Who Killed Brown Owl?

Civic Life

Last night I went to a Q&A with Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, who were presenting a series of shorts made over the past seven years, collectively called ‘Civic Life’. Theirs is an interesting type of ‘documentary’ filmmaking: entering a location, they will find members of the community to perform as actors and ask for their thoughts on such matters as what the film should be about and where the camera should be placed.

The resulting scripts are unashamedly fictional but based on the reality of these subjects’ lives – and the directors have given them a say on how the artifice is created. Most of the films use one long take, the camera swooping languidly around the chosen space as a narrative develops. Some are more successful than others; I thought the best by far was a mesmerising scene set in a sun-drenched Enfield park, accompanied by lush orchestral score.

Happily, the BBC has it on available to watch on their website, here – if you’ve got a spare ten minutes, it’s well worth your time. Meanwhile I was sufficiently inspired to have just ordered Molloy and Lawlor’s feature debut, Helen, on DVD.

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