Film Fortnightly – June pt 2
The past is very much a present topic for many of the Northern Irish film offerings this month.
Specifically for a new series commissioned by Northern Ireland Screen that will allow guest curators to use its Digital Film Archive to present themed showcases of Northern Irish history.
Rose Baker and Laura O’Connor of WANDA, a feminist film festival and programming collective based in Belfast, have curated the first iteration online, with a live event supported by Film Hub NI to follow. It aims to show how women and gender norms have been represented across a nearly fifty years worth of this region’s moving image heritage. The collection ranges from 1944 and a short documentary on Belfast’s war contribution with an emphasis on the women who worked the factory line, to 1991 and a report on teenage mothers from the UTV magazine show Counterpoint, with much more in between. You can access the collection here while video and written essays that contextualize the collection, along with illustrations by local artist Fiona McDonnell, are available over at the WANDA website.
Meanwhile, QFT Player has updated it programme with One Million American Dreams (2018), director Brendan Byrne’s follow-up to his acclaimed docudrama, Bobby Sands: 66 Days. This documentary uses archival images along with new interviews and a narration from actor Sam Rockwell to tell the story of New York’s Hart Island. The home to a million pauper’s graves, as it is occupied by a cemetery by those unclaimed in death, and neglected in life. This title is available to purchase as part of the player’s paid collection.
There have also been several additions to the Player’s free collection. In The Uncle Jack (1996), Director John T. Davis sheds his usual observational documentary style to create what he calls ‘a 250,000 pound therapy session’. A deeply personal analysis of his close but ultimately fraught relationship with his uncle John McBride Neill, a cinema architect and the man who fostered Davis’ love of the medium. You can take a closer look at one of McBride Neill’s creations with The Curzon Project (2018), director Jon Beer’s short documentary remembrance of Ormeau Road’s Curzon Film Centre, a defunct but still much loved landmark of the Belfast film scene. You can find a film not about then but now with Furloughed (2020), a short film about a man and his dog in lockdown, directed by Dominic Curran with music by Chris W. Ryan (Robacobra Quartet).