On Saturday night I was talking to Sean O’Byrne at the premiere of a film in the IFI. He is Christina Noble’s brother and the film was about her work and how it developed out of the injustice of their early lives.
I bought Sean a drink and we were chatting away happily when we were joined by a very pleasant, charming and well spoken man in his early sixties. They shook hands and Sean said without hesitation, “I can see your story is the same as mine.”
The hair stood up on the back of my neck. There was nothing in this man’s appearance that would suggest an early life of abuse at the hands of the church and the sadness of a family ripped apart by malign figures in officialdom. But Sean spotted it straight away.
They walk among us, that generation of poor children turned hurt adults. You will never know them unless they reveal their sadness and you may never understand the depth and breadth if that pain unless you see this film.
“In a house that ceased to be” is the most honest and unflinching documentary film of its kind I have ever seen. You may think you’ve seen or read interviews that explain the work that Christina Noble does in Vietnam and Mongolia. You may think that you’ve seen or read pieces that explain the lasting damage caused to residents of Institutional Homes. You haven’t until you’ve seen this film.
Director Ciarín Scott (far right beside Sean in the pic above) has got inside a family deliberately thrown to the four winds by church and state. In an amazingly sensitive piece of journalism and film making she has got right under their skins and laid bare the lifelong toll of allowing monsters into the lives of children.
You have to see this film. You will have by now have heard about the more publicised movie “Noble” which is also about Christina. And I’m sure it’s a great drama, but you have to see this film, “In a house that ceased to be”.
It’s about Christina’s work, it’s about her sad childhood, her family’s painful reunion after 50 years apart. But that is a very prosaic description because it is about so much more.
It’s a meditation on good and evil, and how love and humanity can flourish in the face of unspeakable abuse. It is funny, infuriating, inspiring and sad. It is a part of what being Irish is sadly, and it is about those who walk among us whose pain you can never hope to understand.
Christina rages in the film at one point about how it is impossible for her to explain what happened to those committed to the torturous care of those running Residential Institutions. At our talk after the premiere of “In a house that ceased to be”, she acknowledged this film does that job.
It’ll be screened on RTÉ next year and will pop up elsewhere between now and then. Go and see it.