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Irish Cinema

Irish Cinema

Despite not having a great tradition on cinema, the Irish industry is renowned among the best of Europe due its creativity. It all begun on April of 1896, a year after the infamous projection performed in Paris by the Lumiere brothers, when Henry Joly redcorded the first moving images in the country under the title: People walking in Sackville Street, Traffic on Carlisle Bridge and the 13th Hussars Marching through the City.

A Lad from Ireland

A Lad from Ireland

Silent cinema era

In the first decade of 1900, the cinema of Ireland began to pave its way in Irish culture. In 1909, Dublin’s –the capital- citizens witnessed the construction of The Volta, the first cinema theatre in the country and a year later was filmed A Lad From Old Ireland, the very first Irish movie, which also became –and was sold as- the first movie filmed between two continents: America and Europe.

Between 1910 and 1940, when silent film reached its peak and the first sound and spoken movies began to become popular, the Irish cinema produced an important amount of films through the recently established Irish Film Company, founded by Mark Sullivan. Amongst the most important productions of that era it’s worth to mention Fred O'Donovan’s Knocknagow (1917), John MacDonagh´s Willy Reilly and his Colleen Bawn (1920, George Dewhurst’s Irish Destiny (1926) and Tom Cooper’s The Dawn (1936), which was the first original sound film.

For Irish cinema

During the following two decades, another organization with aims for promoting cinema was founded. Thus, the National Film Institute promoted informative films treating subjects as rural technology improvement, finances managing and health. In those years, producer Gael Linn attempted to promote films spoken in Irish, juxtaposing the yet English-spoken films.

Among the most remarkable Irish-spoken productions it’s needed to mention a newsreel short film series called Amharc Éireann, which turned to be the longest run films of this genre in Irish cinema theatres. Furthermore, the director George Morrison gained fame for his documentaries Mise Éire (1959) and Saoirse (1960).

   

George Morrison

George Morrison

In the Name of the Father

In the Name of the Father

Modern cinema

A new tendency took Irish cinema by surprise since the seventies.  Social, economic, educative and political challenges began to be involved in the scripts of new productions. Besides the new trend, the arrival of TV in the country promoted professionalization for writers, filmmakers and technicians involved in the filming industry.

With that rich background, movies such as Bob Quinn’s Caoíneadh Áirt Uí Laoíre (1975), Poitín (1978), Joe Comerford’s Reefer y The Model (1988), and Alan Gilsenan’s The Road to God Knows Where (1988) and Prophet Songs (1990) gained international recognition.

Recently, the major Irish blockbusters have been Paddy Breathnach’s Alisa (1994), Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game (1992), Stephen Frears’ The Snapper (1993), Alan Parker’s –who also directed Madonna in 1997 on Evita- The Commitments (1990) and Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot (1989), The Field (1990) and In the Name of the Father (1993).

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