Irish Film Institute -FORTUNE’S WHEEL


Director: JOE LEE

76 minutes, Ireland, 2015, Colour, D-Cinema

This film was released on Friday 5th June 2015 and is no longer screening. 


Fortune’s Wheel brings to life the remarkable, implausible story of a Fairview lion-tamer in Dublin in the 1950s. Bill Stephens was an ordinary young Dubliner, with an extraordinary dream – to become a skilled animal trainer and a big circus star. The dream became a reality for him and a nightmare for the people of Fairview when one of his lions escaped onto the crowded streets in November 1951. This is also a love story about Bill’s teenage marriage to his beautiful partner Mai from neighbouring East Wall.

Their double act, “Jungle Capers, Bill Stephens and Lovely Partner“, was a series of death-defying feats performed with a troupe of lions and dogs. With this act they hoped to break free from the suffocating reality of Irish life in the early 1950s. But their dream was short-lived. Joe Lee’s wholly engaging documentary finally brings this ripping tale, which has lived in community memory for over 60 years, onto the big screen.

Winner of The Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Irish Documentary at the Jameson Dublin Film Festival 2015.

[Podcast] Listen to Fortune’s Wheel director and team discuss the film HERE


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