No Stone Unturned didn’t make it into the printed copy of this year’s programme for the London Film Festival, and it didn’t make it onto the screen at Tribeca due to legal complications surrounding the content of the documentary. Coming from Academy Award winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), this is a shocking and revealing piece of investigative journalism, with the pace to match any narrative feature.
On the 18th June 1994, members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) burst into O’Toole’s Pub in Loughinisland and unloaded assault rifles into the bar, killing six and wounding five as they sat watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup. Nobody was ever convicted, and for more than two decades now the families affected have campaigned for justice, simply asking for the truth of what happened. In a surprisingly balanced, well-rounded, and damning piece of cinema, Gibney works alongside journalists, the families, former policemen, former members of paramilitary groups, the current Police Ombudsman, the campaign’s solicitor, and many more who remained anonymous to present the story as clearly as can be determined, with some bold conclusions.
“a shocking and revealing piece of investigative journalism”
From the night the massacre occurred, the families had been failed at every turn, despite being assured by the police they would leave no stone unturned. Vital evidence disappeared or was destroyed, lead investigators went on holiday, and each request they made for information was hampered by bureaucracy. Along with the work of the campaign and the current Police Ombudsman, this documentary makes better on that promise than the police ever did. It tackles the two key questions that need answering: who did it, and was there police collusion? These are two unfortunately familiar questions in the Northern Irish legal system. It is more than likely that Gibney’s answers are what kept this documentary from Tribeca, and nearly from London.
Whilst the style of the documentary is far too often reminiscent of a True Crime documentary from some high numbered TV channel, featuring flashing newspaper texts and even a poorly-judged reconstruction, these flaws can be forgiven in light of what the film achieves. No Stone Unturned gives the victims of the attack a dignity that hasn’t been afforded to them for far too long, and goes a long way to answering important questions, and in the process raises several more that need to be addressed. Frankly, this is a responsibility that does not rest with a documentary maker.
In England particularly, we have an arrogance that simply forgets the Troubles, deeming it to have occurred in some far away place to people we don’t know. No Stone Unturned is able to undo this feeling and spark a necessary anger, raising awareness of the atrocities committed and the involvement of those charged with keeping the peace.
Image: Alex Gibney