Pavee Lackeen means “The Traveller Girl”. It’s a documentary-style film released in 2005 that depicts the life of a young Irish Traveller girl (Winnie Maughan) and her family. The Maughan family are all played by themselves, with only a small number of professional actors, living in a caravan cited near the docks by a noisy roundabout in the outskirts of Dublin.
Unlike most films you’ll see this year, there’s no strong plot driving the storyline. Instead, it’s observational. You witness Winnie’s desire for education frustrated by the playground fights and her expulsion from the Traveller’s school she attends. Every bureaucrat that comes to the caravan is a disappointment.
The social workers can’t get Winnie into a better school. The housing officer can only offer a house in a known rough area. Even someone in the Maughan’s extended family who campaigns for Travellers’ justice is less than satisfactory in sorting out their housing problems.
And then there’s the council who want to evict the camp off their land and away from their legal obligations—so they promise a better,safer site further on down the road “away from the busy roundabout” with running water, but instead move the caravans onto land owned privately by the docks, with rats and no running water.
It’s a low budget film, shot entirely on video. Yet it’s a startlingly real film, showing squalor, prejudice and oppression in a non-sentimental way. But the images are compelling, and the challenge uncompromising.
Now Winnie and her family probably aren’t the most hungry or thirsty people in Dublin. But they were asking for help, and were offered some, but it never delivered.
Our oh-so-modern and politically correct society still fails to treat everyone equally and with justice? And don't we, as individuals, struggle to reject our own prejudices? Why the lack of wholeheartedness when faced with discrimination and injustice?
Pavee Lackeen has gone down well at Irish and European festivals. Its director and co-writer, Perry Ogden, won an IFTA Award in the category of Breakthrough Talent in 2005. Winnie was nominated for Best Actress in a Feature Film in the same awards.
Although Pavee Lackeen was given a PG certificate by the Irish Film Censor’s Office, it was given a 15 certificate in the UK, so some of you might see it sooner than others! Oh, and it’s subtitled … though I think you’ll catch the sometimes colourful nature of what everyone’s saying.
Given that the QFT has already shown it, finding a screening might be tough. But if you do see it, or read about it, hopefully it’ll make you think too.
Official Pavee Lackeen website.