What we do
We spoke with Kathleen Warde as she works on her short documentary as part of the 2023 Misleór Short Doc Grant. Kathleen, who also goes by Kate, is a photographer from Tuam capturing weddings and christenings and other important family and local events. She’s been interested in taking photos since she was a teenager where she remembers going around with her camera and rolls of film capturing – literally – everything she could.
It’s only in the last two years, with a push from those around her, that Kathleen has put herself out there and started taking professional bookings. She bought herself a professional camera and her first gig was a wedding of 11 people during lockdown. Through word of mouth and social media, Kathleen has started to get a steady flow of bookings. As one of the first, if not the first, Traveller women in Ireland and the UK to work as a professional photographer, she is a pioneer in her own right, and she is also paving the way for other Traveller women coming after her who might be interested in this career.
It was while photographing a Galway Traveller Movement event in Ballinasloe in 2022 – Reimaging Life on the Road – that Kathleen first heard about the Misleór Short Documentary Grant, now in its third year. The scheme offers a grant and mentorship, along with the opportunity to premiere the piece as part of the Misleór Festival of Nomadic Cultures taking place from September 28th– October 1st, 2023.
Kathleen’s initial idea when she applied for the grant was to tell stories from three or four individuals about the Traveller way of life, but on chatting to one individual, Annie McDonagh, who’s sister Biddie passed away a couple of months ago, she found that there was a full story to be told by Biddie’s family.
It was a sudden passing following a cancer diagnosis, and Biddie’s death was a big shock to her sister Annie – her best friend – and the rest of their family. Kathleen’s short documentary explores that close bond between the McDonaghs, and the mourning period that follows a sudden death in the family.
Misleór co-director Alice McDowell supported Kathleen through the first days of filming, and following this, Kathleen spent time with freelance documentary editor Julie Flavin, watching back and pulling out key moments, and getting the piece down to between 5 and 15 minutes. Kathleen felt that she didn’t have the computer skills to take on this part of the process, so the editing support as part of the mentorship was key. While she has really enjoyed putting the piece together, the technical side of editing is something that she feels would hinder her moving into film work over photography. Photography is where she would like to focus her sights and she’d like to get some training in the craft.
Kathleen is looking forward to having her short documentary My Sister, My Best Friend screened at Misleór Festival of Nomadic Cultures on Friday, September 28th, 2023, at 8pm, at An Taibhdhearc as part of the Nomadic Shorts programme. You can book tickets here: Nomadic Shorts — Misleór Festival of Nomadic Cultures (misleor.ie) She will also have her photography work on show as part of the Reimagining Life on the Road exhibition at Galway City Museum, running over the same weekend.
The Misleór Short Documentary Grant is supported by Misléor, Galway Traveller Movement, Ardán, Galway City of Film, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, and the Department of Tourism, Arts & Culture.
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