3 x 3
2007 16 minutes
Experimental, dramatic film based on the subject of Institutional Abuse- focusing primarily on the allegations against the Catholic church's Christian Brothers who ran the Irish Industrial Schools for boys aged 4-16.
Essentially '3 x 3' is three films in one creating a trinity/triptych which of course has religious connotations.
It looks at the mental abuse these boys were forced to entail.
Part 1 particularly focuses on the loss of identity the children felt on entering these institutions. The Christian Brothers would issue each child with a number. This is what they were then known by from that point on and it was used for the entirety of their stay. The film shows a child's face and body being painted white. This gives the impression that he is now 'generic'. By taking away or covering up any of the boy's redeeming features- colour, marks, moles etc; he is given a regimental, 'factory-like' look. The seemingly innocent act of face painting therefore becomes something so sinister. This highlights the impression the brothers wanted to give to the trusting public who respected them greatly.
Part 2 is a basic reflection of the child's 'blind faith' in the brothers. These children trusted them despite how badly they were sometimes treated, and obeyed orders and believed whatever they were told as a result. This film has a simple concept. The child is blindfolded as a symbol of his 'blind faith'. His head is then moved repeatedly in a cross formation by male hands (representative of the brothers who gave the orders). The child does not struggle which highlights his obedience and naivety.
Part 3 is based on the mental abuse these children were subjected to. The title derives from chinese water torture- a form of mental torture where water is dripped onto the head of the victim until they eventually go crazy. This film represents the build up of mental abuse over time by showing a male hand tapping the side of the child's head (like the dripping tap). The film ends before we see the tapping stop, suggesting that the mental torture continues long after the other types of abuse have finished as the victims relive what has happened to them.
The film is silent as the brothers had a strict rule that 'children should be seen but not heard'. Many victims have talked of the 'sound of silence'. In addition, 'the fear of black and white' (indicating the clerical uniform) was often mentioned which is why all films are black and white.