A DOCUMENTARY Film about a dedicated teaching couple whose entire career has been spent in Ireland’s only boarding school for primary school-aged children, will have its North American Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next week.
In Loco Parentis is one of two Irish documentaries-along with It’s Not Yet Dark- that will compete in the World Cinema Documentary Competition in the festival in Utah, founded by actor and director, Robert Redford.
Set in the magical and unconventional Headfort School in Kells, this observational film by Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane of Soilsiú Films, is being hailed by Sundance as “an antidote to the dark times we live in”.
It focuses on veteran and eccentric teachers John and Amanda Leyden, whose kindness and inventiveness, has a lasting impact on the children in their care. Even after over 40 years they remain as passionate and driven as ever about what they do.
“We both went to boarding schools and had very different experiences so we were keen to know what a 21st century boarding school looked like and to document the experience for children boarding today,” explained Ní Chianáin.
“We are thrilled to be taking it to Sundance, which is probably the most important film festival in the world for independent movies.
“This film is the culmination of four years of hard work and we look forward now to it being seen by as wide an audience as possible.” she added.
The film will will have its Irish premiere at the Dublin International Film Festival (ADIFF) next month and later in the Spring it will have a short theatrical release in selected cinemas around the country.
Last November, In Loco Parentis became the first Irish film to be selected for the feature length completion at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) where it was hugely well received by audiences.
Ní Chianáin’s earlier film, Fairytale of Kathmandu, was the first Irish film to be in the mid-length competition at the same festival in 2007.
The filmmakers will travel to Park City, Utah next week for the festival which runs from 19-29 January.
In Loco Parentis was funded by The Irish Film Board, the BAI, RTÉ, Sec 481 Tax Incentives, RTVE (Spain), Culture Ireland and supported by the Arts office of Meath County Council.