School Life (99 min)
Directed by Neasa Ní Chianáin
August 31, 2017
Full Frame Theater @ American Tobacco
Film starts at 7:00 pm, Doors open at 6:30 pm
Free, ticket required
For more than 40 years, John and Amanda Leyden have taught children at Headfort, a rare Irish primary-age boarding school. When the film opens, the new school year is just beginning. Boys and girls bid farewell to their parents, the pangs of their uncertainty palpable. But the air of possibility hovers above the creaking floorboards—here, there is potential for each and every child. Over the course of a year, we observe the wonder the Leydens bring to their classrooms and roll with the joys and challenges that the changing seasons bring their young pupils. The film also captures the essence of the spaces they occupy—most poignantly a band clubroom where John spends hours desperately coaching inharmonious musicians through pop song melodies. Throughout, the couple delicately navigate the needs of their young wards, sharing the occasional cigarette while they discuss the intricacies of instilling both scholastic rigor and emotional support. With grace and humor, this vérité portrait submerges us in the ebb and flow of this special place and two teachers at the heart of its magic.