Irish Film Institute -International Film Directory – Category

First Wave

In Irish cinema ‘First Wave’ refers to those films made between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s which share thematic and stylistic concerns as well as the accolade of being the first sustained body of Irish films produced by Irish filmmakers. The films gathered here comprise that ‘First Wave’; from Pat Murphy’s discursive feminism, to Joe Comerford’s unflinching realism, and show new perspectives emerging –Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s of London Irish exile; Cathal Black’s urban dispossessed and Bob Quinn’s voice from the de-romanticised West of Ireland. With films deployed in styles ranging from avant-garde to neo-realist, this collection represents one of the most radical and exciting bodies of work in Irish cinema.

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Anne Devlin

Pat Murphy, 121 minutes, 1986

Irish history is often dominated by male names such as Pearse, Collins, Wolfe Tone, and Emmet; Anne Devlin rejects this imbalance by narrating the life of its titular figure, who resisted torture and confinement rather than betray her comrades to…


Kieran Hickey, 55 minutes, 1983

Adapted from a work by William Trevor, Attracta is a searing account of lone voices resisting the bloodshed of twentieth century Ireland, told through the figure of the elderly, institutionalised Attracta (Wendy Hiller). An orphan of Ireland’s War of Independence,…

Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire (Lament for Arthur Leary)

Bob Quinn, 57 minutes, 1975

Following in the footsteps of James Joyce and Flann O’Brien, Bob Quinn blended postmodern scepticism of official narratives with visions of Irish history in this film. Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire begins as the story of a group of unruly players…

Down the Corner

Joe Comerford, 60 minutes, 1977

Funded by the Arts Council and the British Film Institute Production Board, Down the Corner was produced in 1976. It was an attempt to make a community film with and within the working class community of Ballyfermot in Dublin. The…


Kieran Hickey, 48 minutes, 1978

A socially dissident drama from director Kieran Hickey, Exposure is a courageous assault on a smothering cultural conservatism prevalent in Ireland in the 1980s. Three surveyors – married men Dan (T.P. McKenna) and Eugene (Bosco Hogan) and single man Oliver…


Pat Murphy, 110 minutes, 1982

One of Ireland’s most critically renowned and radical filmmakers, Pat Murphy made her debut here with the unshakeably committed Maeve. Feminist in its politics and experimental in its style, the film follows Maeve (Mary Jackson), a young woman in war-torn…

On a Paving Stone Mounted

Thaddeus O'Sullivan, 96 minutes, 1978

Funded by the BFI’s film production fund, Paving Stone is O’Sullivan’s feature-length, mixed-mode experimental film. It tries to express the emigrant condition through the central dilemma of the function of memory. Its action moves back and forth between location sequences…

Our Boys

Cathal Black, 42 minutes, 1981

Politically and technically bold, this short docu-drama from Cathal Black fuses dramatisation, interviews, and archive footage in an exposé of the culture of fear and brutality that defined the regime in educational institutions run by the Christian Brothers. The narrative…


Cathal Black, 78 minutes, 1984

Made in the midst of Ireland’s crippling 1980s recession, Pigs is infused with a sense of fury and despair born out of director Cathal Black's socially-engaged consciousness. Jimmy (Jimmy Brennan), a gay man separated from his wife, moves into a…

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