How It’s New York: Irish Screen America and New York Film Festival happen in New York City. Irish Rep’s Ciarán O’Reilly is in one of the shorts, and several of the directors live here.
How It’s Irish: “No Stone Unturned” is a film about the Troubles and New York Irish Shorts are made by Irish filmmakers
Last weekend was quite the film buff’s dream. Not only was Irish Film America hosting their annual film festival, but Lincoln Center’s New York Film Festival also opened. I was lucky enough to attend both in one day. Focused on Irish cinema, I began by seeing Alex Gibney’s “No Stone Unturned” at the Elinor Bunin Monroe film center. Described as a murder mystery in its title, going in I wasn’t sure if I was seeing a drama or a documentary, but it’s a murder mystery doc.
NO STONE UNTURNED
The film centers around the killing of six catholics by paramilitaries in a pub in Lachlanisland, a remote area in Co. Down, in 1994.
They were cheering on Ireland in the World Cup which was being played thousands of miles away in a New Jersey stadium. The Irish team were united for once, as the players – both from the republic and Northern Ireland – donned the Irish kit.
Even though the peace process was nearing some fruition inside diplomatic corridors, the streets outside showed little sign of change.
Nobody was ever convicted of the shootings[pullquote]The film is beautifully paced and is very suspenseful as each nugget of new information is drip fed to the audience along with the disappointment of the invariable dead ends along the way. [/pullquote]despite the fact that they found the getaway car and the weapon used for the killings in a nearby field a short few days after the murders – and even in 1994, there was plenty of forensic evidence at the authority’s disposal.
Working alongside the families of the victims, journalists, and the new Northern Irish regime, as well as former members of the power structure at the time, Gibney takes the viewer on two separate journeys, one with the official inquiry by the Northern Irish ombudsman and another where he acted as a sleuth – even hiring a private investigator at one point- to uncover the unofficial side of the investigation.
The film is beautifully paced and is very suspenseful as each nugget of new information is drip fed to the audience along with the disappointment of the invariable dead ends along the way.
Gibney brought us into the halls of power and onto the violent streets through both reenactment and interviews. The film is beautifully paced and is very suspenseful as each nugget of new information is drip fed to the audience along with the disappointment of the invariable dead ends along the way.
I won’t ruin this film by telling you the outcome – the official one is public and it was proven that there was collusion between the police, and by default, the official power structures of the time, to cover up evidence, but there remains uncovered truths that this film brings to light in very dramatic ending. The film will open at the newly re-opened Quad on November 10th.
IRISH SCREEN AMERICAN SHORTS
Skipping the Q&A with Gibney after the film, I hightailed it downtown to the Cantor Film Center to catch the final offering of the Irish Screen America festival. The shorts program featured six shorts by Irish filmmakers – located both here in NY and back in Ireland (predominantly in Dublin it is noteworthy to add.This culchie wonders where all the rural short filmmakers were hiding).
Outstanding were “Float” by Nicola Murphy and “The Long Wet Grass“ by Justine Davey with Roisin Kearney’s, “The Family Way“ providing humor and a great cast, which included a cameo performance by Jim Sheridan.
“Float” centers around a really inspired idea of how women are seen by different people in society. The leading role was a puppet, who only evolved into a human when viewed through the eyes of her father (Ciarán O’Reilly: artistic director of Irish Repertory Theatre).
“The Long Wet Grass” is deeply poignant, evocative and suspenseful.
The Long Wet Grass, written by New York City’s own Seamus Scanlon (via Galway) and Anna Nugent, also its female lead, with music by Marketa Irglova (The Czech composer/performer you may remember from “Once” and her work with Glen Hansard) was deeply poignant, evocative and suspenseful.
Similar to “No Stone Unturned”, it focused on the former armed conflict in Northern Ireland. In the Q&A afterward (I did get to stay for this one!), Seamus talked about the impetus for the film which was the ‘disappearing’ of people during the troubles for the relatively minor reasons, by their own organizations.
After watching the film, i have to say that while I was certainly moved and kind of stunned into an internal silence, it was not quite clear what had occurred in the plot. I felt like I missed something, but was enlightened by Seamus who shared in the Q&A that there is additional footage to be added which will make the film clearer for the audience.
They had shot it belatedly and it had not yet gotten edited into the version we saw. I am looking forward to seeing the full version, and even beyond that, would love to know more of this story. Seamus also talked about the process of adapting what was a three act play into this short, with his most significant gripe being that the work day on a film set were way too long!
The other films that successfully made the cut for this program were, “These Books by Tom Rowley, “Cyber by Diarmuid Hayes and “Sarah Whicker, 11th Hour by Jim Sheridan and starring Selma Hayek.