How it’s New York: the film was part of the Tribeca Film Festival
How it’s Irish: It is a post-apocalyptic film set in Northern Ireland
The Survivalist – Northern Ireland Written and Directed by Stephen Fingleton
Cast: Martin McCann, Mia Goth and Olwen Fouéré
As the days grow longer and the warmer weather approaches, the Triangle Below Canal springs to life with the Tribeca Film Festival that is the brain child of Robert De Niro. I took in a couple of the films that were either made by Irish filmmakers, or had an Irish, UK or Arts theme to them, and am amazed at the incredible range of films on offer.
The first film I saw was The Survivalist from Northern Ireland. Set in a post-apocalyptic time, it tells the story of a lone man (McCann) hunkered down in a cabin trying to eke out a meager existence with a stash of seeds that enable him to grow enough food to keep himself alive.
It’s a rough tale of him surviving against all odds, which include poachers coming in the night to take all his produce, hunting for his golden cache of seeds, and wracked with guilt over not being able to save his brother.
A mother (Kathryn, played by Fouéré) and daughter (Milja, played by Goth) happen upon him and try to barter what little they have in order to get some food. They end up staying and trading a lot more than they bargained for. Milja and the Survivalist form a relationship of sorts, but there is always the question in the background of just how safe they are. He trusts nobody, and they don’t seem to have much faith in him. They even plot to overtake him.
Eventually they are set upon again by the foragers, facing the ultimate struggle, and not everyone gets out alive.
There is an interesting air of humanity about this innately brutal man, who could at times be almost soft and compassionate. He looks like a deer in the headlights much of the time and you might expect him to shoot the first person that came close to him. Yet he lets Milja in and you catch a glimpse of who he might have been before his world was destroyed.
The only thing particularly Irish was the accents. The scenery was nondescript and consisted mostly of the interior of his house. However, I did feel a definite correlation to the struggles that people in Ireland have gone through either with the troubles, the famine, or the economic downturns, and it makes you wonder exactly what landed them all in this predicament.
The acting was great, particularly Martin McCann who physically and emotionally captured the sense of a man who will do whatever it takes to survive. Both of the women held their own with him, and if you like a gritty thriller, with a few twists and turns, then this film is definitely for you.
Hopefully, someone will snap it up and bring it out in the prime summer movie season!
P.S. Writer/Director Stephen Fingleton won a Special Jury Mention in the TriBeCa 2015 Best New Narrative Director Competition.