- The Troubles
In cinematic terms this genre (as it can probably now be called) has been flogged to death. There are so many Irish films that have been made on this subject that we are at the stage of seriously diminishing returns. Films like Nothing Personal, Anton, The Devil’s Own, Resurrection Man, A Further Gesture, Some Mother’s Son, Bloody Sunday, Blown Away, Cal and Fifty Dead Men Walking are just some of the titles that come to mind. Of course there have been good and interesting films on the subject such as The Crying Game and Hunger which have added to the genre. But enough! More time needs to pass for a proper re-visiting. If we are to probe our past, where better to start than the 1916 rebellion with the one hundredth anniversary coming up soon. Surely that is a subject ripe for a revisionist take?
- The dumb Garda
How many films must we have in this country were the Gardaí are portrayed as hapless idiots. This may have begun accidentally with the famous Kit-Kat advertisement of the Garda traffic police at the side of the road who misses a car driving past him because he is having a break. Please give stupid, greedy and corrupt Gardaí a break on screen. Indeed we can see a somewhat similar character in the big Irish film at the moment, The Guard. In fact nearly all of the Gardaí portrayed in that film are either stupid or corrupt. Admittedly this extends to other countries as well but it would be good to see, just once, a film where the Garda is not divorced/alcoholic/corrupt/obsessed with one case that got away, why not somebody who just genuinely wants to do their job and go home?
- Be more universal
Where are the stories of the immigration to Ireland and its influences on the native culture? Sure there is a token foreigner in some of the films released in the last few years. There is a wealth of stories to be told about the immigration of the new Irish in the 1990s and 2000s. Parallel to this, there is also the story of the 1980s in Ireland with massive emigration from these shores. Jim Sheridan’s In America is about the only film that touches on this.
Another area worth ranting about in this context is the lack of an angry response on film to the global financial crisis and our relationship to it. What about Ireland’s role within the EU and where we fit into it? These are important areas that need to be explored. Stuart Townsend’s Battle in Seattle is the only film by an Irish filmmaker who has touched on this area.
Genre is a very interesting area when we are discussing Irish film. Apart from some recent examples it is not something we have done a lot of. In fairness we have had an interesting version of the musical with John Carney’s Once, and there have been variations on the zombie film (Dead Meat) and more recently the post apocalyptic story (One Hundred Mornings). This is a trend it would be good to see continuing and expanding in future. We obviously have made other films in genre terms like the troubles or the Irish gangster film (The General). But where are the modern Irish interpretations of Film Noir or of the Western for example? I think that an Irish spin on classic genres like these would make some very interesting films in the next few years.
- Promotion and Distribution
This is a tricky area that there is not an obvious solution for. The success of The Guard (€2 million at the Irish Box Office at time of writing) shows what can be done if you give an Irish film the advertising budget needed. This coupled with strong word of mouth can propel a film if marketed properly. The success of Ken Wardop’s His & Hers which had a record run at the now closed Lighthouse cinema (to be left for another article’s discussion) is an interesting case in point. A documentary about the lives of seventy women of all ages in the midlands of Ireland does not particularly sound like box office gold but is another example of what can be done if films are advertised to the right audience. If there is a little more bravery in spending some money on marketing there is every chance that we could see more Irish films in the cinema with an audience to see them.
Where do you stand on some of the areas raised? Have I missed out on examples that you could recommend? Please let me know below so we can start a much needed debate on these areas.