Blue Ice Docs presents SCHOOL LIFE, a film by Neasa Ní Chianáin & David Rane, opens Oct 6, HDTR Cinema

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A film by Neasa Ní Chianáin & David Rane
“A rambunctious collage of a self-contained self-sustaining world, with its own rules of play and concerns.” –

“School Life” is as charming, intimate and warm-hearted an observational documentary as you’d ever want to see.” – Los Angeles Times


Starts its run in Toronto

Friday, October 6 – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

After captivating festival audiences all across North America and Europe, School Life is opening theatrically in Toronto for a week-long run at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.

School Life follows a year in the lives of two inspirational teachers in the only primary-age boarding school in Ireland. Headfort, a school not unlike Hogwarts with its 18th century buildings, secret doors and magical woodlands, has been home to John and Amanda Leyden for 46 years and a backdrop to their extraordinary careers. For John, rock music is just another subject alongside Maths, English, Scripture and Latin, all of which are taught in a collaborative and often hilarious fashion. For Amanda the key to connecting with children is the book, and she uses all means to engage the minds of her young charges with literature.

For nearly half a century these two have shaped thousands of minds but now they must start making preparations for their retirement. Will their intimate and caring cultivation of future generations live on, or will it vanish like so many community-centered practices?

“It’s a story of human warmth and the magical capacity of two delightfully unconventional teachers who help their young students overcome a variety of different challenges” Ní Chianáin says.  “It took a while for that door to open and the trust to build, but once they got to know us and like us, the relationship was built and they came fully on board.“

School Life had a world premiere at Sundance, and a Canadian premier at Hot Docs.

Founded in 2014 in partnership between Robin Smith, president of KinoSmith, and Blue Ice Group co-owners, Steven Silver and Neil Tabatznik, Blue Ice Docs uses the expertise and skills of both organizations to acquire, fund and develop a wide variety of non-fiction projects from around the world. Upcoming releases include, DO DONKEYS ACT?, CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER, CHAVELA, SPETTACOLO, WHOSE STREETS, and DRIES.