Interview: New Irish Directors

New Irish Directors is a short series of film at the Model curated by Edel Doherty. To get under the skin of New Irish Directors, Rebecca Kennedy sat down with Edel to discuss the series and what it has to offer Sligo audiences.

Why the focus on Irish director’s?

It’s an exciting juncture. A new wave directors have been are being recognised in at Toronto, Cannes & the Berlinale. The directors in the series are quite contemporary. Some of the classic themes of Irish cinema are still there but they are being teased out in a more nuanced way. The way the film industry has moved in the past in that Irish film relied on outsider funding from Britain in the form of co-productions. Now, more and more co-production with Irish cinema is happening with other European countries. This is having an impact on how Irish directors are telling their stories; they becoming far more international and far less parochial. It’s an exciting time in the history of Irish cinema.

Is there anything regarding visuals or storytelling that separates Irish directors from their international counterparts?

Lenny Abrahamson for example is on his way to having a very distinct body of work. We don’t have a distinct visual director. We haven’t got a David Lynch or a Jean-Luc Godard in amongst our directors but we are terrific storytellers. Irish directors are catching up with their international counterparts in that sense. You know, a lot of stories have come out recently about our collective past. Stories of the Catholic Church and government corruption that we see continue even past reports and tribunals. Our filmmakers are not afraid to touch on that, even directly at times. It’s something you can really say about Irish film. We are fearless storytellers.

What film from the series would you most recommend and why?

Our last film Mammal is a complicated film on grief and loss. The Young Offenders is a sophisticated, pure comedy with some really beautiful, natural scenes. Each one shows something different. When it came to curating the series, we wanted the films to compliment each other and we wanted a balance overall.

If I had to choose one I would pick Further Beyond. There are a few reasons I would choose that. It’s our only documentary in the series. Dramas and fictions tend to get a bigger audience but so much creativity is happening with documentaries at the moment. The word “hybrid” is thrown around a lot with films like this. I think that Further Beyond is more of a film essay. And it has a Sligo connection.

It charts the journey of Ambrosio O’ Higgins who’s family were forced to leave their lands in Sligo and eventually travelled to what is now modern Chile. His son, Bernardo O’ Higgins was one of the first leaders of Chile after they gained independence from Spain. The film charts his journey by taking you to key locations that let you grasp some clues as to who this individual was. Further Beyond explores immigration and identity; themes that are at the core of any Irish film. We are looking at our past, our politics and our identity, at times very humorously.