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by Pamela Cohn
“I’ve been able to develop more of a sense of being from somewhere by not being there…. Your nationality starts to feel like a more important part of you when you’re away from home.” Writer, director, and editor Donal Foreman splits his time between his native Dublin and Brooklyn, his home for close to a decade. Debuting in 2017, The Image You Missed is his first feature documentary, a fictional memoir of Donal’s complex relationship with his filmmaker father, Arthur MacCaig. MacCaig, the son of Irish immigrants, was a documentary filmmaker born in New Jersey in 1948. He made his home in Paris most of his adult life but centered much of his work on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. MacCaig made 20 films between 1979 and 2005 and died in Belfast in 2008 at the age of 60. After his father’s death, Donal went to Paris and immersed himself in his father’s private archive, the one he had left behind in his apartment. As Donal went through Arthur’s possessions and artifacts, a reverberant dialogue began to take hold in Donal’s imagination, a conversation between the young filmmaker and his deceased father about the legacy of this archive that spanned the course of 30 years of Irish history. When Donal was still quite little, the small amount of exposure and access he had to Arthur was cut off completely by Arthur’s new wife. As a result, The Image You Missed is a meticulously hand-made, achingly evocative piece about a son coming to terms about who his father was as a man and as an artist, his elusiveness throughout most of Donal’s life and their common choice of profession the spaces within which Donal crafts a complex and unending conversation.
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