Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane
Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane

#IrishTalent: Neasa Ní Chianáin marked as one of 10 European women filmmakers to watch

Irish director Neasa Ní Chianáin has been selected as one of ten outstanding European women filmmakers for the second edition of Europe! Voices of Women in Film, a partnership between EFP (European Film Promotion) and the Sydney Film Festival. The initiative presents an exciting range of works from ten female filmmakers to watch and Ní Chianáin was selected for her Irish Film Board-supported documentary School Life (previously In Loco Parentis), which she co-directed with David Rane.

I am personally honoured to be chosen by the European Film Promotion Unit and Sydney Film Festival as part of their Ten European Women Filmmakers to Watch strand.  School Life has had such a tremendous run now on the International festival circuit, with over 20 festivals worldwide lining up to screen the film since IDFA, and 4 international awards. We are so glad that our film, which is regularly described as a heart-warming and poignant portrait, strikes such a chord with international audiences.
Neasa Ní Chianáin

Since premiering at the International Documentary Festival (IDFA), in December 2016, School Life has enjoyed enormous success on the international film festival circuit, screening in Official Selection at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and winning critical acclaim in the process. Most recently, the documentary screened at Hot Docs in Toronto, having also won a host of major awards including Best International Feature Doc at Docville and the Prix du Public (Audience Award) at Visions du Réel.

School Life tells the story of Headfort, the last remaining boarding school for primary age children in Ireland. Directed and produced by Ní Chianáin and David Rane, the documentary is set on a sprawling estate in Kells, Co.Meath. The doc melds two seemingly incongruent worlds, as the ultra-modern teaching of Headfort’s brilliant staff is set against the 18th-century backdrop of the school’s long reception rooms, long corridors and secret doors.

Three years in the making, the film focuses on two of the longest-serving staff members, John and Amanda Leyden, who met as young teachers at the school in the 1970s and live on the school grounds. Unconventional, but both dedicated and inspiring teachers, they work long hours, serving as mentors and surrogate parents for the children in their care.

Europe! Voices of Women in Film highlights ten stellar new features from vital European talents leading the charge for change and the program will be presented during the Sydney Film Festival, which takes place from June 7th to 18th. School Life will be joined at the festival by Simon Fitzmaurice’s My Name is Emily, Frankie Fenton’s It’s Not Yet Dark, and Emer Reynolds’ The Farthest.