In Loco Parentis

Ireland, Spain


In the verdant village of Kells, Ireland, there's an antidote to the dark times we live in - a worn and weathered boarding school with a special magic. At the heart of the school is a bemused elderly couple, John and Amanda Leyden, who have taught with equal parts seriousness and silliness for more than 40 years. The delight of SCHOOL LIFE is watching the pair undertake beloved pedagogical rituals, from performing the writings of great authors to coaching a fledgling rock band, like donning a favourite sweater.
The couple’s kindness and inventiveness usher young children through patches of loneliness and angst. Although they pretend to dread loud, screaming kids, the truth is they cannot go a day without them. As John and Amanda ponder retirement, unapologetically chain-smoking in their ivy-covered cottage, the film poses a quietly profound question: Will their intimate, caring cultivation of future generations live on, or will it vanish like so many community-centered practices?

Director's Biography

Neasa started directing in 2001 with the critically acclaimed television documentary, NO MAN'S LAND. She has since directed four feature documentaries including the award-winning, FRANK NED & BUSY LIZZIE, which won Best Feature award at The Celtic Film Festival 2004, and sold to broadcasters around the world, FAIRYTALE OF KATHMANDU which world-premiered at IDFA 2007, in the Silver Wolf Competition and was subsequently invited to more than 30 international festivals, and won three international awards, including Best Film and Best Director, THE STRANGER, which premiered in Locarno FF 2014 and her most recent film, SCHOOL LIFE, which had its world premiere in the Feature Documentary Competition at IDFA in November 2016, followed by a North American premiere in the World Cinema Documentary competition at Sundance. SCHOOL LIFE won the Special Jury Prize in the Golden Gate Awards at San Francisco FF, and an Audience Award (Prix du Public) at Visions du Réel in Nyon.

2001 No Man’s Land
2004 Frank Ned & Busy Lizzie
2007 Fairytale of Kathmandu
2014 The Stranger
2016 In Loco Parentis /School Life

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Neasa Ni Chianain, David Rane (donegaldave)

Written by: David Rane (donegaldave), Neasa Ni Chianain

Produced by: David Rane (donegaldave), Montse Portabella, Angelo Orlando, Efthymia Zymvragaki

Cinematography: Neasa Ni Chianain

Editing: Mirjam Strugalla

Original Score: Eryck Abecassis

Sound Design: Reto Stamm

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2017