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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Hibernia on Film

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The opening film of this year’s Magner’s Irish Film Festival, “A Song for Raggy Boy,” is a touching tale of institutional tyranny and the man who stands against it. The highlight of the 9th annual festival, the film shows the complexity of the Irish culture as a whole. The festival, held at the Brattle Theater and the Harvard Film Archive on November 8-11, includes films from all genres of Irish cinema.

From comedies to dramas, all aspects of Irish life are explored, the sense of humor and the joy of life, the sadness and the loss. Every step on the emotional spectrum is explored through the medium of film.

The festival began nine years ago, the first of its kind, by Emerson professor, Peter Flynn, as a way of presenting the works of Irish filmmakers to the mainstream public. He says that over the past ten years Irish cinema has made a shift to less parochial, less inward-looking point of view. As the economy in Ireland booms and immigrants from around the world flock to the island, the culture and values change as well, becoming more cosmopolitan and more global.

Through films like “The Crying Game” and “In the Name of the Father” Irish film has been met with critical acclaim here in America for years. The slate offered in this year’s festival does not disappoint in that regard.

Among other films this year are David Gleeson’s thrilling “The Front Line,” a story of kidnapping and bank heist and locally flavored “On Broadway,” the tale of a Boston playwright and his struggles to write about his family. Also, Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt star in the comedy, “Short Order,” about a short order cook who has the ability to produce food that can bring people to orgasm.

Irish cinema is vastly different from its American counterpart, with different expectations and therefore different outcomes. While American cinema is often focused mainly on making money and appealing to broad audiences, Irish cinema is more focused on presenting a realistic vision of Irish culture.

A panel of judges from the local Irish American community as well as the film community in the area screen films released in Ireland over the past year and choose the best of the best to be screened at the festival. As part of the festival an annual Excellence Award is presented. Past winners include Jim Sheridan, the director of films like “In the Name of the Father,” “The Boxer,” and “In America,” and Brendon Gleeson, best known for his role as Alastar Moody in the “Harry Potter” films.

This year’s recipient is the star of the film “A Song for Raggy Boy,” as well as “Michael Collins” and “Legends of the Fall,” Aidan Quinn. Born in Chicago, Quinn is an Irish-American actor who has held fast to his Celtic roots working in Irish films like “The is my Father” and “Evelyn.”

James Joyce once said, “We are all trapped in the nightmare of history.” This history, from the famine if the 1840’s and 1850’s, and political strife in Northern Ireland, is evident in much of Irish cinema. Many times, like in “Short Order,” the effects of the history are masked with comedy. This is another shift that has taken place in Irish cinema: more comedy, more lighthearted films.

So, hit the bar for a Magner’s or two and head over to the film festival that shares its name. Check out www.irishfilmfestival.com for tickets and more information.

About the Contributor
Michael Hogan served as the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Arts Editor: Spring 2007; Fall 2007