‘Novena’ is the Irish short film capturing a truly groundbreaking event – when Fr. Michael Cusack invited members of the LGBT community to speak at the country’s biggest festival of the Catholic faith.
The theme of the annual Novena mass at St. Joseph’s Redemptorist Church in Dundalk was “The Courage To Be Yourself”, and in an unprecedented move Fr. Michael invited Stephen Vaughan and Kay Ferriter to talk to the congregation about their experiences of being gay and lesbian in Ireland and feeling excluded by the Catholic church. Award winning filmmaker Anna Rodgers felt that this first-of-it’s-kind event needed to be caught on film.
Anna explains, “I’d never heard a priest say something positive about being gay or lesbian in my life, or heard the words even mentioned at mass growing up. The idea of two people coming into an Irish church to speak about identifying as gay from the altar – and for that speech to be a positive one – represented a seismic shift for me, and one that I saw as groundbreaking.”
After failing to secure funding for the project, Anna was so adamant that the event needed to be documented, that she funded the film out of her own pocket.
“Making a documentary without funding is always challenging,” said Anna. “We worked with some really talented people and I tried to make sure people got paid something. If you want to do something justice, it’s important to do it right.”
Working closely with her regular collaborator (and brother) Hugh Rodgers, she assembled a small crew to travel to Dundalk to shoot. Anna and her crew were the only media present at the event.
Novena was screened as a work in progress at GAZE Film Festival last year where it was joint winner of the Spirit of the Festival award with other Irish short films , and even won Best Documentary at The Kerry Film Festival. However, still a work in progress, there are now costs that they cannot afford alone. Anna has started a Fund:it campaign in an effort to raise the money needed to complete the short film.
“We tried to get funding from numerous bodies, but it’s difficult and short films like this often fall between the cracks. We knew we couldn’t let that happen to this story.
“If successful with our Fund:it campaign we will use the money to clear the music rights which is the biggest single outlay. We also need to do a picture grade, a sound mix, and there are mastering costs to create tapes and digital files to distribute the film to festivals.”
If you are in a position to donate, please visit Fund:it.
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