Academic journal article CineAction

Love and Rage: Irish Cinema of the 1990s

Academic journal article CineAction

Love and Rage: Irish Cinema of the 1990s

Article excerpt

When one visits Ireland these days, one is immediately struck by the amount of construction, particularly noticeable in the cranes that dot the landscape of Dublin, but equally apparent in the more or less continuous roadwork around the countryside to widen byways that only a few years ago were still the width of a horse and buggy. That mode of transportation has been replaced by a seemingly endless parade of BMWs, which used to signal the presence of German tourists, but now the BMW is more likely to be driven by a resident of Ireland. Housing starts rose a remarkable 30% in 1997, and "only" 25% the following year. The Irish proudly consider themselves Europeans, and their position as a thriving member of the EC has granted them a great opportunity to throw off the yoke of their entwinement with England. The continuing peace talks in Northern Ireland and the effects of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord have finally ushered in enormously productive political changes, possibly ending decades of political instability.

Ireland has always been a centre of friction and difference, embedded in a vigorous history of the arts, but its status as a film-producing nation has always been slight. This is no longer the case. One important cultural ramification of the Irish boom has been the sudden growth of Irish cinema, producing a new site and catalyst for productive cultural arguments. The 1990s represents a fertile moment for cinema culture in Ireland, marked by the re-creation of Bord Scannan na h'Eirann (The Irish Film Board) in 1993. The Board has had a checkered past, begun only in 1980, it was severely truncated in 1986. Lean years followed in Irish film production, an interlude marked, albeit, by some large-scale successes, e.g. My Left Foot (1989, Sheridan) and The Crying Game (1992, Jordan). But the lack of governmental support for the indigenous industry had its effect at many levels, from the mid '80s to the mid '90s. In hindsight, one can see that the very beginning of the Board in 1980 made a crucial contribution to the development of film in Ireland. Eat the Peach (1986), Reefer and The Model (1983), Anne Devlin (1984), and Angel (1982) were amongst the films, which, in very different ways, initiated a rich period of filmmaking.

One need only look at the numbers to realize the enormity of the growth of the native industry in the past few years. In the fifteen year period between 1979 and 1993, a total of 46 Irish feature films were made. In the five year period between 1995 and 1999, a total of over 70 films have been made. Moreover, Ireland has an emerging festival circuit, including the Dublin Film Festival, the Cork International Film Festival, and the International Celtic Film and Television Festival in Belfast. This burgeoning film scene includes festivals for emerging filmmakers: The Cork Youth International Film and Video Arts Festival, and the Junior Dublin Film Festival; and there is one festival that takes place in Manchester, The Kino Festival of New Irish Cinema. The refurbished Northern Ireland Film Council has also recently begun to develop filmmaking in its six counties. It provides seed money for films shot by indigenous Northern Irish filmmakers, as well as marketing the Northern counties as locations for international film productions. The impact of Northern Irish filmmaking, and the ways in which it will developed both in tandem and in contradistinction to filmmaking in the Republic remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that Irish cinema has made incredible advancements, and it is unlikely that it will retreat in the near future. But where is Irish cinema headed -- what are the issues and concerns of filmmakers working in Ireland today? Trying to take into account as broad a range Irish films as possible, we pose the question, "what are Irish films talking about?"

On the 1st of March, 1981, Bobby Sands, an imprisoned IRA member, began his hunger strike. Protesting prison conditions for political prisoners, as well as the continued oppression of Ireland at the hands of the English, Sands spearheaded what would prove to be one of the key events in modern Irish history. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.