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Global Visions
The Second Annual Boston Irish Film Festival

With a population of just over three and a half million and a land mass the size of West Virginia, Ireland has exerted an impact on world culture disproportionate to its size. Yet what we collectively recognize as "Irish" need not necessarily emanate from Ireland. Irish immigrants, seeking refuge from poverty and persecution, settled across the globe, taking with them their art and culture and laying seed to a host of hybrid, hyphenated cultural forms, from the Canadian-Irish music of Cape Breton to the patriotic Irish-American hoopla of George M. Cohan. The Second Annual Boston Irish Film Festival recognizes this truly global nature of Irish culture and in the course of its second weekend, at the Harvard Film Archive, pays particular tribute to the Irish in America.

The Boston Irish Film Festival presents recent and vintage Irish film and video on the weekends of March 24, at Boston College, and March 31, at the Harvard Film Archive. For further details on this year’s festival, please check out the Boston College Irish Studies Program at www.bc.edu/irish.

The curators, Peter Flynn, Rob Savage, and Brian Liddy, wish to thank Sunniva O’Flynn and the Irish Film Archive, Proinsias NiGhrainne and TG4, Peg Aloi, Strand Releasing, Lexington Films, Ferndale Films, Emerson College, and Boston College for assistance in making these programs possible.


March 31 (Friday) 8 pm
Special Event—all seats $10
Screenwriter Fergus Tighe in Person
Reception with Live Music to Follow

2x4

Directed by Jimmy Smallhorne
Ireland 1998, 35mm, color, 90 min.
With Jimmy Smallhorne, Chris O’Neill, Bradley Fitts

Irish masculinity comes under the microscope in Jimmy Smallhorne’s uncompromising look at Irish manhood abroad. As actor, director, and co-writer, Smallhorne tackles the immigrant experience of an Irish construction worker living in New York with a vivid, almost documentary realism. Eschewing the Father O’Malley and Reilly the Cop stereotypes, 2x4 examines an altogether different Irish male—violent, repressed, sexually ambiguous, drug-addicted. Yet despite its rawness, the film paints a moving portrait. Photographed by Declan Quinn (Leaving Las Vegas), 2x4 was a hit at last year’s Sundance Festival, where it won the award for Best Cinematography.

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April 1 (Saturday) 2 pm
TG4 Irish-Language Program
These programs were made available with the kind permission of TG4, Ireland’s national Irish-language TV broadcaster.

Rotha Mor An Tsaoil (The Great Wheel of Life)

Directed by Desmond Bell
Ireland 1998, video, b/w and color, 54 min.
Irish with English subtitles

Titled after the autobiography of Mici MacGowan, who left his native Donegal for the United States in the late 1880s, this documentary portrays the Irish experience in America at its harshest. MacGowan’s early life as a migrant worker traveling between Ireland and Scotland acts as prelude to his departure for America and subsequent trek to the Yukon in search of gold. Narrated by passages from MacGowan’s book and illustrated with footage from documentary and fiction films of the period, Rotha Mor an tSaoil won this year’s Best Irish Documentary prize at the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards.

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April 1 (Saturday) 2 pm
TG4 Irish-Language Program
These programs were made available with the kind permission of TG4, Ireland’s national Irish-language TV broadcaster.

Mad Dog Coll

Directed by Pat Comer
Ireland 1999, video, b/w and color, 52 min.
Irish with English subtitles

Vincent Coll, aka "Mad Dog" Coll, was one of the most prominent gangsters during Prohibition in New York. A native of Gweedore along Ireland’s northwestern coastline,

Coll arrived in New York impoverished and uneducated but rose to become one of the city’s most famous mobsters––the embodiment of Irish success in America writ large. With evocative footage from the period setting the scene, this documentary traces Coll’s growing infamy, from his early days in Ireland to the Jazz Age highlife of New York in the twenties.


April 1 (Saturday) 4 pm
Boston-Irish Filmmakers Program
Filmmakers John J. Michalczyk, Cob Carlson, and Jim Lane in Person

Of Stars and Shamrocks

Directed by John J. Michalczyk
US 1995, video, b/w and color, 57 min.

Documentary filmmaker John J. Michalczyk offers a detailed history of Jewish and Irish immigration to Boston at the turn of the last century and examines the rivalry and mistrust that existed between the two groups—as well as the attempts at reconciliation.

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April 1 (Saturday) 4 pm
Boston-Irish Filmmakers Program
Filmmakers John J. Michalczyk, Cob Carlson, and Jim Lane in Person

An Irish-American Story

Directed by Cob Carlson
US 1997, 16mm, color, 30 min.

A heartfelt celebration of memory and family, this documentary chronicles the reminiscences of 96-year-old Mary Crehan Dillon, the filmmaker’s grandmother, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1911 and settled in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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April 1 (Saturday) 4 pm
Boston-Irish Filmmakers Program
Filmmakers John J. Michalczyk, Cob Carlson, and Jim Lane in Person

Background Action

Directed by Jim Lane
US 1999, video, color, 9 min.

Filmmaker Jim Lane explores Boston-Irish tribalism as evidenced in Otto Preminger’s 1963 film The Cardinal, in which his own Boston-Irish father played an extra. Memoir, film analysis, and sociological study are deftly interwoven in this personal documentary, which receives its premiere screening here.

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April 1 (Saturday) 7 pm
Director/Screenwriter Fergus Tighe in Person

Three Brothers

Directed by Fergus Tighe
Ireland 1998, video, color, 52 min.

Fergus Tighe’s portrait of the Quinn family—actor Aidan, director Paul, and cinematographer Declan—was shot while the brothers were making This is My Father in Ireland. Beginning with their childhood in Chicago, Three Brothers traces the individual careers of the members of this Irish-American clan and examines their relationship to Ireland, to one another, and to the medium in which they work. To director Tighe, it’s about "being American, being Irish, being both, being neither." Three Brothers is an intimate, perceptive, and often amusing biography.

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April 1 (Saturday) 7 pm (with "Three Brothers" above)
Director/Screenwriter Fergus Tighe in Person

Clash of the Ash

Directed by Fergus Tighe
Ireland 1987, 16mm, color, 52 min.
With Liam Heffernan, Gina Moxley, Vincent Murphy

Over four years in production and shot on a shoestring budget, Fergus Tighe’s largely autobiographical debut feature is an accomplished and sensitive film that examines a young teenager’s decision to leave his small town and emigrate to London in search of a freer but uncertain existence. Ostensibly a film about adolescent alienation, Clash of the Ash is also a perceptive look at how ingrained emigration has become in Irish society. The film won Best Drama prize at the 1987 Celtic Film Festival and Best Film award at the 1987 Cork Film Festival.

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April 1 (Saturday) 9:45 pm

The Rising of the Moon

Directed by John Ford
US 1957, 16mm, b/w, 81 min.
With Tyrone Power, Cyril Cusack, Noel Purcell

No other American filmmaker has become more associated with Ireland (and Ireland on screen) than John Ford. Over the course of his fifty-seven years in Hollywood, where he directed more than 150 films, Ford traveled to the old country only a handful of times. Yet his filmography is infused with Irish America’s reverence for the homeland, whether in the form of barroom buffoonery or his protagonists’ stoic (read Catholic) martyrdom. The Rising of the Moon is a portmanteau film, based on works by Frank O’Connor, Lady Gregory, and Michael McHugh. By turns dramatic and whimsical, the end result (handsomely performed by the Abbey Players) is a bittersweet paean to the dying days of folk sedition and communal heroism. It remains one of Ford’s least known great films.

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April 2 (Sunday) 3 pm
Special Free Screening

Luke

Directed by Sinead O’Brien
Ireland 1999, video, b/w and color, 71 min.
With Bono, Gerry Adams, Shane McGowan
Narrated by Stephen Rea

Republicanism, trade unionism, the radical political consciousness of Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the artistry of traditional Irish music are all interwoven in this documentary on the work and politics of Ireland’s foremost traditional musician, Luke Kelly. Combining documentary footage, concert performances, and interviews with Bono, Gerry Adams, and Christy Moore (among others), Luke takes an intimate look at Kelly and the role his music has played in the politics of urban, working class Ireland.

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April 2 (Sunday) 6 pm

Guests of the Nation

Directed by Denis Johnston
Ireland 1935, 16mm, b/w, 50 min.
With Barry Fitzgerald, Shelah Richards, Cyril Cusack
Silent with live musical accompaniment

Adapted from the 1931 short story by Frank O’Connor and directed by playwright Denis Johnston, Guests of the Nation offers a sober, compassionate critique of obsessive Republicanism in post-Independence Ireland. Shot silent due to budgetary constraints, the film employs Soviet-style montage in detailing the slow build-up to the execution of two British soldiers by the IRA. Johnston, then the director of the Gate Theater, enlisted many of its members, including Barry Fitzgerald and Hilton Edwards, to appear in the film. (Also on screen, in a cameo appearance, is Frank O’Connor.) Guests of the Nation is regarded by historians as one of Ireland’s most important screen ventures.

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April 2 (Sunday) 6 pm

Larry

Directed by Robert Dawson and Shelah Richards
Ireland 1959, 35mm, color, 27 min.
With Geoffrey Golden, Neasa Ni Anrachain, John Cowley

Produced and co-directed by Shelah Richards (Gate Theater actress and wife of Denis Johnston), Larry is a tender adaptation of Frank O’Connor’s celebrated short story "My Oedipus Complex." Set in Cork in the 1950s, the film relates the conflict between a young boy and his father over the shared object of their desire—their mother and wife, respectively.

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April 2 (Sunday) 8 pm
Novelist/Screenwriter Colin Bateman and Producer Stephanie Mills in Person

Crossmaheart

Directed by Henry Herbert
Ireland/GB 1998, 35mm, color, 98 min.
With Gerard Rooney, Maria Lennon, Paula McFettridge

Crossmaheart, based on Colin Bateman’s novel Cycle of Violence, concerns the misadventures of Miller, a disgraced Belfast journalist who is sent to a small Northern town to replace a fellow reporter who has mysteriously disappeared. Romantic entanglements, near-death experiences, and a particularly sadistic Republican hairdresser lie in wait. Bateman, who authored the film’s screenplay, takes every worn cliché and makes it seem fresh in this energetic and irreverent black comedy. The first of Bateman’s novels to be filmed (followed by the highly successful Divorcing Jack, screened here last year), Crossmaheart is testament to the author’s singular vision—an entirely new, dare we say hip, version of Northern Ireland.

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