Keepers of the Port is a single screen documentary film which developed out of earlier site-specific multi-screen installations. Stevedoring Stories (2012) was commissioned for Tall Ships Dublin and Rhythms of a Port.was exhibited during PhotoIreland 2014 in an old cargo warehouse on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. In the new expanded lyrical portrait, filmed and directed by Moira Sweeney on Dublin’s docks, a tender pride in working life emerges within the stories and memories of the custodians of the port. As a group of former dockworkers set about preserving their legacy, daily life continues for the stevedores, boatmen, marine operatives and port managers who keep this gateway to the world open.
Rarely seen archive footage and arresting industry visuals are amplified by the rugged harmonies of forklift warnings, creaking wood and metal, squeaking ropes and pulleys, and seagulls. The local activity of loading and unloading cargo and containers persists as a busy, humming backdrop to the steady arrival and departure of transnational ships. As the film moves through each discrete yet interconnected hub of dock activity, the filmmaker narrates her reflections on the evolving picture of vibrant, transforming port life. Recurring themes across the film include a nostalgia for lost communal tradition and solidarity, the precarity of seafarers’ lives and the complexity of a global digitalised structure which controls ship movement into and out of ports.
The LAB Gallery