'Essie's Last Stand' - a twenty minute documentary shot entirely on digital, follows the extraordinary story of how 76 year-old Dubliner, Essie Keeling, who despite her age and ill health, outwitted powerful property developers in a bid to save her dog George and her friends Karl Byrne and Bridget Cooney from homelessness.

Simple curiosity with the remarkable protest, prompted director Liam McGrath and producer Sé Merry Doyle, to appear on the scene equipped with a camera and sound equipment. Shot over a period of two weeks, a powerful film emerged, mirroring the predicament of many not-so-well-off Dubliners.

First Screened on TV3 in September 1999, Essie and her beloved Jack Russell, George, became unlikely heroes amidst the spiralling property market. During the documentary, Essie's ardent supporter, journalist Nell McCafferty, explains the symbolic importance of the protest and the reason it served as a catalyst for essential debate over the issue.

Saint Ultan's flats on Charlemont Street was, like so many other inner-city buildings, earmarked for demolition. The plan was to vacate the flats and build luxury apartments in their place. Most of the tenants accepted an offer of 1000 to move out. Alongside Essie, only Karl Byrne and Bridget Cooney stayed on, but unprotected by the law, could be easily evicted.

The possessor of a lifetime lease, Essie presented a serious problem for the developers. The true-grit and determination of the woman shines as she describes all the various ploys used to get her out. Few could fail to admire her for standing by her friends, her dog and Saint Ultan's in lieu of an all expenses paid luxury apartment.

The film reveals Saint Ultan's Flats as having a unique and ironic place in Dublin's social history. The woman who commissioned the building, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, used her seat in the first Dail Eireann (House of the Government) to convince the government to provide low-cost housing and health care for the poor. Completed in 1934, Saint Ultan's flats were designed by a very young Michael Scott for the purpose of providing housing for people in need and accommodation for staff, working at the neighbouring Saint Ultan's hospital.

Since its first screening at Dublin's Darklight Festival, 'Essie's Last Stand' has been singled-out as a prime example of how the low cost of digital cameras can be utilised to produce, on-speck, high-quality film in the hands of skilled filmmakers.

 
  Quotes: Nell McCafferty, standing among the many sidewalk supporters of Essie's cause, identifies the protests source of fascination for the press and public as being about something more than just an old woman's fight against greedy landlords. Their support, she says, comes from "a huge relief that somebody has said STOP". - Film West - Autumn 2000

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Essie + Co
8 shots


The Shoot
17 shots


 
 
 

Director: Liam McGrath
Producer: Sé Merry Doyle
Photography: Liam McGrath, Michael O'Donovan
Editor: Sé Merry Doyle
Script: Helen Curtin
Narration: Catriona Ní Mhurcu
Location: Ireland
Format: Digi Beta
Running Time: 1 x 20mins
Year Made: 2000

Transmission: TV3

  Sales Company:
Loopline Film, 106 Baggot Lane, Dublin 4, Ireland
t: +353-1-6676498 / 6627
f: +353-1-6676604

e: info@d1079532.cp.blacknight.com/htm
   

 
         
     
  Suggestions for broadcasters: This film would suit a strand dealing with the importance of living cities and the survival of local communities against the rising tide of speculators and commercialism.  
     
     
 
 
     
  Essie's Last Stand
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  'Essie's Last Stand' is a Loopline Film with
 
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