SCREENING SOLD OUT
Padraig (Patrick) O’Malley is a conflict mediator par excellence, and his clients include such war-torn countries and communities as Northern Ireland, South Africa, the Middle East, and former Yugoslavia. Borrowing concepts from Alcoholics Anonymous, O’Malley’s “Conflict Anonymous” brings various divided societies together to help each other work through seemingly insurmountable issues. This peacemaker knows of what he speaks, having left Northern Ireland for grad studies in the US during the Irish “ Troubles.” Since the early seventies, he’s made Boston his somewhat “home” — though in reality it’s where his suitcase is ready-packed for global peace-making junkets. O’Malley is also an alcoholic, a fact revealed early in this compelling study of a conflicted individual. Alcohol has fueled his life: it is the convivial libation to open up lines of dialogue at Conflicts Anonymous, and it’s the means to provide a steady income — he long ago bought the Boston bar where he and his fellow ex-pats met to commiserate.
This quietly spoken, unobtrusive man is a paradox, for though he seeks to bring people together, he is a solitary individual who has kept personal relationships distant, including loyal former lovers and the child — now a young woman — he adopted while working in South Africa. The full weight of his perspective on human relations confronts us head on: he admits to being attracted to the dark side of human nature, and believes that what we do, or work at, is only an escape from utter despair. Director James Demo’s intriguing portrait skillfully reveals O’Malley’s personal side while documenting his unique approach to conflict resolution, leaving us a sliver of hope in an era of unending conflict. -MB