Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, star of Silence, talks to Tara Brady, p4
TIRED OF THE explosive exploits of superheroes? Bored with monolithic tentpole releases? There is another way. This weekend, Silence will descend on selected cinemas. The latest film from veteran documentarian Pat Collins follows a young sound engineer, returning to Ireland after a 15-year absence, as he seeks out the country’s quietest landscapes. Our hero’s Luddite-friendly mission to escape all manmade sound takes him to Inishbofin, Galtymore, the Burren, Connemara, Ballycroy and Tory Island.
The cinema, in turn, is transformed into a contemplative, otherworldly space.
“It’s pared back,” nods Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Silence’s star and co-writer.
“The themes that are explored are subtle things like loss, our attraction to landscape, reconciling with the past, and language. Too much drama would have pushed those out to the edges. It’s like a meditation. Walk into the film and you have space. The dialogue is sparse. You’re not bombarded with what Hollywood might throw at you. Pat was very courageous in what he did.”
In common with his director – Pat Collins edited Film West and programmed the Galway Film Fleadh before moving into the documentary sector – Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde is a polymath. Born in Gaoth Dobhair, Donegal, Mac Giolla Bhríde worked as a civil engineer for 10 years before plumping for the road less travelled. The son of writer, educator and sean-nós singer Nellie Nic Giolla Bhríde and the brother of Corn Uí Riada sean-nós champion Dominic Mac Giolla Bhríde, Eoghan had a yen for the arts long before he made the jump.
“I had always been writing and working on short stories, but being a civil engineer as well, it just wasn’t working out,” he says. “It’s hard coming in from a 12-hour shift and starting work on something else. I just didn’t have the headspace. I had to bite the bullet. So I bought a ticket to Mexico and spent a year in Central America writing.”
Was the sean-nós an influence on his work?