Lyra: intimate new documentary gives us a sense of what murdered journalist Lyra McKee really was

On April 18, 2019, on the fringes of a riot in Derry, a promising young life was extinguished. As an investigative reporter who has written gripping pieces about growing up gay in Northern Ireland, and the continuing consequences of the Troubles, Lyra McKee was just 29 years old when she was hit in the head by a bullet Seems to be aimed at PSNI officers.

The death sparked outcry in Ulster and beyond, and a divided society was briefly united in outrage and grief. But Alison Millar’s documentary refuses to focus on McKee’s martyrdom and instead tells us who she really is. Millar, a family friend, was given access to McKee’s extended family and friends, and what emerged was the image of a dynamic, talented, caring, and multi-faceted woman. to tell.


The documentary is based on hours of voice recordings from Lyra McKee’s cell phones, computers, and dictation machines. Photo: Wildcard Productions

Through video footage, we can see McKee as a little girl, a toddler reading a book and twirling uncomfortably in her Communion gown. Born in 1990, she grew up in Belfast’s Ardoyne, one of the areas hardest hit by the Troubles still raging. As a child, she recalls her mother letting her play with toy guns in the yard in case military helicopters hovering overhead might mistake them for real guns.

Instead of avoiding all that conflict, McKee was hooked on it, and as a teenager she decided she wanted to be an investigative journalist. She won the Sky News Young Journalist Award at the age of 16 and gained more public attention when she posted a blog titled “Letter to my 14-year-old self” in which she describes the challenges of growing up gay in Northern Ireland.

As her journalism career was in full swing, McKee covered the Ballymurphy massacre, the North’s disproportionately high suicide rate, and before her death wrote a book, Lost boys, which investigates the disappearance of two boys in 1970 in Belfast. She signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber and was about to propose to her girlfriend. Then there’s that bullet.


A billboard dedicated to Lyra McKee; documentary film celebrating her life and work is directed by Bafta Award-winning Alison Millar and produced by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Hidden Light Productions. Photo: Wildcard Distribution

Millar’s excellent, clear film includes insightful interviews with McKee’s sister, cousin, and mother, who passed away nearly a year after the shooting; According to her family, she died of grief. “I hope that’s the end of it,” her sister said, “I hope that bullet doesn’t go any further.”

The documentary also includes footage of McKee’s funeral, where Northern politicians refuse (then is now) to share power and form a government, huddled in their seats while Father Martin Cahill criticized all and sundry for their cynicism and inaction.

But this movie is not about McKee’s death, but her life. Interviews and archival footage are interspersed with McKee’s clear, concise, lyrical written passages, and we constantly hear her monstrous voice, asking tough questions, laughing with friends, pondering the tragic conundrum that is Northern Ireland. Three years on, Lyra McKee’s loss is clearly felt: her killer has never been caught.

Lyra will open in cinemas in Ireland and the UK on Friday 4 November.

Video of the day Lyra: intimate new documentary gives us a sense of what murdered journalist Lyra McKee really was

Fry Electronics Team

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