One Million Dubliners

Documentary Films

SIFF Says:

Few places on Earth encapsulate the history of its country as Glasnevin Cemetery does for Ireland. It is the final resting place of 1.5 million souls (more than the living population of Dublin), including the graves for many of Ireland’s most prominent national figures: Charles Parnell, Daniel O'Connell, and the 1916 Easter rebels. However, despite being Ireland’s national necropolis, Glasnevin is bustling with life: from the cemetery’s administrators, who follow a centuries-old plan to inter each new resident, to the on-site florists gossiping about which graves receive the most flowers each holiday. There is Shane MacThomáis, the cemetery’s loquacious unofficial historian, who gives daily walking tours to locals and tourists alike, many of the latter seeking the final resting place of an old country ancestor. Along the way we encounter such hallowed sites as the heartbreaking Angels Plot and the ever-popular Michael Collins Memorial. Throughout ONE MILLION DUBLINERS, director Aoife Kelleher weaves together the often unspoken stories of love and loss, ritual and redemption, emotion and history, giving perfect credence to the film’s opening quote from James Joyce, “In the midst of death, we are in life.”

Stranger Says:

This documentary about Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery is engaging enough for those interested in Irish history and/or cemeteries. The place is home to the corpses of Brendan Behan, Roger Casement, and tens of thousands of stillborn babies—Glasnevin is one of the few cemeteries that allows their burial on consecrated ground—one of whose mother works there as a tour guide. The film strings together a series of eccentric character sketches (including the mysterious “French lady” who visits the grave of revolutionary Michael Collins each year), but ends with an O. Henry-type twist that will leave you gaping like a fish. You’ll have to hit Google to fill in the details, which director Aoife Kelleher handles with gentleness and circumspection, but this unforeseen event backlights the rest of the film in a deeply eerie way. (BRENDAN KILEY)

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Film Credits
Aoife Kelleher
Shane MacThomais, Veronique Crombe, George McCullough
SIFF 2015