Bread & Circus has made their wonderful feature documentary The 4th Act available to watch for free via streaming platform Vimeo.
The 4th Act tells the story of the €1bn regeneration of Ballymun, a high-rise working-class community on the northside of Dublin, through the eyes of the community itself. Drawing on hundreds of hours of local and personal archive collated by Ballymun groups over the past four decades, the film explores themes of loss, community, hope and defiance as the residents of Ballymun watch their familiar landscape and way of living disappear. An innovative synthesis of archive and contemporary voices, the film features interviews with key policy-makers and planners in Dublin, Ireland and beyond, revealing the role ideology and politics played in the drastic transformation of 20,000 lives. Other contributors include international artists commissioned to produce works of exemplary value to the people of Ballymun, behavioural specialists hired by the local authority, and veteran community activists who saw a vibrant ecosystem of local organisations wither and vanish.
As part of the production, a large-scale 1:16 model of pre-regeneration Ballymun – complete with its iconic tower blocks, spine block, shopping centre and boiler house – was constructed in the town’s abandoned supermarket, in collaboration with the local community. This model was then opened to the public for three days in January, functioning as a touchstone for memory, nostalgia and regret. The film also features the story of an abortive oral history project – halted by the regeneration company in controversial circumstances after it presented its draft manuscript.
Throughout, evocative archive footage shows Ballymun’s iconic high-rise landscape as a space of togetherness, hope, anguish and despair. The film explores the use of Ballymun by the Irish film and TV industry as a visual metaphor for working-class alienation and drug-abusing nihilism and examines the consequences such depictions had for the community’s perception of itself. The 4th Act climaxes with the harrowing experience of the very last resident of Ballymun’s tower blocks, as the local authority seeks to remove her from her home of twenty years. Her plight becomes an apt metaphor for a community turned on its head – for the second time in a generation – by the whims of planners and politicians.
The 4th Act is directed by Turlough Kelly and produced by Andrew Keogh for Bread & Circus. The film was funded by Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry. and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.