment to be found in communities from the pressures of the commercial market.
Kilmore Quay, Duncannon and Slade have been fishing villages from as long ago as the 16th century and salt water is in the veins of the fishermen and women who live there, according to Els, a Duncormick-based native of Belgium who was awarded the prestigious Evens prize for the first film in the series, 'The Rabbit and the Weasel' set in the Wexford countryside.
'The pressure of a commercial market system and European rules and regulations are conbining to create a discontinuation in the ancient craft of fishing ', she said.
'The fishermen are disappearing and with them the generations-old knowledge of patterns of ecology of the sea'.
Independent filmmaker Els invested time in making an honest portrait of the fishing communities, setting individual stories against the backdrop of the wider European politicial and economic situation.
For the film, she spent a week on board a fishing vessel as well as many hours on shore, interviewing, listening and filming the characters and those close to them.
'Immersing myself in this way enables me to enter into a creative dialogue with the community', she said.
Els works closely with non-professional actors, mainly drawn from the community itself and builds her film around them.
All the characters in the film are part of the fishing communities of Kilmore Quay, Slade and Duncannon.
Kathleen Bennett (76) is a mother-of-five who survived by plucking perwinkles for export to France and Spain. Fishing is her passion and she knows the sea by heart, passing on her knowledge to her grandchildren.
Trawler skipper Jay Bates comes from generations of fishermen and has been fishing since he was a young boy. In the film, he is seen repairing a smaller trawler to go back fishing with a smaller crew. Fiona Miskella fishes lobster and crabs with her father Tommy Miskella in Slade where different boats fished herring, salmon and pollock but due to European restrictions only crab and lobster boats remain, mostly for export to Spain and France. David Keaton is a fisherman and videomaker who learned how to fish when he was very young. His father and brother ar still fishing. They own their own boat and fish black sole that is exported directly to Belgium.
The film was written and directed by Els and features Kathleen Bennett, Sinead Bennett, Thomas Miskella Senior, Fiona Miskella, Jay Bates, Mick Kinsella, David Keaton, Chaz Bates, Gerard Culleton and Joe Sinnott and also Diarmuid Kinsella, Peter and Sibeal Cullen. The director of photography is Hans Bruch Junior with sound engineer Wouter Gordts, sound designer Gedeon Depauw. The film was made with the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund and the Irish Arts Council.Els is a Belgian artist, filmmaker and shepherd who lives and works in Duncormick. She graduated from Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts. She is currently working on a Phd in Arts. She focusses on communication, collaboration and social conflicts.'I Watched the White Dogs of Dawn' has been pre-selected for its international premiere at FID Marseille. It will be shown at the Documentary Film Festival in Kilmore Quay on September 23.