When I came across a bundle of old letters hidden in the loft of my mother’s house I had no idea they contained a secret my parents had taken to their graves.
My mother died of a sudden heart attack aged 73 and I had to clear out her house. In the loft in a battered suitcase I found the letters. They were handwritten and postmarked from Ireland in the early 1960’s. As I started to read them I realised that these were letters sent from my father to my mother. Out of one fell a photograph of a man, the first time in my life I’d seen the likeness of my father.
What I discovered weren’t a bundle of love letters. They were an expression of fear, ruined dreams, social ostracism and the thwarted affection of two Irish people in the late 1950’s and early 1960s. As I read and re-read the letters I began to piece together what had happened around the circumstances of my birth.
I decided to make a film based on the letters more as therapy for the grief of losing my mother than as conventional documentary film-making. This is the result. The Secret was selected to be shown at the International Documentary Film Festival in Rotterdam in 2019.
ABS AND CAFE CORSO
This is a film I made during the first lockdown of 2020. I couldn’t work and wanted a project to energise me and found one literally on my doorstep. Opposite where I live is a small cafe run by a French Algerian by the name of Abs. During the lockdown the cafe became a neighbourhood hub and I wanted to make a short film about Abs’ journey from France to running a cafe in London. At a time when immigrants had become demonised by Brexit I wanted to show a more positive immigrant story.
These were the first instalments in a series combining fragments of poetry with music and images. The first three featured the poems of John Donne, the metaphysical poet, and particularly his musings on the approach of death.
NORTHWEST WIND by VELVET PICTUREHOUSE
This is a film I made for indie folk band Velvet Picturehouse for their evocative song Northwest Wind. Memories of our road trip to the north west of England to film it still bring a smile to my face.
Here’s their page on bandcamp – https://velvetpicturehouse.bandcamp.com/