Director: Robert J. Flaherty

12 minutes, Ireland, Black and White

This film screened on Thursday 9th July 2015.

We are delighted to welcome a panel of linguists, folklorists and film historians to discuss the significance of this remarkable find: Natasha Sumner (Harvard); Baebara Hillers (UCD); Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh (UCD); Deirdre Ní Chonghaile and Luke Gibbons (NUIM). 

When in 1934 Robert Flaherty brought the cast of his seminal documentary Man of Aran to London to record the film’s dialogue sound, he made a second film, his first synch-sound production, Oidhche Sheanchais.

In it the cast , together with Seáinín Tom Ó Dioráin, a renowned Aran Island storyteller, gather around a studio hearth for a night of story and song in their native tongue. The film was the first Irish-language talkie and Ireland’s first official state-sponsored film. It affirms Flaherty’s fascination with remote and primitive cultures and his ardent belief in cinema as a faithful recorder of folklore.

It disappeared soon after it’s release until in 2013 a nitrate print was discovered in the Celtic Studies Department in Harvard University and was meticulously restored by the Harvard Film Archive.

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