Filmmaker Luke McManus has directed numerous award-winning documentary and drama projects for the likes of NBC, Netflix, RTÉ, Virgin MediaTV/TV3, TG4, Al Jazeera and Channel 4, winning four IFTAs, one Celtic Media Award and the Radharc Award in the process.

Now he's making his feature debut with North Circular, a documentary exploring the people and music of Dublin's North Circular Road. released at selected cinemas nationwide from December 2nd.

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We asked Luke for his choice cultural picks...

FILM

I was recently dragged out on a Sunday night to the Irish Film Institute by the producer David Rane to watch Simon Chambers' Much Ado About Dying - an incredibly intimate, amusing and humane portrait of the final years of the filmmaker’s uncle David. It just won the Best Director prize at the prestigious International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and it was richly deserved.

When All Is Ruin Once Again by Keith Walsh is a spell-binding, complex and lyrical documentary about the communities of Crusheen and Gort where he lives. It contains multitudes - rent/buy it on YouTube.

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Collective, a Romanian documentary about the Bucharest equivalent of the Stardust fire was tremendously multi-layered.

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I’m also looking forward to seeing All The Beauty And The Bloodshed, the Laura Poitras documentary on Nan Goldin and the Sackler family (of opioid crisis infamy).

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MUSIC

If I’m honest, the passing of well-known musicians rarely touches my heart but the death of Low’s Mimi Parker cast a heavy shadow. I’ve been listening to their masterpiece The Great Destroyer all week.

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I’m loving the 90s hip-hop revival - a consolation of age is that the kids eventually get into the stuff you liked the first time round. I will always be indebted to the great Kevin Murphy who allowed me to plunder the back catalogue of his amazing Seti The First and Blind Stitch projects for the incidental music in North Circular. And I’ve just introduced my eight year old son to the guilty pleasures of Iron Maiden.

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BOOK

Getting into a Zoom book club was a positive spin-off of COVID. It made me read a few hard-but-rewarding-ones that I probably wouldn’t have managed under my own steam - Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse springs to mind.

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I was fascinated by Free, Lea Ypi’s memoir of family life in Hoxha’s Albania and I’m really looking forward to Mark O’Connell’s new book as well as Underwater, the Dublin novelist Fiona McPhillips' debut which just got two huge deals in the UK and the US

THEATRE

I loved Stanley Townsend’s bravura one man performance in Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones at the Abbey. A funny, sad, perceptive journey into a man’s time on earth.

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TV

My son had a deeply annoying iCarly addiction which has recently been usurped by something far, far better - the daytime quiz show The Chase. He likes it for the pantomime villains and Bradley Walsh’s "really funny jokes" - I come for the just-challenging-enough trivia questions. It’s a lovely shared joy. I’m now trying to figure out how I get a gig as a Chaser. I’ve already got a persona created. "I’m the Director - and I’m calling "CUT!"

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I love a solid old school documentary series and watched The Death Of Yugoslavia a while back. It’s a BBC behemoth from the 1990s with interviews from all the major players. It would never get made today but it is an incredible capture of a time when thuggish nationalist leaders went on a vicious spree of destruction and hate and the subsequent painstaking process to stabilise the situation. Milosevic and his gang reminded me of the Brexit crowd in England. A dreadful shower.

The Bear was an amazing white knuckle ride through life in a kitchen, and we were late to the Mare Of Easttown party but it had us gripped, too.

GIG

I’m really not as much of a gig goer as I used to be - if I get out of an evening I generally like to go to the pictures, but the last gig I attended was last night - two brilliant folk musicians called Nick & Willy who played after the London screening of my film North Circular in the basement of a great little art deco pub called The Duke in Bloomsbury. I saw Dara O’Briain’s new show and it is the most meaningful, personal and resonant work he has ever done.

I missed out on Lankum at Vicar Street tickets which is annoying, and I’m hoping to see the TBL8 Brass Band again soon, they really rocked the Thor Place Picnic at the Stoneybatter Festival last summer.

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ART

Photography is what I really go for these days - I love Photo Museum Ireland (formerly the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar), it is small but perfectly formed and you can get in and out in ten minutes if you want to refresh your visual palette.

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PODCAST

I’m a big fan of podcasts - Kermode & Mayo and No Film School are my weapons of choice for reviews and industry insights respectively. I introduced my father to another favourite, the old-school braininess of Radio 4’s In Our Time when he had an eye operation that meant he temporarily couldn’t read (his idea of hell).

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Three Castles Burning and the Irish History Podcast are two outstanding Irish listens on history and Ian Lynch’s Fire Draw Near brings deep dives into scratchy archive recordings of ancient songs - it is superb musical archaeology.

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If Gemma Dunleavy’s Up De Flats was a podcast it would be Talking Bollox: Calvin O’Brien & Terence Power are a pair of funny, passionate and smart young lads from the North Inner City with a lot to say that is worth hearing. I’m delighted to see them winning awards and selling out Vicar Street.

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Guardian Football Weekly, Off The Ball, Second Captains and the Anfield Wrap all pour petrol onto the Liverpool FC fire that continually burns inside and its nice to keep up with Bohs, and the Irish football and rugby teams too. Marc Maron is the king of the form. And a little shout to the late Peter Bogdanovich, I loved his journey through cinema in the first season of TCM’s The Plot Thickens.

TECH

I’m in England right now and so impressed with TheTrainLine where you can find the right train, book the tickets and scan the QR code to get on board - totally seamless. Shazam is still blowing my mind ten years on. Brand New Retro is a magic online treasure trove of antique pop culture from Ireland. I’ve just arrived on TikTok - it’s deeply sinister on so many levels - it appears to upload your entire phone to the Chinese government from what I can see, but it is also compelling and the algorithm is scarily well-tuned. Darragh, the camera trainee on North Circular has over a quarter of a million followers on TikTok - it is overturning the hierarchy in a remarkable way.

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THE NEXT BIG THING...

Deliberative democracy and sortition (government by lot). The current problems of representative democracy go far beyond just Twitter and nativist populism in my view. When elections start producing leaders like Trump and Johnson you know that we have a problem. The idea of a Parliament is ultimately a 12th century creation, and though it has to continue as a vital institution, it is in dire need of a refresh. The move to abolish the Seanad was a misguidedly negative attempt at reform - what if we had replaced it with a citizens assembly where 100 randomly chosen citizens went to Leinster House to sit in the second chamber? That would be a game changer David van Reybrouck the Belgian intellectual made a convincing case for this in his book: Against Elections: The Case for Democracy, which I recommend.

North Circular is in selected cinemas nationwide from December 2nd.