Director: Gerald D’eath
Writers: Janine Cobain and Gary McElkerney
Cast – Narelle Allen, Tim Fergusson, Gary McElkerney, Robbie Beggs and Brian Patrick Kennedy
(QFT Screening 22/03/2015)
AT a time when the local art-scene here in Northern Ireland faces severe pressure from proposed funding cuts, locally produced feature Feathers once again highlights the fantastic level of burgeoning cinematic talent the province has to offer. Shot on a minimal budget over a two-week period, with cast and crew donating their time and talent for free, Gerald D’eath’s feature is a textbook example of guerrilla filmmaking at its finest.
The film’s initial premise sees a young married couple who have become completely disconnected with each other; a deeply traumatic event in their past still casting a heavy shadow over their once happy relationship. As Grace (Narelle Allen) struggles with her emotional health, her husband Jacob (Tim Fergusson) can only watch helplessly from the side-lines, his only real solace coming from conversations with a nameless character played by Gary McElkerney, confiding to this person his concerns over his wife’s mental well-being.
As the story unfolds everything isn’t as it initially seems and the feature explores complex issues raised by grief and depression, addressing the subject in a tasteful and non-superlative way; its screenplay co-written by Janine Cobain and Gary McElkerney is littered with a real sense of understanding and respect towards the delicate subject-matter. Even as it dabbles with elements of the supernatural the film’s dialogue remains grounded in realism, reminding us that those individuals going through the grieving process might appear to be broken; but that doesn’t mean they can’t be mended.
All the cast put in strong performances, particularly Narelle Allen who doesn’t play Grace in an over-the-top way, but more so her portrayal is more nuanced and as such seems more genuine and believable. Both Tim Fergusson and newcomer Gary McElkerney put in solid performances as well, with some deeply moving exchanges between the two as the film moves towards its poignant finale.
Shot as a fundraiser for local charity MYMY (Mind Your Mate and Yourself), Feathers might lack the polished visuals of other locally produced features with considerably larger budgets; but nevertheless it still packs a powerful punch within its short runtime. Tackling a difficult issue like depression, the film doesn’t proclaim to have all the answers, but importantly it creates a platform for discussion that should last long after the credits have rolled.