As part of our partnership with the Dublin International Film Festival, several Media students were given the opportunity to screen and review films appearing at the festival. Here, Lance Kerrigan reviews the documentary Is Anybody Out There?
Taking us on a journey through 2020, we explore the lives of several young people from different backgrounds and their experiences living with lockdown and COVID-19. Using archive and video diary footage, this 72-minute production pieces together a raw and authentic time-capsule of a bizarre and uncertain 'year like no other.'
Is There Anybody Out There? offers a very interesting roundup of life during COVID-19 and an invaluable collection of unfiltered real-world stories. It's a truly authentic documentary. One can relate to the chronicles of everyday living and empathise with the struggles faced by the documentary’s characters. It demonstrates how our behaviours helped shape the COVID landscape.
I understand the approach and technique the creators attempted to achieve in how they produced this film; however, I do feel the approach hindered the film's full potential. Transitioning from scene to scene was chaotic and hard to follow, and although the nature of the film was to give a sense of this chaos and uncertainty, the execution of the footage felt more like a stack of random video extracts compiled together rather than a carefully planned film. The direction of this production may have better been suited as a series of vlogs rather than a feature-length film. Be that as it may, future generations will probably appreciate it more to experience the moment as it happened, for now, it is too raw a subject for us to truly appreciate. I would have appreciated a primary narrator guiding us through the film, adding context and introducing us to whom we are watching.
I will conclude by saying this film is an investment in longer-term knowledge. I do appreciate the sentiment the film offers but feel an audience not living through the experience of COVID-19 may appreciate it more. But for those interested in recounting 2020 or who require an insight into real-life stories for ongoing documentaries or research, its a well worth watch now.