Lightdox has picked up Luke McManus’ musical ode to contemporary Dublin, “North Circular,” which will have its international premiere at Sheffield DocFest.

In this melodic black and white postcard, the audience travels along Dublin’s North Circular Road and meets some of the area’s enigmatic inhabitants. Personal testimonies touching on subjects from colonialism, mental health and addiction to women’s empowerment and gentrification are embodied in folk songs. Atmospherically conveying Ireland’s turbulent past and present, the filmmaker has composed a heartfelt love letter to Dublin.

The film includes musical performances from artists local to the North Circular, including John Francis Flynn, Séan Ó Túama, Eoghan O’Ceannabháin, Ian Lynch and Gemma Dunleavy.

McManus previously attended Sheffield DocFest as a producer of “The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid,” and now returns with his feature debut as a director. The film premiered at Dubin Intl. Film Festival, where it won the Special Mention Award given by the documentary jury.

McManus says: “ ‘North Circular’ is a personal film. I have lived just off the road itself for two decades and remain fascinated by its variety, by its contradictions, by the competing tensions that it finds within itself. […] There are numerous themes, characters and issues bubbling beneath the surface of the North Circular Road when you walk along it. A certain darkness at times, a celebratory energy at others: this single road encompasses so much diversity of human experience. This film will only ever be a glimpse of life on a couple of moments in the complex history of this multi-faceted place.”

“North Circular” is a Reel Art film, produced by Elaine Gallagher and Luke McManus of Madhouse Films, funded by the Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon.

Anna Berthollet, founder and CEO of Lightdox, comments: “Visually and sonically striking, we were absolutely captivated by Luke McManus’ beautiful directorial debut from the first glimpse. ‘North Circular’ is a film that shines such depth and complexity on bigger subjects like gentrification, community and history through touching personal stories, creating a love letter to this iconic place which has a turbulent history as well as present.”

McManus has produced and directed award-winning projects for NBC, Netflix, RTÉ, Virgin Media Television, TG4, NDR/ARD, Al Jazeera and Channel 4, winning four IFTAs, one Celtic Media Award and the Radharc Award in the process.

His debut feature as a producer was “The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid,” which premiered in the Main Competition at IDFA in 2018, won the George Morrison Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Irish Film and Television Awards, and the Best Irish Film Award at the Dublin Intl. Film Festival.