The London Gala screening of Lost and Found is at Genesis, Mile End on 23rd October followed by a Q&A with Liam O Mochain. 6.30-8.40pm
BY CHARLOTTE DAVEY
If writers should stick to what they know, Liam O Mochain has certainly done so in his new film, in which loss is a central theme. He is good at losing things. Back in the 90s while working on an early film, The Book that Wrote Itself, he camped out in a tent with his wife and all his recording equipment during filming to save on accommodation costs. During the trip, his tent flooded, the equipment was wrecked, and a whole chunk of footage was lost. When we meet, he is watching his rucksack like a hawk, convinced that if it leaves his sight he’ll forget about it and leave it behind, never to be seen again. Though his new film has been six years in the making, one thing O Mochain didn’t lose during the protracted filming process was hope. The result is Lost and Found, a funny, poignant and unique film.
Made on a tiny budget, Lost and Found was filmed for four days at a time over five years. In between filming, O Mochain would work for a year to raise enough money to shoot the next section, hoping that he wouldn’t lose the actors to other commitments from year to year.
Set in the lost and found office of a train station in an Irish commuter town, the film opens with characters handing in all manner of lost property from a wallet, to a prosthetic leg, to a wailing baby. As the film progresses, the characters’ stories become ever more intertwined. The eerie coincidences and few degrees of separation that link the characters feel somehow far more plausible when set in a small Irish town than they would in a city like London. But while such a close sense of community may feel alien to some city dwellers, the recognisable traits of each character will be appreciated by audiences universally. There’s the lone man outside the train station, frantically trying to justify asking for money from strangers with a story that is never quite the same; a bridezilla who cares more about the venue of her wedding than she does about who she marries; and the stand-offish barman who reopens his pub with a new theme each week, determined each time that this will be the one to draw in the punters (shockingly, Chinese, Australian and Caribbean-themed pubs aren’t a hit in rural Ireland). O Mochain had a lot of fun filming the barman’s scene in particular: “It was great to be able to really confuse the locals in that small town because every day we had a different façade. Every day before shooting we had to change the outside completely and people would drive past and go ‘What is Sean [the pub owner] doing?!’”
O Mochain wanted to keep Lost and Found as generally light-hearted as possible, after covering difficult, hard-hitting themes in his previous feature. “I wanted people to come away with a feeling, more than a message” he explains, “a feeling of hope, that people can be nice. Sometimes you meet somebody and they’re having a bad day and another day you’ll see them in a different light. There is some humanity left.” By revisiting characters throughout the film, O Mochain challenges our perceptions of them, revealing new depths to their personalities when they are launched into new scenarios. Though the moments of loss bring real sadness and poignancy, the hope that is ultimately found for each character reminds us that there is indeed humanity left in the world.
93-95 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ
0207 780 2000