“Oh, God, I’d love to be a singer. ”
“I’m a great believer, Jolene, that if you enjoy doing something, do it for love of it, don’t look what comes out the other end. Like, I was in the book business for over 40 years. I didn’t go into it for to make any economic fortunes, which is nice. I done it because I loved it.”
I’m writing this article from Belfast: an hour ago I sat on the sofa in the living room and I enjoyed the 55 minutes of this documentary that some months ago my friend Annarita suggested me, “The bookseller of Belfast“. When she advised me I watched the trailer and immediatly understood I needed some peaceful time to watch and enjoy it: I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) put it in the short space between a task and another. It was clear from the beginning that a movie of this kind has to be experienced; even more for me, since I know Belfast, but not that good. I tasted its atmosphere, but I couldn’t live it truly. Until now, that I’m writing from one of those typical houses in the south-east of the city, between a Tesco supermarket and a park. It’s incredible how, trying to cut off a quiet moment to commit to this little portrait of a city, all, in some way, went to fit perfectly.
The documentary by Alessandra Celesia McIldruff points out some of Belfast’s key elements: books, music and history. You will see few of the physical city, but a lot of its soul. Following the story of the bookseller John Clancy, or John the Book, you will know also those of Jolene, waitress and student with the dream of becoming a singer, Robert, punk with the passion for classical music, Italy and Far West, and Connor, rapper with scars and a love for his city. All these people have more in common than just a place: the link between them and the bookseller of Belfast is to follow their dreams. On the background the city, with its well know, challenged history that still hurts and scare sometimes, and into the foreground little, big happenings: the bed that Clancy doesn’t want to change because in it his mother died and, if God wants, he will die too, the attendance of Jolene to X-Factor, the daily life of Robert and Connor. And the love for books, that “John the Book” cures, follows, memorizes and tells, like stories in the story. The terrible burning of his library, which disappeared in an attack: “The soul of Belfast was burned on 27th of May 1974. And it will never return.” whispers Clancy leafing through a book, “People don’t realise what was burnt in that shop.” Then, almost like a mantra, he continues to whisper: “These days are over.” while the pages of Belfast’s history go by.
I recommend the view to all those who would want to know more about the northern irish capital: this is an accurate portrait of life, the people’s one and not the one on news or tourism guides, in Northern Ireland.
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