|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
(The Traveller Girl)
Winnie Maughan as Winnie in
Perry Odgen, Ireland, 2005; 87 min.
After completing work on Pony Kids, a book of photographs and
interviews with children of the Travellers of Ireland, Perry Ogden continued
to be intrigued, enough so that he set out to make a feature film.
The result is the depressing but well-made docudrama Pavee Lackeen
(The Traveller Girl), which depicts the wretched living conditions,
the squalor and poverty in which a marginalized group -- the Travellers, a
nomadic indigenous minority in Ireland with their own culture, language,
and traditions -- live. Using mostly a nonprofessional cast drawn from
the Travellers, the film centers on ten-year-old Winnie (Winnie Maughan)
and her large family as they cope with day-to-day events.
At the start of Pavee Lackeen, Winnie is having her palm read. She
is told not to neglect her education as that can be a key to success in
life. But as we see in subsequent scenes, that is a problem for Winnie.
A bright and clever girl, Winnie has a tendency to use her fists and call
her classmates names. She's soon suspended from school and spending
her time hanging out in the city, visiting shops, buying ice cream, and
being somewhat unaware of the problems facing her family.
Winnie's mother (Rose Maughan) is facing a challenge. The local
governing council is trying to get her to move her caravan of trailers to
a location just up the road from where it is currently located. The underlying
reason is a simple one -- if the caravan is moved, the Travellers will no
longer be subject to their jurisdiction.
The film has an immediacy to it stemming from the way in which
Ogden shot it. Oftentimes the script (by Ogden and Mark Venner) would
be set aside for improvisation, giving the fictional movie the feel of