Irish Eye on Hollywood:
Simon Fitzmaurice, Director with ALS, Makes U.S. Feature Film Debut
Simon Fitzmaurice has already lived a life more incredible than any movie.
Back in 2008, Fitzmaurice, from Wicklow, was a promising filmmaker who’d had a short film screened at the Sundance Film Festival. But soon after he was diagnosed with what is known as A.L.S., or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The illness progressed to the point that Fitzmaurice lost all mobility and speech. Yet that did not stop him – with the assistance of technology allowing him to communicate using eye motion – from completing a feature film, which hit U.S. theaters in February and is now available through video on demand.
The film is called My Name is Emily. Set in Ireland, My Name is Emily stars Louth native Evanna Lynch, best known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films.
Lynch plays a foster child who hits the road with a friend to see, and perhaps free, her father in a mental hospital.
My Name is Emily debuted at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2015, where it won best cinematography.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Fitzmaurice dubbed himself a “bit of a stubborn bastard,” and added (as the Times put it) that he was “determined to leave his wife, Ruth, and their two young sons – with a third on the way – a legacy other than self-pity.”
Communicating by email, Fitzmaurice himself added:
“I am not trying to prove anything.” But then he added: “Actually, I am trying to prove something.
I remember thinking, ‘I must do this to show my children to never give up.’” ♦