Knocknagow (Fred O'Donovan, The Film Company of Ireland, 1918).
Wednesday May 25th, 7pm. Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway.
The Film Company of Ireland was established just prior to the Easter Rising in March 1916, co-founded by James Mark Sullivan and Knocknagow's director Fred O’Donovan. Initial production focused on comedies and these films proved very successful. Despite losing staff and having their premises damaged as a result of the Rising, The Film Company of Ireland continued production and began filming its most ambitious production, the feature-length Knocknagow, in the summer of 1917. Based on Charles J. Kickham’s popular novel, Knocknagow; or the homes of Tipperary (1873), the film tells the story of the land clearances of the 1840s and was a popular success in Ireland and among Irish audiences internationally when released in 1918.
The screening of Knocknagow will be accompanied by music provided by Irish musician, composer, improviser and actor Morgan Cooke. Based in Dublin since 2010, Morgan Cooke has played live soundtracks for a range of screenings and events including the following :
Galway Film Fleadh 2010 – The O’Kalem Collection
JDIFF 2011, 2012, 2013 – Sherlock Jr., Cops, One Week (Buster Keaton), Safety Last (Harold Lloyd)
Cork Film Festival 2011, 2013 – Come On Over, Irene (starring Colleen Moore).
1916: The Irish Rebellion (Ruán Magan and Pat Collins, 2016)
Thursday, May 26th, 1.45pm, Huston School of Film & Digital Media.
This documentary examines the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and the subsequent events that led to the establishment of an independent Irish State and indirectly to the breakup of the British Empire. Narrated by Liam Neeson, this film places the Irish Rising in its European and global contexts as anti-colonialism found its voice in the wake of the First World War. It explores the crucial role of the United States and of Irish America in both the lead up to and the aftermath of the events. 1916 will broaden public understanding of the historical interconnections between Britain, Ireland and the United States, connections that continued to have significance up to and including the recent Irish peace process.
Followed by Q&A with Writer and Producer Bríona Nic Dhiarmada (University of Notre Dame).
The Plough and the Stars (John Ford, 1937)
Thursday, May 26th, 6pm, Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway.
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.
The print screened of The Plough and the Stars is kindly provided by the Irish Film Institute.
The American Who Electrified Russia (Michael Chanan, 2009)
Friday, May 27th, 2pm, Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway.
The American Who Electrified Russia explores the relationship between history and family memory through the biography of an individual unrecorded in the history books whose life was nonetheless intertwined with history, but in a paradoxical fashion. Solomon Abramovich Trone (1872-1969) was the director’s maternal grandmother’s first cousin. A participant in the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, he was also a director at General Electric, first in Russia before the First World War and then after it in America. Behind the scenes, he was a key figure in the electrification of the Soviet Union. In 1928 he was signatory – for GE – of the first contract between an American corporation and the Soviet Union. A forgotten bit of history – because it was doubtless inconvenient for either country to remember it – which is here unfolded before our eyes through archive footage, including a marvelous but forgotten film by Esfir Shub, K.Sh.E. (Komsomol Patron of Electrification) from 1932.
After retiring from GE, Trone worked as an industrial adviser in China, India and Israel. In 1940, he helped to rescue Jewish refugees from Germany. Five years later, Roosevelt appointed him to the Allied Reparations Commission, which reported to the Postdam Conference. Nonetheless, in 1953, at the height of McCarthyism, the Americans withdrew his passport, and he settled in London.
The film is not merely a celebration of Trone’s extraordinary career, but pursuing what Walter Benjamin called ‘the enigmatic question…of the biographical historicity of the individual as such’, investigates the contrast between family memory and history in its recorded forms, thereby to recover a lost perspective on the history of the twentieth century.