Sun Mar 5, 2023 – 2:30 pm | Downtown Beloit Association
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Freely adapted from the James Joyce short story, An Encounter, follows Stephen and Jay, (13), as they take a day ditching from School. Jay is a boy Stephen considers to be beneath him. Nervous of being detected, the pair stick to the margins, along the royal canal and through the anonymous docklands until the afternoon finds them on the grassy banks of the Irishtown shore. As they lay hidden in the grass, a strange man approaches. What unfolds with this man terrifies Stephen and will never be erased from his memory.
Directing this film gave me a cherished opportunity to interpret this evocative story from James Joyce’s Dubliners through the imagination and humanity of Mark O’Halloran’s contemporary adaptation.
Dublin is my hometown, I left at 17 and spent my most formative years away from it. Looking back, I loved the city for its intimate scale, it’s warmth, its charm, but I also resented how smothered I felt by its stagnancy.
Feeling invincible, I took risks in my teenage years which led to dangerous encounters that left indelible marks on me. I connect to the longing in Joyce for overcoming and transformation in Dubliners. I remarked when I first read this story how one brief encounter can alter the course of a person’s life.
This is also true of the collective. Our history, our past, our sense of place and identity can be made inescapably defining in one brief moment.
Working with this vividly crafted script I wanted to create an experience where the audience to fall in love with the city and these two boys along the borderlands.
In order to understand how someone can perpetrate the violation at the heart of the story, in broad daylight, I wanted us to observe The Man as someone who is very ordinary and, behind the breastplate of respectability, his malevolence is hidden in plain sight. Through hints and insinuations, gaps and silences we explore how childhood and adolescence often present us with moments whose full meaning and import pass us by, and can only be apprehended once we reach awareness.
For Joyce the idea of Paralysis is woven throughout the stories of Dubliners. Joyce saw that Ireland of the early 20th Century was suffering from a spiritual inertia that was preventing it from throwing off the shackles of colonial oppression. He saw that in moments of catharsis brought on by tragedy or disruption, a spiritual awakening can stir the soul into action. We are experiencing a Worldwide pandemic that will shape us psychically for decades to come. The paralysis brought on by a virus will take us years to overcome and no doubt that our individual and national outlooks along with our health will define how we recover. This film ends with the question of a new beginning, how can the encounter be overcome?
Kelly Campbell is an Irish born Actor, Writer and First time director. Her career in theatre has spanned over 20 years, beginning In 1999 when she founded the Cafe Theatre in Dublin. As an Actor her films have been accepted into Sundance, Berlinale, Venice, Toronto, Tribeca and San Sebastián. Kelly has recently finished her directing debut film, An Encounter, which is an adaptation of James Joyce’s Dubliners.
Director: Kelly Campbell
Runtime: 20 min.
Writer: Mark O’Halloran
Producer: Claire Mc Cabe
Music: David Geraghty
Cinematography: Daniel Katz
Editor: Nathan Nugent