You Say Nothing

When conflict erupts in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1969 two brothers facing violence at home withdraw into their own fantasy world to escape The Troubles.

The streets were a dangerous place for anyone what with constant bombings and shootings, but there was no sanctuary at home for these boys.

Their father has become a violent evil man due to the destitute nature of life in The Bogside.

Kathleen, Coll & Sean’s mother has no one to protect her from her husband’s wrath. She is helpless to prevent the family from disintegrating.

The film opens in a speech therapist’s office. Kathleen hints to a ‘knock to the head’ being the reason why Coll says nothing.

When he returns home he is immediately confronted by the man who’s fists have silenced this poor boy.

So as not receive the same fate as his brother Sean has to stand aside as the father’s fury is unleashed. He drags Coll to a forest once their father is done with him to play their favourite game “Best Fallers”.

Directors Vision

When Coll told me about his early life the spark was lit to make this film.

I am a father of 2 young children, so to hear his ordeal first hand, how he hid the pain to protect his mother affected me deeply.

We went to Derry together. I brought the DP and my co-writer.

He took us to the estate where he grew up. He described his “Dirty Old Town” back how it was in the late 1960’s.

My goal was to recreate the grit, the feeling of destitution, to make it look like it was shot back in the day. The cinematography, the production and costume design were all inspired by a lot of research, and I mean a lot of research.

When Isaac arrived at the casting, which we held in a small theatre in Belfast I knew instantly he was Coll. I could sense it in his eyes, his demeanor.

When I eventually put Isaac and Conan together they bounced off of each other immediately. They’d spoken to their respective families about The Troubles, heard what it was like – things they had never spoken about before. It affected them.

I feel incredibly honoured to tell this story. Coll hadn’t been home for 30 years. He never saw his mother again after he left Derry in the mid 1970’s, and when she passed away in 1997 he still felt he could not return.

I wonder how Coll will feel seeing his mother portrayed on screen.I know his one regret is that he never got to say goodbye to her. He dealt with the pain that was dished out – he survived and now thrives.

Hopefully in making a film about this passage of his life it will resonate with others who have been affected by the same treatment. They will see that you can get out, you can be free, you don’t have to say nothing.