The 2015 film I Used to Live Here was screened on the second day of Trinity Arts Festival, followed by a Q&A with director Frank Berry. Seen through the eyes of two young teenagers, the film captures the effects of a suicide on a community in Killinarden, Tallaght.
Jordanne Jones, who plays the character of one of those teenagers (Amy) was nominated for the Best Actress award at the 2015 IFTAs and recently starred in RTÉ’s Rebellion. Incidentally, Jones is also the daughter of current TCDSU President, Lynn Ruane.
In the Q&A following the screening, Berry spoke to the TAF’s Speaker Liaison, Claire O Nuallain. He explained that the film was inspired by an newspaper article written by Dr. Tony Bates, founding director of Ireland’s National Centre for Youth Mental Health, Headstrong, who highlighted the indirect effects suicide can cause within a community. For this reason, Berry told students that his film is more concerned “with how an idea travels rather than depicting the suicide itself.”
Berry stressed that film and the arts more generally have a fundamental role in communities such as Tallaght when dealing with the question of “how do you reach a young person?” Indeed, he hoped that the actors in I Used to Live Here, who themselves are local to the area and took part in a number of weekly workshops with Berry before filming began, might see the film as “a framework to discuss and think about their lives.”
Questions from the floor noted the film’s often despondent and melancholy tone, or what Berry himself called a sense of “is this it?” Yet the film has received critical acclaim for raising ongoing social questions with honesty and sensitivity. So it is apt that amongst the traditional colour and excitement of Trinity Arts Festival, the inclusion in the programme of I Used to Live Here introduces the subjects of mental health, access to education and equality, providing a dramatic touchstone for the ideals the SU has sought to forefront this year.