Experiencing Interruptions?

St. Declan's and THE MAGIC CHAIR

“St. Declan’s and THE MAGIC CHAIR” takes you inside a tiny school in Dublin, Ireland where children who have been failed by mainstream education discover self-confidence and their own unique abilities. Meeting each student as their needs require, inspired teachers unlock the children’s trust and passion for learning with empathy and kindness. Weaving together documentary footage and animated shorts made by the children themselves, the film is a moving portrait of education’s highest values: passion, trust, and above all, hope.

  • Gregory Ruzzin
    Lost Child?, The Hungry Bachelors Club, Blue Skies are a Lie, Hollywood (and Vine)
  • Gregory Ruzzin
    Lost Child?, Blue Skies are a Lie, Hollywood (and Vine)
  • Brian Kotowski
  • Gregory Ruzzin
    Lost Child?, Blue Skies are a Lie, Hollywood (and Vine)
  • Victoria Graf
  • Brian Kotowski
  • David Reynolds
    Music Composer
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Drama, Educational, Disability
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 11 minutes 45 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Helsinki Education Film Festival International 2023
    November 25, 2023
    European Premier
    Best Children's Film, Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Indie Rights Movies
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Gregory Ruzzin

Filmmaker Gregory Ruzzin is an Associate Professor of Film Production at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and TV in Los Angeles where he teaches courses in documentary and fiction film directing. In 2022 Ruzzin was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for his project “SMALL WORLD THIS: Cycling, Climate Change, and Japan”, which explores the relationships between energy, cycling, and the natural environment.

Ruzzin first fell in love with the movies while sitting in the dark listening to Jean-Michel Jarre on his Walkman, drinking Guinness beer, and watching the silent Russian classics in one of his first film classes. Helping his younger sister Alyssa who lives with epilepsy and a developmental disability tell her story in their documentary feature film "Lost Child?" marked a turning point in his career, luring him from fiction into non-fiction and interactive storytelling explorations. A committed cyclist and bike commuter in a city known for its car-centric culture, he can often be found with his camera and his bike, meditating over the miles.

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Director Statement

The process of making "St. Declan's and THE MAGIC CHAIR" began when, after seeing my film “Lost Child?,” Professor Victoria Graf PhD., a leading advocate for inclusive education in the U.S., asked me to partner with her in the making of a documentary film about St. Declan’s School in Dublin. Professor Graf spoke glowingly of St. Declan’s children and teachers and, intrigued by the possibilities, I agreed to visit the school, flying all night from my home in sunny Los Angeles and arriving in Dublin bleary-eyed and exhausted on a rainy, windy morning...

Stepping out into the weather, Professor Graf meets me with a cab and we drive through the pouring rain…along the river…buildings weighed down with history crowding up against the streets. I stare out at Dublin and wonder why I’ve come all this way to visit a school…to find a story…and I feel, in the moment, that I have made a mistake in coming here. The cab finally stops in front of an imposing Victorian house hiding behind a wrought iron fence and, dodging the raindrops, we step up to an over-sized blue door with a shiny brass knob…and a child’s drawing in a small window nearby…a little drawing of a tree and a cat. I have two cats…and a young son in America who I worry about every moment…and the door opens and we step inside…

I feel something move inside me, and I know immediately that Professor Graf is right; that there are sacred places in the world, places where the sanctity and beauty of life – all life, no matter how one is judged – is known and cherished. And that St. Declan’s School is one of these places.

As I see it, my job as a filmmaker is to seek out stories that can change the world and then figure out how best to tell them. St. Declan’s story can change the world and, while spending a week with the children and teachers of St. Declan’s School, I find my commitment to the work I began with “Lost Child?” growing. I see my younger sister Alyssa, who has an intellectual disability, in every child in the classrooms; see my own parents in every mother and father who comes and goes with worried and frightened eyes; see my own son in every little boy. And I am hooked. This is a film that I must make, and I leave Ireland with a new passion; to share the inspiring children, parents, and teachers of St. Declan’s School with the world.

My greatest teacher, the late film actress Nina Foch, once told me that the best work is always personal. I couldn’t agree more strongly, and "St. Declan's and THE MAGIC CHAIR" is nothing, if not personal, for me. It is also moving, inspirational, and sobering. It is a story that needs to be seen, and I hope you will join us in making sure that it is.