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International Programme 2014
The Stranger Neasa Ní Chianáin

Following the traces of an outsider, artist and genius who lived and died on a lonely Irish island. The sea, the cliffs, the ghosts of the dead. An enigmatic ballad.

The Stranger

Documentary Film
Ireland
2014
87 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

David Rane
Neasa Ní Chianáin
Eryck Abecassis
Tristan Clamorgan
Mirjam Strugalla
Maria Gasol, Neasa Ní Chianáin
Reto Stamm, Guillaume Beauron
“No one really knew where Neal McGregor came from and why he’d chosen to live on this remote Irish island. But there were many whispered rumours about who he was (…).” A film that starts with these words has all the ingredients of a great emotional movie: the story of an English ex-teacher, artist, esoteric, genius and dropout who lived as a hermit in a shanty on a rocky island in the middle of the wild Irish sea and died at the age of 43. The tender, unfulfilled love for the mysterious Mary, who knew how to read the stars. Weather-beaten islanders who eyed the newly arrived foreigner suspiciously at a time when the IRA was suspected everywhere and yet looked out for him when he took his boat out too far. Using deeply philosophical diary entries, ink drawings, archival footage, interviews and extremely restrained re-enactments, Neasa Ní Chiandáin composes the enigmatic ballad of a man who remained a “stranger” to himself and the world. The film’s rhythm is set by the rough landscape and its people. There’s melancholia in the images of the lonely stranger on the cliffs above a foamy sea, and the question of what price one pays for living one’s convictions to the full. The rest is left to the ghosts of the dead, the sky and the eternally breaking waves. Play it again!
Grit Lemke