Mental health focus in Kennedy Quay film

An area of the city steeped in our maritime heritage but equally associated with a tragic end to many lives forms the backdrop of an innovative film about mental health.

Kennedy Quay features actor David Cooney as he walks through the Cork Docklands engaged in a monologue, until his voice is eventually drowned out by the noise of ongoing life.

The monologue was woven together by the film’s writer and director, Niamh Ní Luanaigh, based on snippets of conversations she overheard in real-life locations across Cork over a number of years.

“I’m interested in everyday dialogue and I spent years jotting down bits of conversations overheard in places like Penneys, Aldi, the Internet Cafe on McCurtain St, on the bus, on St Patrick’s St,” she said.

“When Cork Film Centre put out the call in 2013 for Cork filmmakers to make shorts related to the theme of Cork, I thought of this. It was what I had been doing for years.”

Niamh’s idea formed part of a feature-length film composed of a collage of shorts by nine Cork-based filmmakers, named Cork, Like, which premiered at the inaugural IndieCork festival in 2013, set up as a rival to the Cork Film Festival. It made its TV debut on RTÉ 2 last night.

“I always wanted to make something in the Cork Docklands area,” said Niamh. “I love it. And it has a link to mental health issues, a very sad link. Bodies have been recovered in the area. I have known a few guys who have taken their own lives, it’s never too far from anybody.”

Niamh’s interest in the arts is homegrown. Her father, Gerard Looney, is former principal of St John’s College which has a big involvement in the arts and her mother is a singer and poet.

Niamh has been collaborating for years with Cork filmmakers, whom she says were a fantastic help in getting Kennedy Quay off the ground.

“What I wanted to say in the film was: ‘Here’s someone in a dark headspace, he is angry, he starts to regurgitate things he’s overheard so he moves from one character to another, old women, young women, a Traveller, and so on. Even though he’s talking, no-one notices,’ ” said Niamh.

“There’s an interconnectedness between his dark headspace and the ordinary conversations and everyday life going on around him.

“Eventually, the noise of everyday life drowns him out.”

The film was produced by Cork Film Centre with cinematography by Kieran Fitzgerald and an original score composed by Athos Tsiopani, from Kerry.

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