“An Blascaod Mór” takes the audience from the modern city of Toronto into communion with the most iconic Irish island, the Great Blasket. “An Blascaod Mór ” is a bilingual story of passions that are shaken by the entry of outsiders, a story of loss and self-banishment that through the death of Eilis brings about atonement for Séan O’Sullivan and all that he truly loved. It is a story that balances the moments of discovery between the present and the past of 1953.
Forgotten is about the yearning to know one’s history -- what began with a fire at 295 George Street in Toronto becomes the catalyst to share the story of over 100,000 children who came to Canada as indentured farm labour and domestics. This is the forgotten heritage of many Canadians, both of the children themselves and their descendants.
Praise for Forgotten Forgotten is a poignant and moving film recounting the story of the British Home Child movement through personal interviews with those who, without choice, were participants and with their descendants. The film provides a keen insight into what these children experienced, acknowledging and recognising their significant contribution to Canada. It must be seen to appreciate the huge upheaval and emotional turmoil that these children went through, the impact that it has had on their lives, and the lives of their families. It is indeed a story that must not be forgotten.
Eleanor McGrath's third documentary, Forgotten about the British Home Children and their descendants has been receiving great attention on the film festival circuit. In Canada, one in ten people are descended from the children who came to Canada through the child migration scheme, which operated, from 1860s to 1939. Over 100,000 children became indentured to families to work as farm labourers and domestics. With three festival screenings in the span of weeks, Matt Galloway host of CBC's Metro Morning radio programme interviewed Eleanor McGrath on March 3rd. Within seconds of the interview's start, Matt Galloway shared his own personal connection to the story that his grandfather was a Barnardo child. Following the airing of the interview, Eleanor McGrath received many email inquiries on her production company’s site www.ardri.ca. Eleanor McGrath has also been interviewed in March 2016 on CTV National News programme, Rogers Daytime TV with Val Cole, and September 2015 with John Moore on CFRB.
On October 17 2011, Eleanor McGrath took this photo of 295 George Street home the day she requested it to be placed on Toronto's Heritage Preservation list. Two days later it was gutted by a three-alarm arson fire.
Eleanor McGrath with Matt Galloway on Thursday, March 3rd for interview on Metro Morning, CBC. Matt Galloway shared that morning that his grandfather was a British Home Child.
Alive From the Divis Flats
Hugo Straney is an Irish Canadian from Belfast Northern Ireland. He has been in show business for over 30 years waiting for that big break. This honest interaction with the camera tells the story of the 'everyman' on the journey of life in his search for recognition and immortality. But it is Hugo's past: a childhood during Northern Ireland's worst times in history and disaster in social housing, that has shaped him. This is the true story, the honest story of the impact the experiment in social housing that catapults Hugo forward.
"Anyone who made it good coming from that hell hole “The Divis Flats” has to have something special about them. It has to be the worse slum I have ever had the misfortune to visit. If the living conditions were not bad enough, to rise above the outside influences of that area must have taken a strong character. Hugo Straney deserves a film making about him….Good on him!" a British Soldier, retired, served in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Divis Flats
View the agenda of the festival here. Book tickets here.
Toronto Irish Film Festival 2012 Belfast Film Festival 2012 AGH BMO World Film Festival 2012
Seven Years to the Shore
The summer movement of the McCarthy family from mainland life in Toronto to Renews, Newfoundland for the past seven years has revealed much about their neighbours and themselves.
For the past seven years, the family holidays have been made to a salt-box wooden home in the community of Renews, Newfoundland, a fishing outport on the Irish loop. While Eleanor has had her camera rolling to capture her young family's holiday, she has met and interviewed her neighbours who have lived through pre-electricity days, World War II, the fish moratorium and the renewal of interest in the province of Newfoundland for its oil resources. Intertwining casual holiday footage, with photography and interviews an homage to the strength of the people of Renews forms alongside the love of an urban family for their neighbours in this picturesque fishing community.
NORTH to CHURCHILL
It is not the destination but how you get there that forms the story. The story in "NORTH to CHURCHILL" are the people: the railroad employees, those waiting for their family to return from shopping in Thompson, and those returning home from years spent in Winnipeg. And now with the increasing environmental changes, there are hundreds of tourists in search of the natural beauty of the North who travel by train to Churchill each year. From the lasting scars of the Residential Schools and the relocation of the Sayisi Dene from Duck Lake to Churchill, there are many in Churchill who continue to live in the shadow of this sad history. The documentary will highlight the strength that is found in the people of the North, especially through individuals like Ila B., a Survivor, a past Chief of her community and visionary of the future for her family and fellow Dene. Travel on the train in "NORTH to CHURCHILL" will bring the viewer into the heart of this remote community and share a moment in time that may soon be gone because of the influx of multi-nationals developing the North.
The Background A train captures you into its moving community and holds you under one roof to share in a common goal – the destination of the final train station. As a director, train travel is my addiction satisfying my need to escape and daydream surrounded by people I may never see again. In 2015, with only two weeks off from a consulting project and a desire to see more of Canada, I looked at VIA's train map and then looked north. From Toronto to Winnipeg on the train is almost two days with an overnight stay in Winnipeg, and then north for two more days to Churchill. I packed a bit of summer and winter clothes, not knowing what this August trip would bring as we headed towards the Arctic Circle. This was to be a true adventure to see the polar bears, belugas, and northern birds before their migration south. It was also to experience first-hand what it is like to live in the North and have only the train or plane to get you in or out of your community.
In the documentary, the viewer will experience northern Canada train travel: moments of silence disrupted by outbursts of laughter, banter and crying babies, lulled by the sounds of the train on the tracks, guided by personal interviews of travellers on this northern journey. And within this framework, it is the personal interviews of fellow travellers, and those living in Churchill who will tell a story connecting the viewer to the raw beauty and strength of those who journey, "NORTH to CHURCHILL".