An uplifting story for film-tragics, anyone familiar with the impact of Motor Neuron Disease, or both, It’s Not Yet Dark, unlike the many fictional stories that no doubt inspired its central figure, is all the more powerful for his accomplishments being very, very real.
Filmmaker, husband, dad and scribe for the Irish Film Board Simon Fitzmaurice, diagnosed with ALS and given little time to live, relocates to Australia with his family and continues his film work in any which way he can. Focusing on his heartfelt predicament, how he grew up, met his wife, also a storyteller, and eventually confronted the disease, It’s Not Yet Dark, narrated affectionately by Colin Farrell, weaves a thoroughly fixating tale of struggle and achievement.
Most engrossing for depicting in some detail how Fitzmaurice himself wrote the screenplay for a feature that he went on to direct, the documentary in parts is a vivid exploration of how accessibility can and in this case is being promoted in film production. Here utilizing technology whereby Fitzmaurice could draft the verse with the use of his eyes and adapting the method to allow him to lead the shoot, his effort is roundly compelling viewing, too resulting in the feature My Name is Emily which is playing in the 2017 Sydney Film Festival’s Screenability program.
Touching on the wider impact of the disease and prolific ice-bucket fundraising challenge, though keeping a significant amount of the focus on Fitzmaurice’s early years and creative exploits, It’s Not Yet Dark could easily have dedicated a greater run-time, clocking in at a relatively short 77 minutes, to depicting how Fitzmaurice overcame the barriers to not only participating in the My Name is Emily shoot but driving the whole project, itself as engaging as much of his moving story detailed at length in the documentary.
A conversation-starter and frequently riveting account, sometimes the story behind a movie is just as if not more intriguing than the finished product.
It’s Not Yet Dark is screening at the Sydney Film Festival