Street Leagues director Daniel Holmes saw lockdown coming and promptly flew home to the US to be with his family. "This whole period has actually been really nice for us, " he says

I was still living in Dublin when it became clear that the lockdown was coming so I quickly arranged to fly home to Chicago to be closer to my family. After living in Ireland for the past eight years, I usually see my family just a few times a year so this whole period has actually been really nice for us. It's doubtful that we would ever get another opportunity to spend so much time together if this didn’t happen so my mindset from the start has been to just focus on the positives.  

Daniel Holmes: Back in the USA

We have a farm in Michigan a couple hours north of Chicago so we’ve primarily been based up here these past few months. There’s a lot of wildlife around, a pond to fish in, trails to walk through, and it’s been an ideal environment to take a step back from life as I knew it before.  

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There’s been plenty of writing, catching up on reading, and reincorporating all the daily habits that I thought I was too busy to do before like meditation and yoga. Although there’s a lot of 'normal’ life that I miss greatly, I’m overall grateful for this much-needed chance to reset. 

Daniel Holmes at work in Michigan

At the same time, I’m very aware of all the people who’ve been affected by Covid and our current restrictions much more severely than myself. So my business partner Matthew Toman and I have been doing what we can to help people who need it.  

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This includes our digital media agency Bankhouse Media doing free work for any charities or organisations working with communities affected by Covid, by collaborating with Enny Buono on a project called ReadyDonate, which has donated over 4000 meals to Dublin families in need, and donating 100% of our box office profits from the upcoming Street Leagues cinema release to the Irish Homeless Street Leagues charity to help them stay afloat during this time.  

Daniel on holidays with his family in Bozeman, Montana 

As for what I’ve been watching, The Criterion Channel has been a godsend and I’ve really enjoyed doing deep dives into some filmmakers that I hadn’t fully explored before. Shohei Imamura has become a new personal favourite of mine this way, along with the documentaries of Louis Malle. I also loved watching the series Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth which I’d recommend to anyone during these times. Lately though, most of my viewing has been hijacked by the return of NBA basketball which I’m very happy is back.

A happy scene from Street Leagues

Some of the favourite books I’ve read include Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (my Mom’s favourite book of all time that I finally got around to reading), which was fantastic. Verge is a collection of excellent short stories by Lidia Yuknavitch about characters on the fringes of society and I've a;so been enjoying The Complete Stories of JG Ballard.  

The film short Warm for Winter which will be shown with Street Leagues

On the non-fiction side, I’ve enjoyed getting into the work of Alan Watts which functions nicely as complementary reading to many of the ideas discussed in The Power of Myth. On the website, there’s an incredible blog series called The Story of Us that I would recommend to anyone trying to make some sense about how we got to where we’re at now. It’s written specifically about US society but most of its key points can be applied to anywhere.  

A jubilant scene from Street Leagues

It’s been interesting talking to friends of mine back in Ireland about all the similarities and differences between their experiences and ours in the US. Despite our paths somewhat diverging lately with how much turmoil the US is still in, there’s generally been a lot in common with the shared response between everyone I know from both countries.  

Colin Farrell and team-mates

Through most of those conversations, it seems clear that this period has given many of us an overdue opportunity to reappraise where we’re putting our energy and collectively identify the flaws in our societies that could use a lot more of it. 

The Women's team in Street Leagues

The documentary Street Leagues opens in cinemas on September 25, accompanied by the award winning eight-minute short Warm For WinterStreet Leagues tells the inspiring story of the Irish Homeless Street Leagues, where homeless people and recovering addicts use the power of sport to regain their self-worth and reclaim their lives. The documentary had its world premiere at the 2020 Dublin International Film Festival where it received a Special Commendation for Human Rights on Film in recognition by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.