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Galway Film Fleadh bringing history to the screen

This year’s Galway Film Fleadh is in full swing across the city. There is an astounding array of film from new Irish short films, new Irish features, international features and shorts, new and archive Irish documentaries and even a series of archive German films. For those with more than just a passing interest in the documentary and historical films in the Fleadh, here is a listing of just a few.

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey

One of the stand-out films of the Galway Film Fleadh is “Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey”. Exploring the life of Bernadette Devlin McAlliskey, hers is a truly remarkable life who experienced life in the North of Ireland during the height of thefight for Civil Rights, the Troubles and in the North that struggled for peace in the face of an unrefined hatred. McAliskey was elected MP for Mid-Ulster in the 1960s at the age of 21 and continually fought for civil liberty and an end to the vicious sectarianism of those who lived and governed in the North. Described by the documentary maker Leila Doolan, “She (McAliskey) has always been a human rights activist. Civil rights has always been at the heart of what she has done and she is a woman of incredible eloquence and clarity.” Doolan and Bernadette Devlin McAliskey will be present at the screening and what promises to be an incredibly powerful evening.

“Blazing the Trail: The O’Kalems in Ireland” was a screening of the earliest works of fiction which depicted Ireland on screen. Produced between 1910 and 1915, the O’Kalem group were led by actor/director Sidney Olcott and actor/writer Gene Gauntier. The works used on-location filming primarily in the Kilarney area of Co. Kerry. It is amazing to consider the representation of Ireland to an American audience at the turn of the Twentieth century. At this very time in Ireland revolution was brewing and it was barely half a century since famine had ensured emigration to America by the Irish was in waves of tens of thousands. “Blazing the Trail” offers accounts of the making of these films as well as the original works themselves.

“A Door Ajar” is a dark treatise on the visit to Ireland in 1937 by French playwright and poet Antonin Artuad. Artuad is best known perhaps for his work “The Theatre and Its Double” which contained his idea and ambition for a theatre that would force his audience to viscerally experience the basic elements of human existence. ‘The Theatre of Cruelty’ as he called would expose the audience to the finest details of their emotive subconscious which would ‘cruelly’ awake them to greater sence of experience in the theatre.

A Door Ajar

"A Door Ajar"

Artuad came to Ireland in 1937 carrying a wooden staff which he believed was the true staff of St. Patrick. Folllowing an arrest in Ireland not much else is known of his visit. “A Door Ajar” discusses this journey to Ireland by Artaud and also looks at his writings, ideas and life.

“On the Box” is a selection of Irish documentaries to be screened on Saturday 9 July at the Fleadh. “Who is Dervla Murphy” follows the life and work of Ireland’s most prolific travel writer who has toured the globe for the past five decades. I attended a public interview with Murphy at the National Library of Ireland in 2009 and found her an incredibly interesting woman with an amazing life of travel and experiences.

“Neither Fish Nor Fowl” looks at the collapse of the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. The film includes intimate views into the film –maker Fiona Murphy’s own family. The film compliments well the exhibition of photography “Abandoned Ireland” which featured images of the ruins of grandeur which were previously the glamorous ‘Big Houses’. This was staged by photographer Tarquin Blake at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway recently. http://www.abandonedireland.com/

Harry McGee’s short film “Coiscèimeanna: the Famine Walk” which discussed the journey of those who died trying to escape starvation in the West of Ireland is an interesting film which traces the devastation of famine and emigration had in the West of Ireland. Part of the ‘New Irish Shorts – Way out West’ series and this film featured earlier this week in the Fleadh.

If you have seen any of these films or plan on seeing those still to be screened please feel free to comment and leave your thoughts.

http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/

 

 

 

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Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Culture

 

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From Stage to Street on RTE Radio

From Stage to Street

A new radio series on the history and controversies in Irish theatre is underway on RTE Radio 1. “From Stage to Street” airs on Saturdays, 7.30pm and is hosted by Colin Murphy.

The engaging series focuses on the times when what was happening on the Irish stage reverberated on the streets outside.

From the Playboy riots of 1907 to more recent controversies, the series takes a fresh look at key moments in Irish theatre. Why did Lady Gregory’s nephew lead a drunken chorus of ‘God Save Our King’ at the Abbey in 1907? And why, fifty years later, was Brendan Behan to be found leading a drunken chorus of ‘The Auld Triangle’ outside Dublin’s pocket theatre, the Pike? Was O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars an unpatriotic slur? Who was Anew McMaster?

Find out about the players and passions at stake in the most provocative moments in Irish theatre history, and recapture those moments with the aid of actors and archival gems.  The show presents archival material from various Irish institutions and theatres that has often never been viewed by the public, bringing to life some of the most riotous and turbulent moments seen on and off the Irish stage.
The show can be listened back to here: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/stagetostreet/ and you can view archive material, keep up to date and join in the conversation on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FromStageToStreet and Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/stagetostreet

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Culture, History, Theatre, Uncategorized

 

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Theft of Auschwitz sign

The theft of the sign at the entrance gate to Auschwitz in December was a contemptuous effort, for whatever reason, by those who tried to remove a potent symbol of our failed humanity. “Arbeit Macht Frei” which translates as Work Will Set You Free has remained in place at the entrance to the Nazi camp since its liberation in 1945. This sign has represented the memory of more than just the atrocities carried out within its barbed fences and dilapidated huts, it has represented the strength of spirit of those who entered the camp, died in the camp and also those who survived the camp. For anyone who has walked into Auschwitz with the famous sign cast in iron over your head, it is truly is a haunting experience. What is a much more unique experience is walking back out again, by your own choice. I had the opportunity to do just this as a visitor to the Auschwitz site, seeing “Arbeit Macht Frei” looming on the horizon, I can simply say it chills you to the bone.
 
The theft of this sign is an attack on the memory of those whose lives, identity, culture and nations which were  destroyed and scarred by the operations so dutifully carried out at Auschwitz. Though the sign once signified entry and life within this work camp, with freedom coming only by way of death, “Arbeit Macht Frei” has since stood in place to remind the world to never stand by and let such atrocities happen again.

 The slogan reminds all people of the collective memory and responsibility we share to always remember, understand and learn from Auschwitz. Camp survivor and author Primo Levi said, “Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions.”
 
Levi also put it: “Human memory is a marvellous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features”. Auschwitz and similar sites of horrific abuse and enslavement need such symbols of liberation. They stand in place of our own failings and blindness and ensure documented record and artefacts of the past lie in place for future generations to learn from where we have failed.

Image courtesy of theage.au

 
 

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