Pavee Lackeen (The Traveller Girl)

Director: Perry Ogden

Ireland| 2005. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 87 min.

Perry Ogden’s courageous, luminous feature debut Pavee Lackeen concerns ten-year-old Winnie (Winnie Maughan). She lives with her mother and several siblings in a rotting roadside trailer in one of Dublin’s abandoned industrial suburbs. Over a period of a few weeks, we are invited through her into the rhythms of Traveller life. We see her family confront the law, the housing authorities and the school bureaucracy, none of which are equipped to deal with itinerant people. One particularly breathtaking scene, in which Winnie’s mother negotiates the purchase of a new trailer from another Traveller, plays out with a sense of suspicion and a linguistic pop that even recalls the work of David Mamet.
Pavee Lackeen brilliantly treads a line between documentary and fiction. The actors, all non-professionals drawn from the Traveller community, helped Ogden create the story and flesh out the characters. The film also looks extraordinary; its handheld images are perfectly framed and filled with a nuanced colour palette of browns and greys. Yet Ogden, a celebrated photographer, never exoticises the Travellers into ‘designer ethnic’ creatures. He has also published a book of photographs documenting the fascinating subculture of Traveller boys who raise and ride horses in Ireland’s deprived urban sprawls; these images share with Pavee Lackeen an exquisite, dignified beauty that could only come from a visual thinker of Ogden’s talent.

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