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Ciné Gael Montréal Irish Film Series 1995

Our 1995 Season opened with the Canadian Premiere of Bob Quinn's The Bishop's Story, and also marked our first full fledged Evening of Irish Short Films. click to read more...


Thursday, January 19
 :: Opening night, Canadian Premiere, & Reception
The Bishop's Story (1993) 85mins Dir: Bob Quinn

with Donal McCann, Maggie Fegan, Ray McBride, Tomas O'Flaithearta, Peadar Lamb.

still photo from The Bishop's Story This story of a priest who falls in love with his "house-keeper" is a witty and oddly relevant exploration of what it means to fall from grace. It is also 'a beautiful celebration of non-professional Irish faces and the rugged island of Clare, Co. Mayo' - K. Murphy, Film Society of Lincoln Centre, N.Y

 Bob Quinn's latest film The Bishop's Story was somewhat of a breakthrough in that it is his first to be released in 35mm. The film however is a reworking of Quinn's 1987 film Budawanny (shot in 16mm, and which I do not discuss here), with a few new scenes shot in 35mm, some of the narrative reogranised and the release prints struck in the costlier gauge. "If Budawanny was the old Testament", he wrote in Film Ireland, "The Bishop's Story would be the New, the fulfillment of the Old."

 Across these genres and forms, Quinn concens himself with the liberation of the people of Ireland, and the diversity of his work indicates his recognition of the complexity of true liberation.

In this deliberate b/w homage to the silent era, a bishop (McCann) relates to a fellow priest (McBride) at a Roman Catholic retreat the story of how as a young man in a coastal village in the West of Ireland he fell in love with a girl (Fegan). The flashbacks which make up the body of the film are printed in sepia and shot in a style reminiscent of Flaherty and Sjöström. It's a nostalgic, memorable piece, from the veteran Bob Quinn, not so much for the resigned mood of the storyteller, as for the deeply moving imagery - a collie running up a hill; the white-clothed ankle of a girl; the dancing torches of a midnight search party; the expressive, weather-beaten faces of the villagers. The dialogue is in Gaelic, post-synched and quiet, as if heard from down the tunnel of memory. From TimeOut (UK)

Introduced by Padraig O Laighin, Professor and Author, Vanier College.

Thursday, February 2
Hidden Agenda (1990) 108mins Dir: Ken Loach
Hidden Agenda poster with Francis McDormand, Brian Cox, Brad Dorif, Jim Norton, Des McAller, Mia Zetterling. Written by Jim Allen.

Based on a real life incident - the killing of five unarmed men and a boy in 1982. Hidden Agenda is a riveting political thriller.

still photo from Hidden Agenda  Investigator Peter Kerrigan (Cox), assisted by Ingrid Jessner (McDormand), investigates the killing of Paul Sullivan (Dourif), an American civil rights lawyer and political activist in Northern Ireland, whilst he was accompanied by a Provisional Irish Republican Army sympathiser. The investigation reveals that the two men were shot without warning.
 A mysterious tape recording surfaces, made by a Captain Harris, an ex-army intelligence officer, now in hiding, of senior military leaders and Conservative party politicians discussing how they arranged the rise to power of Margaret Thatcher. Eventually, Harris gives a copy of the tape to Jessner, but British security forces kill Harris, and blame his death on the IRA. Kerrigan is blackmailed into silence about the conspiracy. Jessner still has the tape, but without Harris to authenticate it, the recording can be dismissed as a forgery.
This political thriller is set against the backdrop of Northern Ireland's "Troubles" and directed in the documentary fashion common to British filmmaker Ken Loach's films.
 Paul Sullivan (Brad Dourif) and Ingrid Jessner (Frances McDormand) are American attorneys serving on a human rights group working to monitor cases of prisoner mistreatment in war-torn Belfast. When Paul learns of some information that may be injurious to the Thatcher government, he is killed, and a top-secret tape disappears.
 Assigned to the case, Inspector Kerrigan (Brian Cox) is joined by Ingrid in probing Paul's death, which seems to be related to rumors of a high-ranking cabal within the British government working to undermine the Irish Republican Army and liberal policies toward Irish separatists through violent and illegal means. Ingrid meets with Harris (Maurice Roeves), a former British Secret Service agent who's now turned on his former cronies. Together, they look for the top-secret tape. -
From RottenTomatoes: Karl Williams
Thursday, February 23
Ulysses (1967) 140 mins Dir: Joseph Strick
with Milo O Shea, Joe Lynch, T.P. McKenna, Barbara Jefford, Martin Dempsey, Sheila O'Sullivan, Maurice Hoeves.
"James Joyce's masterpiece made it to the screen in this brave production. The acting is excellent..." Steven H. Sheuer - Movies on TV
Ulysses poster
Filming The Unfilmable: Joseph Strick's Adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses by Colm McAuliffe
In honour of Bloomsday, the day on which the fictional events of James Joyce's Ulysses take place, Colm McAuliffe celebrates Joseph Strick's often marginalised film adaptation of this supposedly unfilmable novel.
 For millions of people, June 16th is an important day. On this day, 107 years ago in 1904, two residents of Dublin, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, embarked on their epic converging journeys through the city, as depicted by James Joyce in Ulysses. Over the last thirty years or so on this day, celebrants of the book act out various scenes in cities and towns all over the world, displaying their willingness to be at one with the novel.
still photo from Ulysses  But the question is: how many people have actually read this famously difficult text? The answer is probably not very many; this book which strove to celebrate the everyday life of the common man and woman has endured the unkind fate of never being read by most of them.
 While the book itself may simply be too much for the everyday reader, this did not render the novel entirely unfilmable. In fact, it took Joseph Strick, an idealistic American, to fully realise its cinematic potential. After years of frustration, Strick managed to film the first and definitive version of Joyce on screen with his 1967 adaptation of Ulysses. Strick died in 2010 without ever seeing requisite acclaim afforded on his achievement. Indeed, the film caused great controversy at the time of its release. A significant number of subtitles were cut during its screening at the Cannes Film Festival, which Strick later dismissed as "corrupt and fake, and just a mechanism for keeping the hotels open".... click to read more...
Sunday, February 26th at 3:30pm
 :: A special showing of In the Name of the Father
    which was followed by a commentary by Gerry Conlon
In the Name of the Father (1993) 133 mins Dir: Jim Sheridan
with Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Emma Thompson, Mark Sheppard, John Lynch, Anthony Brophy, Saffron Burrows, Jamie Harris, Britta Smith, Don Baker, Corin Redgrave, Aiden Grennell, Bosco Hogan, Tom Wilkinson, Philip Davis.

In the Name of the Father poster In the Name of the Father still In our flyers we said, Ciné Gael Montréal, in conjunction with the Conservatory of Cinematographic Art is pleased to present Gerry Conlon, the real-life hero of the film who will offer a commentary after this special screening of his story.
 Whether you have seen In the Name of the Father before or not, Cine Gael and the Conservatory of Cinematographic Art urge you participate in this special presentation.


In the Name of the Father still  A rebellious youth in strife-torn '70s Belfast, Gerry Conlon's main interests were getting drunk and partying - much to the dismay of his quiet frail father Giuseppe. When Gerry angered the IRA, his father sent him to England where his antics landed him in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Innocent, but forced under torture to confess to a savage terrorist bombing, he was sentenced to life imprisonment as one of the Guildford Four.


In the Name of the Father still His innocent father was also arrested and jailed. Although it was widely known that the four were innocent, they languished in jail for fifteen years until, in the end, the authorities were forced to admit that a gross miscarriage of justice had occurred.

 In a few areas, this film takes liberties with the truth of Gerry's story. But the images of fanaticism and brutality, of corrupt police and of the deliberate and callous perversion of justice are frighteningly real and true.
Thursday, Mar 9th
Thursday, March 23
 :: Man of Aran and the Making of the Myth
    Introduced by Donato Totaro, Concordia Film Studies Department
This same pairing remains a perrenial favourite, being shown at New York's American Museum of Natural History as recently as 2010
Man of Aran (1934) 76 mins Dir: by Robert Flaherty
with Coleman (Tiger) King and Maggie Dillane.

Aran poster By André Sennwald   Robert Flaherty, the mellow wanderer with a camera, has made a memorable film out of the tragic and beautiful fundamentals of human behavior in his Man of Aran, which British Gaumont presented at the Criterion last evening. With the fervor of a poet and the skill of a magnificent cameraman he once more examines the theme which lies close to his heart, the grim and ceaseless struggles of primitive beings to preserve their lives against the crushing assaults of their environment. As in his Nanook of the North, he strips his new work of dramatic artifice and plunges it to the heart of earthy and basic experience. It is bare, cruel and authentically real; it is ardent with life, and it represents the pure cinema at its best. Expelling everything which is artistically alien to the camera, Mr. Flaherty employs only one ally, and that is music.
 The Aran Islands, he tells us in his foreword, are three naked wastes of rock off the western coast of Ireland. Empty of trees or soil or any natural gifts for the sustenance of man, they are exposed to the blind fury of the open Atlantic. In the Winter storms, the islands are almost smothered by the boiling sea, which piles up on the bare and unfriendly cliffs in endless and terrible cataclysms. On the Aran Islands, the negation of fruitfulness, man fights bitterly for the privilege of life. "It is a fight," says Mr. Flaherty, after two years on the islands, "from which he will have no respite until the end of his indomitable days." click to read more...

...and then
How the Myth was Made (1978) 58 mins
Dir: by George Stoney and James B. Brown
"Pioneer documentarian and NYU film professor George C. Stoney, along with co-director and cinematographer James B. Brown, uncover some of the misconceptions about legendary American documentarian Robert J. Flaherty's MAN OF ARAN by returning to Flaherty's The Myth still original interviews with islanders and piecing together how the filmmaker took liberal artistic license to construct the dynamic - and embellished - narrative of the classic film." [American Cinematheque]

 "Stoney's response to Robert Flaherty's classic 1934 Man of Aran revisits the Aran Islands four decades later and interviews surviving locals about their memories of the original film and their reactions to making this one. Examining the work of one of his intellectual forebears and its lasting effects on a community where he himself had roots - Stoney's grandfather was the doctor on the island where Faherty made his film - the director creates a persuasive and multi-faceted illustration of his belief that a filmmaker always leaves a mark on the people and places he films. Includes excerpts from the original documentary." from the American Museum of Natural History [AMNH]
Thursday, April 6th
High Boot Benny (1993) 82 mins Dir: Joe Comerford
with Francis Tomelty, Mark O'Shea.
High Boot Benny poster  This is the story of the matron of a school - cum - old barracks in Ulster who looks for love and motherhood with an aging defrocked priest and a wild young boy (Mark O Shea) who is more at home with animals than people.
 A police informer is found murdered in a small school pursuing a radical and independent approach to education just south of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Suspicion falls on the school's Protestant Matron and on Manley, an ex-priest who runs the school with her. Benny, a 17 year old delinquent who has found refuge at the school, is also implicated. In order to survive in the battle between contending 'armies', Benny has to break out of the isolation with which he tries to protect himself. His violent rite-of-passage exposes the deceptions which surround him and force him to take a stance. It asks the paradoxical question "On which side are you neutral?".
High Boot Benny still  Time Out says - The occasional playfulness of Reefer and the Model (1987) is replaced here - another response by director Comerford to the political impasse in present-day Ireland - by a more sombre mood. This is a more straightforward allegorical tale than its predecessor, set around a 'neutral' school run by 'The Matron' (Tomelty) and Manley (Devlin), a maverick ex-priest, on the windswept border between North and South. Teenage delinquent Benny, who sports a mohican and steel-shinned boots, is a metaphorical and literal outsider, who wanders the rugged landscape that surrounds the former fort, looking after animals, and taking refuge (and physical comfort) at the school. When the school 'caretaker' is found dead, Benny is drawn into the conflict between the police, the British Army, the Loyalist paramilitaries, and the IRA. Into the arms of which group will he be drawn? This is a potent blend of didactic history lessons, flourishes of elegant dark beauty, brooding psycho-drama and cold-blooded analysis. Strong performances.
 "It is a division about identity and democracy, about private emotions and public survival. High Boot Benny is an allegory on a conflict which has produced more deception than truth."
Joe Comerford
 Winner of the Prize of Discovery, Aubagne Film Festival, 1994
 and the Best Young European Actor Prize for Marc O'Shea, Beziers Film Festival, 1994.

Introduced by Montreal Gazette Film Critic, John Griffin
Thursday, April 20th
 :: Gala Closing [Canadian Premiere]
Out of Ireland: History of Irish Immigration to America (1995) 95 mins Dir: Paul Wagner
Out of Ireland poster The history of Irish immigration to the United States beginning with the exodus from the famine-swept villages of 19th century Ireland to the industrialized cities of 20th century America.
Out of Ireland still  This fascinating 1995 documentary covers two hundred years of Irish-American immigrant history. The chronicle is interwoven with a plethora of stills, drawings, on-location re-creations, historian interviews and personal stories of some of the more famous Emerald Isle emigrants, such as Aidan Quinn and Liam Neeson. Actress Kelly McGillis narrates this celebrated PBS piece, which also follows the lives of eight immigrants through their touching personal letters home to family members suffering through the mid-19th century famine.
 In Ireland, the story is of a people yearning for change even as they clung desperately to ancient traditions. In America, the story is of policemen and maids, priests and politicians, rogues, wanderers, and victims of discrimination, bemoaning their forced departure from the Old World even as they reaped the benefits of the New World.
Out of Ireland still  The mid-19th century famine in Ireland set the stage for one of the first great waves of European immigrants to America. They tested and profoundly changed America's notion of itself. As Walt Whitman would say, America had become a "nation of nations." Out of Ireland, therefore, is about all Americans and the profound historical and psychological consequences, which are out heritage as a nation of Immigrants.
 Musician Mick Moloney created the film soundtrack of traditional Irish music and is interviewed and sings in the film. The soundtrack includes performances by Eileen Ivers, John Doyle, Seamus Egan, Tommy Hayes, Jerry O'Sullivan, John Williams, Jimmy Keane and Eugene O'Donnell.
 Voice over by Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Aidan Quinn, Brenda Fricker, Michael Thornton and Pauline Cadell
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