It’s Not Yet Dark is a powerful documentary telling the inspirational story of the filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice. Directed by Frankie Fenton and narrated by Colin Farrell, we are taken on an intimate journey of a man and his family facing the realities of motor neuron disease.

With the use of photographs and home videos, we are given a glimpse into his early life, first as a young boy when his father instilled in him a love of film, then to his teenage years and early adulthood and finding the woman of his dreams.

He is young, handsome and charismatic with the world at his feet and the love of his life by his side. Success came quickly with his first short film Full Circle which was screened at over fifty festivals worldwide winning numerous awards.

This was followed up a few years later with his second short film The Sound of People which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. It was at Sundance he first noticed that his foot became ‘floppy’.

On his return and after undergoing many tests Simon was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. He was 34 years old and given 4 years to live. At the time his wife was pregnant with their third child. Simon and his family initially refused to accept the diagnosis trying healers, diets and programmes that might reverse the disease and make a difference. Nothing helped.

Eventually, they came to accept the reality of the situation and decided as a family to make the most of every day. They spend a magical six months in Australia enjoying the sunshine and time with family and friends.
On his return, his decline is rapid, much more sudden than was predicted.

He comes down with pneumonia and is rushed to hospital, put on a ventilator becoming dependent on a breathing apparatus. He begins to lose the use of his arms and his speech becomes unintelligible until eventually he loses it altogether relaying on a computer and eye gaze technology to communicate.

Despite all the odds stacked against him he continues to be productive, writing and storyboarding his feature film My Name is Emily. With the help of two producers and a massive fundraising campaign, he’s able to bring the film into production.

By the time filming comes along Simon is fully dependent on eye gaze technology to direct and communicate. With a powerhouse of a team around him, the film is a wrap and went on to premiere to a standing ovation at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2015.Powerful, inspirational and deeply moving. A must see.

It’s Not Yet Dark opens in Irish cinemas on October 13th.

Review by Claire Millane, a Dublin based actor writer and one of the presenters of No-Budget, a show for independent filmmakers. Click on the link to discover more: