Capturing the lives of a group of Primary Schools students across an incredibly turbulent year, the documentary Giant Steps is releasing online this Friday for Galway 2020.
This film by Des Kilbane follows nine students from 6th class of Scoil Bhríde Primary School, Shantalla in Galway City during a transition point in their lives, and in Ireland as a whole over 2019 and 2020.
This heart-warming look at everyday school life follows them on adventures including taking pride in and tending the school garden, touring of City Hall to learn about the workings of local government, and learning wire walking with Galway Community Circus.
Scoil Bhríde is a “microcosm” of the cultural diversity that makes up Galway, Des explains, with kids of over 31 nationalities represented in its halls.
“The creativity in that school is evident and symbolises Galway, which is why I was excited to be a part of it.”
Filming on Giant Steps began in September 2019, and was originally to follow the lives and excitement of these students as they finished primary school, and made the transition to secondary level.
During what was to be a year of triumph for Galway, it was planned that the film would end with the young students taking part in the Wires Crossed event for Galway 2020, walking a tightrope across the Corrib.
But instead their school lives, and filming for the documentary itself were upended by COVID-19, which interrupted filming for six months.
Following on from that, Giant Steps catches up with our nine budding stars in October 2020 as they settle into first year in various secondary schools across the city, and find out how they coped from when the first lockdown hit Ireland last year.
Des Kilbane said “We had the opportunity to talk about how COVID has changed their lives, how they were finding life in secondary school, where they had moved from being big fish in a small pond to being little fish in a fast-flowing ocean. This made it a very different story.
Scoil Bhríde Principal Frank Keane, who also took part in the project, said that he had great respect for those students, adding that they “lead by example” and others follow.
“They represent all of the other children and represent the school community here with distinction. They handled this crisis with real courage. My admiration for them is huge, not just as children but as people.”
DesK Productions, a Galway City based film production company, has created a number of short and feature length documentaries including the 2013 feature documentary A Fighting Heart – Croi Trodach.
Commissioned by TG4, this went on to win Best Sports Documentary at the 2014 Celtic Media Festival.
Des’ follow up feature documentary Kilbanetown Comeback premiered at the 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival, and he then went on to produce and co-direct Crossing the Black Atlantic for TG4.
Giant Steps is part of the Small Towns Bid Ideas strand of programming from the adapted Galway 2020.
It will be available to view online on their website from February 19, and will remain there until March 21.
Marilyn Gaughan Reddan, Head of Programme at Galway 2020 said “Our children have had to adapt to a new way of living, a new way of life and a new way of being.
“This has been a really tough time for them I am so impressed with these incredible young people and how they have responded to so much change at such a crucial time in their lives”.
“We are really grateful to them all, their parents and to Des and Frank for allowing their journey to be documented in this way, a digital time capsule that I know we will look back on in years to come as a pivotal time in all our lives.”