2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: IT’S NOT YET DARK

it's not yet darkIT’S NOT YET DARK
Frankie Fenton chronicles a filmmaker’s determination to complete his first feature, despite a diagnosis of ALS.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

Soon after premiering his short film THE SOUND OF PEOPLE at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, promising young Irish director Simon Fitzmaurice was tragically diagnosed with motor neurone disease (ALS). At just 34 years old, he was given four years to live.

Fitzmaurice and his wife were expecting their third child, and a career in storytelling lay at his feet. Reeling from the shock, Fitzmaurice drew strength from his deepest desires – instead of being stuck in that painful moment, he realized his greatest defiance of ALS would be to direct his first feature film. Seven years later, despite total physical incapacitation, Fitzmaurice completed MY NAME IS EMILY (2015), directing it only with the use of his eyes.

This emotional journey of self-realization and personal triumph over life-crushing adversity is nothing short of inspiring. All of it is captured with intimate home movies, photographs, and an affectionate voice-over by compatriot Colin Farrell, transporting us into Fitzmaurice’s creative world where every physical and psychological challenge is met with positivity and the desire to fulfill a dream.

Some Background:

  • Frankie Fenton
    After editing a number of UK television series, this project marks Fenton’s directorial debut. The doc premiered this past Summer at the Galway Film Fleadh, where it picked up two awards.


  • Kathryn Kennedy and Lesley McKimm
    Kennedy and McKimm produced Fitzmaurice’s MY NAME IS EMILY, which debuted as Galway’s opening film and went on to screen at Toronto. This is the first project at Sundance for both.

Executive Producer:

  • Jackie Larkin
    Newgrange Pictures’ Larkin also served as an executive producer for EMILY.


  • Dermot Diskin
    This is also Diskin’s first Sundance project.

Why You Should Watch:
Fitzmaurice’s story, while serious and tragic, instead becomes the catalyst for an overwhelmingly uplifting journey that sees the love of film and the power of creativity defeat seemingly impossible goals and physical limitations alike.

More Info:
Meet the Artist

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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