Guaranteed to be the Irish film of 2014 for many, the heart-rending but ultimately uplifting documentary Unbreakable charts a couple's journey as they try to move beyond the tragedy and trauma that became the reality of their lives. Indeed, such is the impact on the viewer that many of the worries that clog up our heads and hearts are rendered trivial while watching – a reminder to be thankful for what, and more importantly, who we have. As Pollock himself says: "Basically, you just need good people around you." His are among the greats.
Blind since the age of 22, Pollock had established himself as one of Ireland's top adventure athletes and professional speakers with achievements including the Gobi March, Everest Marathon, North Pole Marathon and South Pole Race. In 2010, just four weeks before his planned wedding to fiancée Simone George, he fell out a second-storey window and as a result of the fall was paralysed from the waist down.
Having survived severe infections, Pollock reached the crucial 12-week milestone for spinal injuries without signs of improvement, and with determination seeming minuscule in comparison to the abyss. "I cried every day for three months," he says. "I cried every second day for the next three months." But he didn't give up. There to capture the good moments amongst the bad days was Ross Whitaker, the director of the 2010 documentary about Pollock's trip to the South Pole, Blind Man Walking. The title of that film was to become their fuel for this one.
It truly feels trite to say anything about Unbreakable other than to go see it - it may fix and focus more for you than seems possible. As Pollock and the equally remarkable George devote themselves to the physical and scientific work needed to change the lives of millions worldwide, your own hopes and plans for the future start taking greater shape - now that's inspirational cinema. Just before the final credits roll, Pollock says something that's as much for us as it is him: "Like everything, the end is just the start."
Unbreakable is currently on tour nationwide. There will be a Q&A after many of these screenings below with director Ross Whitaker and Mark Pollock.
October 5–9 2014 – Dublin – Lighthouse Cinema Smithfield
October 6 2014 – Cork – Gate Cinema with Q&A
October 7 2014 – Waterford – Garter Lane Arts Centre with Q&A
October 8 2014 – Thurles – Source Arts Centre with Q&A
October 9 2014 – Birr – Offline Film Festival with Q&A
October 12 2014 – Galway – Town Hall Theatre with Q&A
October 17 2014 – Dublin – UCD Cinema
October 20 2014 – Drogheda – Droichead Arts Centre with Q&A
October 22 2014 – Portlaoise -Dunamaise Arts Centre
October 23 2014 – Naul – Seamus Ennis Centre with Q&A
October 24 2014 – Donegal – Dunfanaghy Workhouse
October 25 2014 – Belfast – Queen's Film Theatre with Q&A
October 26 2014 – Belfast – Queen's Film Theatre
October 28 2014 – Bray – Mermaid Arts Centre with Q&A TBC
November 3 2014 – Naas – The Moat Theatre with Q&A