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2011 Festival Wrap-up

Posted by Daniel on March 23rd, 2011 with 0 Comments

'People on Sunday' at Killruddery Film Festival

A packed house, People on Sunday

Well, we are all now just taking a breath after what was another wonderful weekend at Killruddery. We were again delighted with the response to the festival and thanks to everyone who made it out. I had a particularly enjoyable this year, with less double programming I saw more films than ever before, and what films!

Morgan O Sullivan launching this year's festival in The Orangery

Some of the highlights-

Many of those that attended the festival cited People on Sunday as their standout of the weekend. It is an incredibly beautiful film and Stephen Horne did a fantastic job playing for it (the film is one of his personal favourites). The naturalism of the film quickly shatters any lingering preconceptions about the artificiality or theatricality of silent film acting. It is a film that launched many diverse careers, the directions of which were not clearly signposted by this early work. The film is explicitly experimental while also remaining accessible. A daring mix of documentary and fiction (a paradox that would echo through several films over the weekend), it is a film that really seemed to strike a nerve with audiences.

We opened the festival this year (after a generous and flattering introduction by Morgan O Sullivan) with Tony Tracy and Peter Flynn’s film Blazing the Trail -The O’Kalems in Ireland. Before this however we began with a screening of Come Back to Erin, a nearly century old film that had not been screened in public since its initial outing in the early part of the last century. The film is an emigration drama with incredible scenes shot on location here in Ireland, as well as others shot at sea, and also upon arrival in New York. Watching what must be some of the earliest filmed footage of emigration in Ireland, footage that had simply not been seen by anyone now living, was a moving experience, an experience that produced audible gasps from the assembled crowd. These were scenes that also resonate deeply with our own present circumstances and the impending exodus we now also face.

Peter Flynn (Director of Blazing Trail) & Tony Tracy (Producer) pictured at the Oficial launch of the 2011 Killruddery Film Festival

Tony Tracy & Peter Flynn, Director & Producer of' 'Blazing the Trail - The O Kalems in Ireland'

Peter Flynn and Tony Tracy’s passionate and deeply engaging documentary devoted itself to the complete story of the incredible film-making troupe that produced Come Back to Erin and many other films of similar importance. This project was clearly a labour of love for Tony and Peter, informed by what must have been years of diligent research and featuring input from many of the leading experts in this field. The film however never allows itself to get weighed down by its subject matter or the breadth of this research, it remains a gripping drama throughout. To experience the film with so many of its featured interviewees present, and to overhear the conversations it provoked after the screening, was also an additional bonus. The IFI will oversee a full DVD release of the film later this year so keep an eye out for that.


My own personal highlight, if I was forced to pick one, was Menilmontant, a film which screened as part of the Early Masterpieces of the Avant Garde programme. While it was a film I had known and appreciated for some time it was a revelation to see it with an audience and so ably accompanied by Justin Carrol. It was also rewarding to see I was not alone in my fondness for the film with many audience members visibly moved by it. This is an important distinction with a film like this, while the film’s formal attributes cannot be denied, a screening like this reveals it to be also a moving and effective portrait tracing the resilience of the human spirit through an incredibly accomplished lead performance. Speaking of which, what about Seventh Heaven? A thoroughly ludicrous and yet somehow also thoroughly convincing love story that bowled over the audience. A lot of wet faces at the end of this one too and some extraordinary playing by Stephen Horne.

A crowd gathers outside the screening room.

We finished out the weekend at The Mermaid Arts Centre with our 19th Century Magic Lantern Spectacular. A truly extraordinary event that refused to shy away from any of the complexities of everyday life during this period. Joss Marsh and David Francis presented us with a vivid, and almost entirely unromantic, vision of life during a period of profound and rapid change. A period when the realities of time and space were being collapsed through rapid technological advancement. There were no rose-tinted glasses here, instead we were presented with an empathetic and humane vision of the harsh realities and shocking inequalities that existed during the early stages of our modern, urbanised existence. The last sequence in particular, a story about a young girl’s attempts to transform the stark reality that surrounded her, was a moving and prescient simulacrum of what the cinema was to become for the urban working classes and an insight into the kinds of narrative this developing art form would favour.

A slide from the closing Magic Lantern event at Killruddery Film Festival 2011

All in all a great weekend and I would like to once again thank everyone involved and all those who supported the festival as well as our generous guests. We look forward to seeing you all again next year and we do have a few plans hatching for interim events so please stay in touch and sign up to our mailing list. Also if anyone has any feedback about the weekend or photos they took etc, we’d love to hear from you, e-mail us at filmfestival@killruddery.com. By the way the best way to keep track of events at Killruddery is by ‘liking’ our facebook page (link here).

We do also still have some copies of the limited edition numbered art print specially designed by Gavin Beattie for the festival. Check out how each one is made here and see the finished poster below. A wonderful reminder of the festival the poster features a projected image of Janet Gaynor, the beautiful star of Seventh Heaven, floating above The Orangery at Killruddery House. They are a snip at only 20 euro incl. postage, you can email info@killrudderyfilmfestival.com if you are interested.

Thanks again everyone and I look forward to seeing you next year, if not before,

Daniel Fitzpatrick (Festival Director)

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