By Alice Mathews
There is something that pulls artists towards the Lowcountry, even first-time film director, writer and producer Deirdre O’Connor from New York. Perhaps it was the stories told by her ninety-three-year-old father Jack, his twin brother Jim and older brother Charles about their United States Marine Corps basic training days at Parris Island in 1945 and 1942 respectively. Uncle Charles later went on to receive his Purple Heart as a member of the USMC 3-K-23 4thDivision. Jim played on the Marines baseball team alongside of George C. Scott. Jack, who would become a judge and father of ten, helped influence the creative mind of his daughter through those and other recounts of the past.
Deirdre O’Connor recently made her directorial debut with One Moment at the Beaufort International Film Festival. The film won Best Comedy, while lead actor Danny Aiello won Best Actor for his final performance following his death in 2019. What led her to the world premiere of One Moment defines what all creative thinkers long for, their one moment to showcase talents honed by years of practice and patience.
The selection of BIFF 2021 as the world premiere location “felt right on so many levels,” said O’Connor. “A nod to the history of my dad and uncles as Marines at Parris Island, the charming locale, the emphasis on film and the arts here . . . it made sense to me.” She added, “screening my film for the first time was a big, thoughtful deal. I felt vulnerable, excited, and ready.” She chose Beaufort International Film Festival with intention. It turned out to be the right decision, meeting with positive reviews and support from Festival goers. “I would recommend BIFF to other newcomers in the Film Festival circuit,” O’Conner said. One Moment will also screen at other upcoming festivals throughout the country.
The film is loosely based on O’Connor’s personal experience with losing her mother and her siblings’ shared challenges with their aging father. Many of the scenes in the film are from first hand experiences, and O’Connor has turned them into heart-warming comedic moments that make One Moment endearing, relatable and irresistible. A story of children becoming parents to their parents, while still trying to parent their own children, describes the movie’s mantra, “Welcome to the Sandwich Generation.”
As tidal waves ebb and flow, so do the generational differences depicted in the film regarding religion, marriage, technology, priorities and points of view. However, just as constant are themes of love, family, making memories, truth and hope. One Momentcaptures them all. This independently produced film by O’Connor and Jodi Weiner can be characterized by special moments, such as teenagers who actually listen to war stories told by the lead grandfather character played by Aiello. A raw father-daughter conversation advising not to worry about the past and future, but to relish the moment you are in, brings the story home. It is a message we all need right now in this One Moment in time . . . to laugh and love.
Deirdre O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Communications and Film at SUNY Nassau Community College in New York since 2004. One Moment’s trailer may be found at https://littleredpurseproductions.comwith future distribution planned.