The journalist and LGBTQIA activist was murdered in 2019 while observing riots in Northern Ireland

BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY JESS LOWE

On 4 November, award-winning documentary, Lyra, will be released in UK and Irish cinemas. Directed by Alison Millar, the intimate film uses voice recordings, home footage and Lyra McKee’s remarkable writing to explore the life and death of the renowned Northern Irish queer journalist and LGBTQIA activist – allowing her story to be told in her own words.

Lyra McKee had a passion for investigative journalism, wrote extensively about the consequences of the Troubles and sought justice for the crimes that had been forgotten since the Good Friday Agreement. In April 2019, Lyra was shot dead on the 21st anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday agreement. The New IRA claimed responsibility for Lyra’s murder. At the time of her death, Lyra had brought an engagement ring and was planning to propose to her partner, Sara Canning.

“It’s better to go down fighting”

The use of voice recordings is very powerful. Hearing Lyra talk and saying things such as “It’s better to go down fighting” is a poignant reminder of how much she gave to the world, and just how much was taken. The director had a close relationship with Lyra, and in this documentary she gives a heartfelt tribute to Lyra’s life and death while also exploring the complexities of Northern Ireland’s political history.

“The one thing her family and her partner Sara kept saying to me about watching the film was that it was lovely to spend time with her again,” Alison said in interview. “Her sister Nichola said to me, ‘I got her back for a wee while. I got to hang out with her and spend time with her and hear her voice’. They found a lot of it really comforting.”

“Lyra is such a great character, so I really want people to spend time with her. We’ve shown the film at various festivals: we showed it in Italy and won Best Documentary, which was lovely, but the main thing was how she connected with the audience.”

“Her name, Lyra, comes from the stars. It’s a mythical name, you know, but she really did live up to it.”

Lyra is in UK and Irish cinemas from 4 November and it will be screening at London at the Bloomsbury Curzon until 10 November.

Lyra will be broadcast on Channel 4 in 2023.

@niccrosara

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