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“Journey to YU (in the footsteps of Rebecca West) ” – the Photo-Documentary that dictated its own Intermission…

I am delighted to report that Saturday’s Irish Premiere of “Journey to YU (in the footsteps of Rebecca West)”, at Dublin’s Origin Gallery on Fitzwilliam Street Upper was a great success.  But I can’t honestly say that it went off without a hitch.  In fact, this pushy hour-long documentary had the cheek to dictate its own intermission!  With the generous assistance of many wonderful helpers, we did two technical runs in the week running up to the premiere, and I was over the moon with a very cool Bluetooth speaker we were being lent for the screening.  Imagine that – no wires!  And what powerful sound came out of that sleek box at the top of the room.  OK I think you can imagine what happened next…

set up OriginWell, let me start at the beginning.  Legal expert and our charming sommelier for the evening Stephen Burke greeted our guests with a nice glass of Rose or whatever they were having themselves on the way in to the transformed screening room.  We had re-applied the black-outs a few times on those elegant windows, lavishing on the gaffer tape like there was no tomorrow.  I thought all that gaffer was surely Murphy’s law taken care of.  A lively audience arrived from far and wide – Ohio, New York, Canada, Dublin’s North Wall…  35 to 40 fascinating human beings in all.  Colin Graham – writer, critic, NUIM English lecturer, and contributor to Source Magazine eloquently introduced the documentary, offering enlightening insights to set us on our way.  Everything was going so smoothly, too smoothly…  The room darkened, Mags Fitzgibbon pressed play, and we were plunged into the worlds of Rebecca West (played by Olwen Fouere), Yugoslavia 1937, and Dragana Jurisic, 2011…  We were twenty minutes into the unraveling of this powerful tale, just at the point where Dragana recounts her memories of the bombing of their apartment and its devastating affect on her world,  when…  another bomb fell on us right then and there, as the bluetooth speaker stopped working!!!  (Maybe a wifi problem? Maybe mobile phone interference?). Whatever the cause, we were confronted suddenly with a powerful – but silent – close-up of Dragana the traumatised teenager on the screen…

Yikes.  Our highly intelligent audience took this as a cue to start chatting among themselves, and somehow knew also to help themselves to some more wine (thankfully we had a cornucopia of wine on hand), in what turned out to be – alleluliah – just an impromptu intermission! While this esteemed crew chatted and got to know each other, we were blessed to have quick thinkers artist Ella de Burca and writer Anthony Colcolough in the room, who remembered their analogue speakers upstairs. Our sponsor Justin Kinsella gallantly fetched, and attached these old-fashioned reliables to the laptop, and before you could say, “would you like a top up?”, the lights were down again, and we were off again for part two of the rocky, intensely moving Journey…

Victoria Mary Clarke, who had kindly lent us her projector suggested to me afterwards that this was an excellent point for an intermission in any future screenings!  So, let me tell you, this is a documentary that knows what it wants! (And how to get it).  But having said that, I have learned the hard way to never use Bluetooth speakers for an event like this again, and urge everyone to hang on to their reliable analogue woofers.  They also provided incredible bass and delivered our sound engineer John Davis’s nuanced, precise layering of the various tracks in the textured audio in all its glory.

As the documentary came to an end, I thought everyone would be dying to run out of there, having been held captive in that room for so long, but this was not at all the case.  Moved by what they had just witnessed, everybody wanted to remain for the post-show discussion, with myself, the stressed out producer/ director, and photographer Dragana Jurisic, moderated by the insightful Colin Graham – writer, critic, English lecturer, and contributor to Source Magazine.  So, all in all it was a fantastic evening, and quite an unforgettable premiere for “Journey to YU (in the footsteps of Rebecca West)” in Ireland.  Certainly, I will never forget it.

Come and see it for yourself at Origin Gallery, July 14 – 17, (1pm; 2.30pm; 4pm), when I can assure you, we’ll be sticking to the reliable analogue speakers! I would love to hear your thoughts and responses to the work afterwards.

I was so grateful for everyone’s patience, for bearing with us, for taking the initiative to get to know each other during the impromptu “Intermission”, and basically, as you can imagine, for all pulling together to make it such a wonderful premiere event.   “It’s the people”.  Thank you all.

Ext. Origin Gallery, July 4th, 2015