Magazine article Screen International

'No Stone Unturned': London Review

Magazine article Screen International

'No Stone Unturned': London Review

Article excerpt

A forensic investigation by the renowned documentarian Alex Gibney uncovers the extent of a cover-up in Northern Ireland in 1994

Dir. Alex Gibney. UK, 2017. 111 minutes

Long and detailed and frequently terrifying, Alex Gibney’s documentary about a 1994 massacre in a pub in Northern Ireland is investigative journalism at its rigorous best. The Oscar-winning American director jumps into the sticky morass of The Troubles and emerges with a film which engages with the filthiest elements of a dirty war. No Stone Unturned makes for uncomfortable viewing, showing how peace today sits uneasily on festering lies and collusion. Unusually in these cases - for there are many, including the Omagh bombing of 1988 - Gibney’s doc names the unpunished.

Although evidence at the scene pointed to the guilty parties within 24 hours, nobody has been tried for the murders to this day

Pulled from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival due to legal issues - unsurprisingly, given the film’s content - No Stone Unturned is a forensic accounting of one crime whose tentacles wrap around the establishment and still sqeeze tight: people in this film are afraid to speak. It should be acknowledged as outstanding detective work when it tours the festival circuit after New York and London debuts.

Of considerable appeal to the politically-engaged, No Stone Unturned is dogged in a way that has become unusual in documentaries of this type. Due to air as part of the BBC’s Storyville strand, it has wider resonance outside its immediate frame of reference and will be of particular appeal in Ireland, much like Bobby Sands: 66 Days. Gibney’s doc about a compromised state has no answers, but the point is his question: if a state is as rotten as Northern Ireland, does absolving the horror of the past really help its citizens move forward?

Gibney focuses on the notably cold-blooded 1994 murder of six men who were watching World Cup football in a tiny pub in Loughinisland, County Down, by the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force. He acknowledges that he has a personal link to the killings, having shot a short film there. With subtitles accompanying the testimony of the barman, then a teenager shot in the kidneys, now an adult still sadly serving at The Heights bar, this initially seems like a film made for export to the US. …

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