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A wandering man (Jamie McClean) finds refuge with a charismatic carpenter (Dmitry Vinokurov) when he stops to help him build his chapel – a “safe place for the little ones.” While initially unsure about the enterprise, the wandering man is soon won over by the carpenter’s aspirations and stays to take care of the children who have come to live in the chapel. According to the filmmakers, this is an allegorical exploration on the original ideals of the Catholic Church. God Given Opportunity takes a terrifying and sadly all-too recognisable turn as a corrupt individual takes advantage of the trust placed in them.
God Given Opportunity, written and directed by Irish singer and writer Anne Marie Kelly, was created in response to the Papel visit to Ireland in 2018 and Kelly’s experience at the Stand 4 Truth demonstration which coincided with Pope Francis’ mass in the Phoenix Park. The central action of God Given Opportunity also coincides with a reorientation of the short’s point of view character, challenging the audience to reconsider what they have seen so far. Ignorance or naivety no longer flies, it seems. The short is not intended to entertain: it is intended rather, as Kelly says, to “prompt viewers to think about what child abuse really is, the evil that drives it and how the silence of the bystander enables it.”
Hard-hitting and carefully crafted, this Irish short is propelled by nuanced performances by McClean and Vinokurov, along with John Kelleher’s haunting soundscape. With its minimalist set and uncomfortable silences that will leave the viewer contemplating just what it is they are watching, God Given Opportunity is important viewing for a nation that is still grappling with its Catholic roots. It can currently be viewed on Vimeo: hopefully it will be shared far and wide.