Artist Name(s) Desperate Optimists (Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy)
Artwork title HELEN

HELEN is a story about an 18-year-old girl, Helen, as she prepares to leave the care order she has been subject to since she was an infant. Unsure as to her readiness to enter into the wider world, Helen finds herself alone and directionless.  Out of the blue, an opportunity comes her way, an opportunity that will have a profound impact on her and her future.   

Using the methodologies employed in Civic Life, their highly acclaimed and award winning series of short films, Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor have created a feature length film. They have worked closely with communities across the four cities to create the finished film. It is this collaborative approach that creates the feel of the film. Filmed on 35mm cinemascope in their signature long take style HELEN is a thoughtful and lyrical film as well as compelling in its surprising and layered take on a teenager. The filmmakers worked with communities in Dublin, NewcastleGateshead, Liverpool and Birmingham in conjunction with NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Tyneside Cinema, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, the Liverpool Culture Company and Birmingham City Council.

Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor: "The thematic connection that binds these four cities is not arbitrary but rather purposeful. Each city is undergoing significant regeneration, both social and economic, which makes them ideal to bring together in this single cinematic narrative, which examines issues of social and personal history. This ‘bringing together’ will be evidenced not only in the story but also in the choice of locations that have a remarkable consistency from city to city. To this end, the cities appear to have more in common than would at first appear with the filmmakers deliberately choosing locations in each of the four cities that conjure up a shared vision, in cinematic terms, of urban regeneration and cities in transition.  The interchanging also extends to the cast which is comprised of people from the four cities, most of whom have never been in a film before."


Born in Dublin, Desperate Optimists, Christine Molloy (b 1965) and Joe Lawlor (b 1963) studied theatre in the UK in the late 80s. From 1992 to 1999 they devised, directed and performed in six internationally acclaimed touring theatre shows before shifting their attention towards moving image based work. Between 2000 and 2003 they directed a number of episodic, interactive works for the internet, and large-scale community video projects for galleries. Between 2003 and 2010 Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, produced, wrote and directed 10 acclaimed short films, under the title CIVIC LIFE. All shot on 35mm, the CIVIC LIFE films have screened extensively around the world including screenings at the 33rd Telluride Film Festival, the 36th International Film Festival Rotterdam, the 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival and IndieLisboa'09. HELEN, their debut feature film, premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2008 before screening at over 50 film festivals worldwide.

Commission Type Regeneration Agency,Other
Commissioner Name Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Newcastle-Gateshead, Liverpool & Birmingham City Councils
Project commission dates May 31, 2007 - November 1, 2007
Public Presentation dates March 31, 2008 - January 1, 1970
Partners Newcastle-Gateshead, Liverpool, Birmingham City Councils
Artform Film
Funded By Other
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 31/05/2007
Project commission end date 01/11/2007
County Dublin
Website www.desperateoptimists.com/helen/
Content contributor(s) Dara O'Leary
Relationship to project Dublin Docklands Development Authority Arts Co-ordinator 



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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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