It's funny how old people are viewed differently in various cultures. In some parts of the world they're revered for their knowledge and experience, while in others they're treated like unwanted idiots. Older Than Ireland director Alex Fegan is definitely someone who sees the elderly in a positive light.
Fegan came to prominence in 2013 when his documentary film The Irish Pub, was released to emphatic critical acclaim. Focusing on the characters that run pubs across the country and the reasons that makes the local such a unique experience, it offered an insight into an Ireland far removed from Valley accents and Kardashian consumerism.
This time around Fegan's taken a similar approach to a different demographic: as the title suggests, this particular human mosaic covers the last one hundred years, as seen through the eyes and experiences of thirty Irish centenarians.
What comes across again is Fegan's empathy: here is a truly compelling documentary-maker. He's not trying to make himself look smart or clever; he knows he's not the story. In fact, his approach is to be as unobtrusive as possible so that the contributors to Older than Ireland shine through, which they do in spades.
Basically, each centenarian answers a series of off-camera questions, on such key events in their lives as the day they got their first pair of shoes, the thrill of their first kiss, and such pivotal moments as their wedding day to the tragic loss of their loved ones. It also offers a glimpse into the lives of centenarians, some of whom are able to look after themselves and lead independent lives, and others who
Older Than Ireland is peppered with wise words, great memories, plenty of humour, a lot of energy and - cue the Kleenex - one of the saddest true stories I've ever heard. If you're not moved by this film, you're not human.
Poignant, funny, fantastic . . . Oh, just go and see it.