A SCENE from ‘The Drummer and the Keeper.’.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For years, Ireland’s most talented directors and actors had to head to Britain or the US if they wanted to make a living. But Irish cinema has been growing steadily stronger in recent years, and you can see the best of recent releases from the Emerald Isle at the Irish Film Week.
This year’s Irish Film Week starts on November 11 at the Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem Cinematheques.
Irish film has a rich history. Most moviegoers first became aware of Ireland on screen with the 1934 documentary, Man of Aran, directed by Robert Flaherty, about daily life on Ireland’s Aran Islands. Because of its spectacular scenery, Ireland has been the setting of many Hollywood movies, but the cast and directors were rarely native to Ireland.
Two of the biggest-name Irish directors, Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan, made movies at home before moving on to careers abroad, and some of their most enjoyable films were set in their home country. Sheridan’s 1989 film, My Left Foot, won a Best Actor Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis who portrayed Christy Brown, a young Irishman with cerebral palsy who became a painter and writer.
In 1992, Sheridan collaborated with Day-Lewis again on In the Name of the Father, in which the actor played an Irishman in London who was wrongly convicted of being an IRA terrorist. Neil Jordan focused on Irish history in the 1996 biopic Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn, and his breakout movie, The Crying Game, was about IRA terrorists who kidnap a British soldier. All of these films are well worth streaming or renting.
The films at the Irish Film Week reflect many facets of Ireland. While at one time, most of Irish cinema was centered on Dublin, these films are set all over the country, in several counties including Cork, Galway and Louth, as well as the capital.
There are comedies and dramas, and several of the films deal with people who have been marginalized, including people with disabilities.
In Nick Kelly’s The Drummer and the Keeper, an unlikely friendship develops between Gabriel, a bipolar drummer, and Christopher, an institutionalized goalie with Asperger’s. Gabriel is played by Dermot Murphy, who can be seen in the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, playing Bob Geldorf who organized the Live Aid Festival.
Len Collin’s Sanctuary looks at Larry and Sophie, a couple in love. But since they both have intellectual disabilities, they’re breaking the law in Ireland by having an intimate relationship. The movie, which has been shown all over the world, is similar in tone to the American film Keep the Change, and raises questions about society’s perspective on the disabled and romance between people who society thinks don’t know what is good for them.
Aoife McArdle’s Kissing Candice is about a 17-year-old girl who longs to escape her seaside hometown and takes refuge in fantasies. When she becomes obsessed with a troubled stranger, she gets dangerously entangled with a notorious gang.
People getting in over their heads in the criminal world is also the focus of The Young Offenders by Peter Foott. It’s a comic road-trip movie that was inspired by Ireland’s largest drug bust. Two teens cycle hundreds of kilometers on stolen bikes pursued by police to find a missing stash of cocaine worth over seven million euros.
Rebecca Daly’s Good Favour is a mystical parable about a devoted Catholic community in a small European village that welcomes a mysterious, wounded young man who slowly becomes part of their lives. Their curiosity about his background intensifies when it around him when it turns out he has magical powers.
To get information on schedules and to order tickets, go to the websites of the individual cinematheques.