Film Series / Events

Search All Film Series (1999-present)
Browse All Film Series

April 13

The Daisy Chain by Polly Devlin

Originally from Ireland, Polly Devlin has had an active and varied career in over forty years as a journalist, author, professor and filmmaker. She has worked at Vogue magazine, the New Statesman and the Evening Standard and has published several books. Below are excerpts from a statement by the artist.

Special thanks to Amie Siegal, who will discuss the film with Devlin following the screening.

Special Event Tickets $10
Free Admission for HFA Members

Sunday April 13 at 7pm

The Daisy Chain

Directed by Polly Devlin, Appearing in Person
UK 1990, video, color, 60 min.

When I started out to make the documentary that became The
Daisy Chain
, I consciously – and ostensibly – was making an innocent movie about scenes from a day in a boarding school in England – the school my daughters attended. There were other agendas behind it. I was born in Northern Ireland, and I write about, among other things, exile and class and being colonized, and a boarding school is a good metaphor. While making that documentary another film emerged, one that addressed my pre-occupations about the morality of documentaries whether in filmmaking or writing. This film was due to be shown at BAFTA so I could graduate from National Film School and I wrote a short description for the program:

A project conceived as a “traditional” documentary explodes into a whirl of ethical contradictions when one subject apparently withdraws her co-operation. In front of the cameras, an emotional battle for power that runs the gamut from love to betrayal and back again unfolds, and the documentary enters a realm where accepted notions of objective observation collapse. Sometimes the camera seems to be the cause of the friction, at others it seems to be another weapon. Amid the accusations of manipulation and betrayal, the viewer can never be certain of the truth, never sure when the protagonists are performing for the camera and when they are genuinely its victims.

Just before the screening the then-director of the film school refused to allow it to be shown. I was not allowed to graduate. For a short period after whenever I showed the film to groups who asked to see it – most notably doctors at a large London hospital dealing with children’s disorders – it and I received a most hostile reception. I withdrew the film and have not shown it for nearly twenty years.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top
Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700