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For a century now filmmakers both Irish and foreign have been drawn to the inherent drama in the Irish struggle for independence. Fiction and non-fiction films dealing with the 1916 – 1922 period abound. This programme presents a broad range of cinema and television work focusing particularly on the 1916 Rising. The tones vary from reverent to satirical, from unashamedly nationalistic to politically interrogative. The compendium of foreign perspectives range from the simple, unmediated camera rushes of British newsreel cameramen to the more complicated narrative layers of John Ford’s adaptation of Sean O’Casey’s 1916 tenement masterpiece; Jack Cardiff’s spin on…

After ’16

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board Short Films

A programme of nine short films inspired by the subject of 1916 and what it has left in its wake, commissioned by the IFB. Programme includes fiction and non-fiction, live-action and animation, contemporary and period pieces.

After ‘16 is a once-off shorts initiative to commemorate, celebrate and ruminate on 1916.  Commissioned by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board.

  • A Father’s Letter DIRECTOR: Joe Dolan / 2016 / Ireland / 14 mins On the eve of his execution on May 7th 1916, Michael Mallin’s two-year-old son Joseph was  brought to see him in Kilmainham Gaol. That night, his father wrote a letter that would change Joseph’s life forever.
  • A Terrible Hullabaloo DIRECTOR: Ben O’Connor / 2016 / Ireland / 10 mins The story of young Vinny Byrne, a fourteen-year-old boy who found himself fighting for Ireland in the Easter Rising.
  • Baring Arms DIRECTOR: Colm Quinn / 2016 / Ireland / 10 mins There are many ways to commemorate the 1916 Rising, only one involves bloodshed.
  • Goodbye, Darling DIRECTOR: Elena Doyle / 2016 / Ireland / 12 mins Goodbye, Darling is one day in the enduring love story of Irish Volunteer Michael Joseph O’Rahilly and his wife Nancy.
  • Granite and Chalk DIRECTOR: Patrick Hodgins / 2016 / Ireland / 12 mins Delving into declassified British intelligence documents, this documentary tells the story of two spies, codenamed Granite and Chalk, who could have changed Irish history.
  • Yeats & The Beastly Coins DIRECTORS: Laura McNicholas, Ann Marie Hourihane / 2016 / Ireland / 10 mins Ten years after the Easter Rising, the Free State government asked W.B. Yeats to chair the design committee for creating new coinage for the new state.
  • My Life For Ireland DIRECTOR: Kieron J. Walsh / 2016 / Ireland 14 mins Dublin, Easter 1916. Irish rebel Patrick Pearse leads a revolt to free Ireland from the grips of the British Empire. Owen, a young patriot, wants to join them.
  • The Cherishing DIRECTOR: Dave Tynan / 2016 / Ireland / 15 mins When The Rising starts the local sweet shops are the first to be looted by Dubliners living in the tenements.
  • The Party DIRECTOR: Andrea Harkin / 2016 / Ireland / 13 mins Laurence welcomes his friend and man-on-the-run Mickey to a party of drinking, dancing and young love. By morning, reality catches up with them.

Screeners can be viewed on Screen Ireland’s YouTube channel.

Year: 2016

Duration: 2 hours aprox

Young Cassidy

Though only loosely based on the early life of Sean O’Casey (renamed Johnny Cassidy), this colourful drama includes key historical moments from 1911 to the late 1920s – the 1913 Lockout, 1916 Rising, and the riots at the opening of The Plough and the Stars, as it charts O’Casey’s ascent from bookish labourer to rebel to internationally renowned playwright. Australian Rod Taylor turns in a muscular performance as Cassidy bedding a series of women (Maggie Smith and Julie Christie) and swaggering through his encounters with Lady Gregory (an imperious turn by Dame Edith Evans) and W.B. Yeats (Michael Redgrave).

The film was begun by John Ford but when he became ill, acclaimed cinematographer Jack Cardiff stepped into the chair and directed a lushly hued visual delight – Dublin rarely looked better.



Notes by Sunniva O’Flynn

Year: 1965

Duration: 105 minutes

Plough and the Stars

In the spring of 1916, hostility towards the British is brewing on the streets of Dublin. Nora Clitheroe (Barbara Stanwyk) tries in vain to keep her husband Jack (Preston Foster) from joining the rebel forces for fear he will die fighting for Ireland. John Ford displays his wholehearted support for the Irish struggle for independence in this adaptation of Sean O’Casey’s long-running play. Hollywood stars Barbara Stanwyck and Preston Foster were cast in the lead roles at the insistence of the RKO Studio allowing Ford to ship in the cream of Abbey actors – Barry Fitzgerald, Denis O’Dea, Eileen Crowe, F. J. McCormick and Arthur Shields – to reprise their roles in the long-running stage play.

Notes by Sunniva O’Flynn

Year: 1936

Duration: 73 mins

Ryan’s Daughter

Made by David Lean whilst he was on a run of films that included Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter is arguably the most visually impressive film ever made in Ireland. Based on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the plot deals with Rosy Ryan’s (Sarah Miles) scandalous affair with a British officer. Most important, however, is the film’s distinctive epic scale; the production was long and drawn out while Lean waited for perfect weather conditions for his many and spectacular outdoor scenes, leading actor Robert Mitchum to comment that working with the director was “like constructing the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks.” Despite this, and the cool critical reception that the film received upon its release, it has since been recognised as a modern classic replete with spectacular footage of the beaches along the Dingle Peninsula, the breadth of which can only be fully appreciated on the big screen.

Year: 1970

Duration: 206 minutes

Mise Éire

Produced by the pioneering Irish language filmmakers Gael Linn, Mise Éire, draws almost exclusively on contemporaneous newspapers, newsreels and actuality footage from the early years of Ireland’s revolutionary period to present a history of that turbulence. The era under director George Morrison’s microscope is divided into three segments and spans from the late years of the nineteenth century through to the 1916 Rising and concluding with Sinn Fein’s electoral victory in 1918, a triumph that would be a precursor to revolution. The film’s approach to this history is avowedly patriotic, celebrating as heroes and martyrs those who involved themselves in the radical nationalist movement. The film is notable for the invaluble work of archival salvage undertaken by Morrisson in identifying and preserving moving images in Irish and British collections to create this feature length montage.

Year: 1959

Duration: 88 minutes

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Bringing his trademark left-wing politics to bear on Irish history, director Ken Loach here, through the figure of young revolutionary Damien O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy), explores the social issues involved in Ireland’s War of Independence and Civil War. Abandoning his career as a doctor, Damien joins his brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney) and committed trade unionist Dan (Liam Cunningham) in the fight against the British Empire, receiving training in fields using sticks and experiencing guerrilla combat and even capture. Partial success in the form of a divisive treaty with Britain sparks a Civil War that finds Damien’s family ties coming into conflict with his political commitments. A Palme D’or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, Loach offers a cinematic vision of Irish history which focuses on questions of nation and revolution through the eyes of a community.

Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival
Best Film at the 4th Irish Film and Television Awards 2007
Best Supporting Actor at the 4th Irish Film and Television Awards 2007
Best Irish Film (Audience Award) at the 4th Irish Film and Television Awards 2007
Best Cinematographer at the 19th European Film Awards 2006

Year: 2006

Duration: 127 minutes

What We Leave in Our Wake

Developed in the midst of Ireland’s devastating property crash and subsequent recession, director Pat Collins uses this documentary to explore the materials – the institutions, attitudes, and politics –from which modern Ireland is made. Beginning by observing that throughout Irish history ‘property was power’ What We Leave in Our Wake has prominent cultural and social figures, including Declan Kiberd and Lelia Doolan, talk about capitalism, Catholicism, emigration, Ireland’s urban/rural divide, and a host of other seminal issues. As this dialogue plays out, a montage of images of Ireland’s country and cities tells its own story about Ireland’s history. Despite the temptation for such a documentary to become didactic What We Leave in Our Wake leaves its questions unanswered, preferring to allow the viewer to consider their own attitudes to the recent transformations in Irish society.

Year: 2010

Duration: 70 minutes

Rocky Road to Dublin

Rocky Road to Dublin is a 1968 documentary film by Irish-born journalist Peter Lennon and French cinematographer Raoul Coutard (long-time collaborator of Jean-Luc Godard), examining the contemporary state of the Republic of Ireland, posing the question, “what do you do with your revolution once you’ve got it?” It argues that Ireland was dominated by cultural isolationism, Gaelic and clerical traditionalism at the time of its making. Astonishingly, this film, selected by the Cannes Festival to represent Ireland in 1968 and immediately shown across Europe and North America, was shunned in Ireland. Apart from one brief run in 1968 at the Dublin International Film Theatre it was never accepted for commercial or television release in Ireland until the 2000s. This is the film that, in the late ‘60s, shattered Ireland’s complacent view of itself as a liberated country.

The film is presented with the documentary Making of Rocky Road to Dublin.

Notes by Sunniva O’Flynn.

Year: 1968

Duration: 70 minutes

Michael Collins

An icon of Irish history, Michael Collins’ (Liam Neeson) life as a revolutionary becomes cinema in Neil Jordan’s historical epic. Retrenching after the failure of the 1916 Rising, Michael Collins sees its hero develop an army of street assassins whose guerilla tactics, after many violent reprisals, bring the British Empire to the negotiating table. Disputes with political leader Eamon De Valera (Alan Rickman) and a romantic tangle with his closest friend Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn) over Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts) overshadow the achievement of a peace treaty whose divisive qualities leads to Civil War and Collins’ death. Employing a stylised history that draws on crime films such as The Godfather in imagining the War of Independence and Civil War as being gang warfare, Michael Collins proved controversial on release. The debates it inspired, which often saw political figures offer an opinion, demonstrate not only the sensitivity of the topic, but the openness with which Jordan portrayed a violent political struggle.

Golden Lion Award at the 53rd Venice Film Festival 1996.
Volpi Cup Award for Best Actor (Liam Neeson) at the 53rd Venice Film Festival 1996.

Year: 1996

Duration: 132 minutes