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KNUCKLE

Director: IAN PALMER

85 minutes| Ireland-U.K.| 2011| Colour| D-Cinema


EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI

The screening of Knuckle at 18.50 on August 5th will be followed by a Q&A with director Ian Palmer.

Forget Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, this is the real thing – bloody, brutal and, above all, real. Filmmaker Ian Palmer moved among the Traveller community and spent over a decade recording the families’ traditional method of settling scores, bare-knuckle bouts conducted under strict rules, but lasting until one or both pugilists are unable to carry on. Without the hyped-up sound-effects of familiar movie fights, the footage appears surprisingly low-key at first, yet soon we’re seeing faces as raw as butcher’s blocks and wondering why these sons, husbands and fathers put themselves through it. What’s strong here is the trust between director and subjects: Palmer never patronises his interviewees (whose patter is helpfully subtitled!), but neither does his film accept their braggadocio at face value. Centre-stage, the fearsome and charismatic James Quinn McDonagh repeatedly says he’s not looking for fights, that the feuding is always the other side’s fault, but as the bruising encounters continue, perhaps it’s time for him to be judged by his actions. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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