A new film by Des Kilbane sheds light on a fleeting moment in the lives of nine primary school pupils in Galway city as they take their first steps on the journey toward adulthood.
The film Giant Steps is now available to watch below as part of Galway 2020's Small Towns Big Ideas strand. It chronicles a year in the life of the 6th class pupils of Scoil Bhríde Primary School, Shantalla in Galway city, presenting a heart-warming look at everyday school life for nine pupils as we follow them on adventures including taking pride in and tending the school garden, taking a tour of City Hall to learn about the workings of Galway City Council and learning wire walking with Galway Community Circus.
Filming commenced in September 2019 as the pupils looked ahead to finishing primary school and transitioning to secondary level schools, but it turned out to be an unexpectedly strange and challenging year with the Coronavirus pandemic interrupting filming for six months. The project changed direction, away from the planned filming schedule which was to culminate in the pupils' participation in the exciting Galway Community Circus ‘Wires Crossed’ project. Instead of seeing them cross the river on a spectacular high wire, this film revisits them in October 2020 as they settle into first year in various secondary schools across the city and find out how they coped from March 2020 when the first lockdown hit Ireland. It has become an altogether more poignant film than was originally planned.
Head of Programme for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, Marilyn Gaughan-Reddan, comments; “Our children have had to adapt to a new way of living, a new way of life and a new way of being. This has been a really tough time for them I am so impressed with these incredible young people and how they have responded to so much change at such a crucial time in their lives, we are really grateful to them all, their parents and to Des and Frank for allowing their journey to be documented in this way, a digital time capsule that I know we will look back on in years to come as a pivotal time in all our lives."
Speaking on the project, filmmaker Des Kilbane said “We had the opportunity to talk about how COVID has changed their lives, how they were finding life in secondary school, where they had moved from being big fish in a small pond to being little fish in a fast-flowing ocean. This made it a very different story. With 31 different nationalities, Scoil Bhríde Primary School is a microcosm of Galway, celebrating cultural diversity. The creativity in that school is evident and symbolises Galway, which is why I was excited to be a part of it.”
School Principle Frank Keane also participated in the project, saying; “I have huge admiration for the children involved in this project. The represent our school so well. 6th class are our leaders. They lead and they lead by example. They represent all of the other children and represent the school community here with distinction. They handled this crisis with real courage. My admiration for them is huge, not just as children but as people.”
Giant Steps will be available to watch online from February 19th at Galway2020.ie and will run until March 21st.