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The glass may be half empty but it will contain good whiskey. I write film reviews for http://www.scannain.com/ , say hi and we can debate films forever and ever and ever...... Warning this blog may contain more than just film talk.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ireland on Screen: I want to scream

Beginning last night with Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer, RTE began its latest attempt to support Irish film with an Ireland on Screen season. It will run for two weeks and will have a number of premieres during that time. As a concept this is a very good idea, showcasing Irish film for people who would not be overly familiar with recent output. But the devil is in the details and as soon as you read through the listings several problems emerge.

The first thing that comes to mind is that there is no real structure to the season. It was only announced the day before it was scheduled to begin which means no real time for advertising the season. This is important as some advertisement is probably necessary for people who have no specific interest in Irish film as a whole. As far as I am aware (and I missed The Boxer last night so I could be wrong) there is no real attempt to put the season in context. Would it have cost too much to maybe have someone introduce each film or even just the season? An Irish film academic or film fan, maybe a director or actor, hell even Dave Fanning. It would be refreshing to have someone to say where each film stands in the overall canon of Irish film. Alas this does not appear to be the case.

Another issue is that there is no standard times or days that each film is being shown. The season lasts only two weeks for some reason, the films are scheduled on various days and truly bizarre times. The Boxer kicks off the season at 11.30pm! This is madness if you want to draw viewers in. A quick scan of the schedule could only lead you to believe that it was decided by a World Cup style draw. Films, days and times put into a giant hat and picked out randomly. This is not good. All of this would be forgivable (indeed since Moviedrome there has been a reluctance to introduce film at all on TV which is a real shame) if it wasn’t for the biggest problem of all.

The main issue is simply the choice of films on offer. Looking through the list is groan inducing. There is always going to be some films that will be on any season for familiarity reasons. This is to help get people to watch who otherwise may not bother. This season is full of those kinds of films. This is not a criticism of the quality of any of the choices, more that there is a dull and safe feeling to their inclusion. Films like Michael Collins, The Boxer and In the Name of the Father are too familiar to offer something different. To be fair there are a couple of films I do genuinely want to see, namely His and Hers and The Runway. But where is the sense of risk? Where is the low budget and unfamiliar films of the last few years? Where are films such as Snap, As if I am Not There, Between the Canals, Garage, Hunger, Guiltrip, Accelerator, The Other Side of Sleep, Kisses, Pyjama Girls? There is an argument that at least RTE are making an attempt to help out the Irish film industry here, indeed they also invest financially in Irish film to be fair. But one can’t help feel that there is a real missed opportunity to showcase a diverse selection here. And that is the real pity.

Here is the list of films being shown

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