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Success for MA Student at Sundance Film Festival

Posted on March 22, 2017

Congratulations to MA student Neasa Ní Chianáin in the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music on the screening of her documentary 'In Loco Parentis’ at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival following its World premiere in the Feature Documentary Competition at IDFA in November 2016.

In Loco Parentis is a co-production with Grismedio and RTVE in Spain, and is funded and supported by The Irish Film Board, RTÉ, the BAI, Meath County Council, Culture Ireland and incentives for the Irish Film Industry from the government of Ireland.

Following a year in the life of the school, this often times hilarious crowd-pleaser, focuses on teaching couple, John and Amanda Leyden, who have been shaping thousands of minds with their unorthodox teaching styles for almost half a century. ‘Engaging’, ‘uplifting’, ‘delightful’, ‘compelling’, ‘magical’, ‘utterly charming’ are just some of the words being touted by critics.

Synopsis of In Loco Parentis
In the verdant village of Kells, Ireland, there's an antidote to the dark times we live in—a worn and weathered boarding school with a special magic. At the heart of the school is a bemused elderly couple, John and Amanda Leyden, who have taught with equal parts seriousness and silliness for more than 40 years. The delight of In Loco Parentis is watching the pair undertake beloved pedagogical rituals, from performing the writings of great authors to coaching a fledgling rock band, like donning a favorite sweater.

The couple’s kindness and inventiveness usher elementary school–age children, hailing from around the world, through patches of loneliness and angst. Although the Leydens pretend to dread loud, screaming kids, the truth is they cannot go a day without them. But even the most beautiful traditions wane. As John and Amanda ponder retirement, unapologetically chain-smoking in their ivy-covered cottage, the film poses a quietly profound question: Will their intimate and caring cultivation of future generations live on, or will it vanish like so many community-centered practices?


Neasa Ní Chianáin
Neasa's current MA project at DkIT supervised by Dr Eamonn Crudden and Glenn Doyle deals with the variety of ways in which filmmakers utilising an observational approach have documented educational institutions and processes. Neasa trained initially at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin, and worked as a freelance Art Director on Irish feature film and television projects, such as ‘All Soul’s Day’, Angela’s Ashes’, ‘A Love Divided’ and the BBC series,‘Rebel Heart’. She started directing documentaries in 2001 with ‘No Man’s Land’, a critically acclaimed film about the asylum process in Ireland. She has directed television docs, short docs and three feature documentaries including the award-winning Irish Film Board funded feature length observational documentary, ‘Frank Ned & Busy Lizzie’, which won Best Feature Documentary at The Celtic Film Festival 2004, and was sold to broadcasters around the world.

Her next film, ‘Fairytale of Kathmandu’ world premiered at IDFA 2007, in the Silver Wolf Competition. It was subsequently invited to 25 more international Festivals including Seattle (North American Premiere), Edinburgh (UK premiere) DocAviv, Durban, New York and San Francisco GLBT Festival, and won 3 international awards. After this, she directed ‘The Stranger’, which premiered in the prestigious Semaine de la Critique Competition in Locarno Film Festival in August 2014.

Further information on the documentary is available here.


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