Rare Films of Ireland

(Touring Festival 2014-2015)

Rare Films of Ireland
The Work Of Angels: The Book of Kells Frederick Douglass
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill –Taibhsí I Mbéal Na Gaoithe Don Battee

The Work Of Angels: The Book of Kells

(Documentary 2000)

The Work of Angels - The Book of Kells

The Work of Angels - The Book of Kells

Book of Kells - The Work of Angels

The Work of Angels - The book of Kells

The Work of Angels - The Book of Kells

Louis Lentin 1933-2014

Producer Louis Lentin 1933-2014
Louis Lentin passed away on 22nd July 2014.

Solferino Cinemas was very privileged to have dealt with him to bring one his many films to Australia. He was a giant of the Irish film industry with an enormous body of work that spanned decades. Our respects go to his family. He was a truly distinguished filmmaker.

Director: Murray Grigor Producer: Louis Lentin (1933-2014) (57mins) Rated G

With The Book of Kells at its centre, this wide ranging film explores how the greatest Irish work of art to survive from the middle ages came to be made on the edge of the then known world. It reveals how native Irish artists took designs from the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Europe and amalgamated them with their own craft traditions in metal working and stone carving to create a work which was so astonishing in the elaboration of its invention that for centuries it was considered to have been ‘the work of angels.' From the intricacies of its most minute details to the mastery of the overall design of its great illuminated pages, the film reveals in close-up photography the glorious achievement of the medieval artists and scribes.

Using imaginative cinematic techniques to capture the Celtic magic of shape shifting, the film ranges across Pictish symbol stones in Scotland, Irish high crosses and metalwork to place the great work of calligraphy and art in the context of its time. Celtic designs inspired by scenes from the life St. Anthony, the first monk, take us to his monastery in the desert of Upper Egypt to show how the early Irish scribes owed so much to the traditions of the Eastern Church. Against a backdrop of forbidding seas and lowering skies a silver crozier glistens as it makes its stately procession northwards symbolizing with sung voices St Columba's journey from Ireland to create his monastery on the wind-swept Scottish island of Iona, where most scholars agree the great gospel Book of Kells was produced two centuries after he died.

A range of international scholars unravel the meaning behind the elaborate decoration of the great gospel Book of Kells that could complement such masterpieces as the Ardagh Chalice on the high altar and take its place there as an object of intense spiritual contemplation. Above all the film revels in the sheer invention of the creative artist monks and how they enlivened their incomparable curvilinear script with the vigor of life and how they planted enigmatic and fanciful beasts curving through the text and reveals the wry humour of the artists who set cats against mice, painted writhing serpents, otters hunting, fishes swimming and peacocks strutting to remind us all of our immortality.

Although the Viking attacks of the ninth century appeared to bring the great epoch of Irish art to a sudden end it continued for centuries to blossom abroad in such monastic centers as St.Gall in Switzerland where we see illuminated manuscripts in the tradition of the Book of Kells. It is a work that has inspired many writers and artists, amongst them James Joyce in his famous passage on the Tunc page in ‘Finnegan’s Wake'

The inspired photography of Seamus McGarvey and the hauntingly resonant music by the talented Michael McGlynn performed by ANUNA enwraps Murray Grigor's exploration of the Book of Kells, produced by Louis Lentin.

A Crescendo Concept with Muse Film and Television New York and Viz Ltd. Edinburgh, for RTE and Comataidh Craolaidh Gaaidhlig and The Irish Film Board

Made with the assistance of Bord Scannan na hEireann / the Irish Film Board; the Delmas Foundation. Produced with the support of investment incentives for the Irish Film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland. Distributed with the support of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.

Banff Nomination 2001.
New York Festivals Finalist: 2000

Director Murray Grigor OBE is a highly prolific and awarded Scottish filmmaker and exhibition curator who has made over 50 films with a focus on arts and architecture documentaries. In the mid sixties he commenced his film career at the BBC and was later appointed director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. In the 1970’s Grigor made arts and architecture a focus of his filmmaking completing documentaries on many renowned American, British and Italian architects, including Robert Adam, John Lautner, Carlo Scarpa, Sir John Soane, Gwathmey. Grigor also worked on, and curated, art exhibitions including in 1976 the opening exhibition of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, titled Man TransForms.

In 1981 he was awarded a US/UK Bicentennial Fellowship to research and write a feature length documentary film on Frank Lloyd Wright in collaboration with David Peat and Anne Baxter, the architect's granddaughter who provided the narration. "The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright" received many awards including a ‘Citation by the American Institute of Architects' the first ever to have been awarded to a filmmaker. Since the 1980s Grigor widened his film focus to cover more international, and particularly American subjects, such as the 1986 landmark series Pride of Place with Robert A. M. Stern for the American television channel PBS. In 1997 he directed the PBS series "The Face of Russia" with James Billington, the Librarian of Congress". Others include “Contemporary Days" on the British designers Robin and Lucienne Day for Design Onscreen of Denver Colorado, was premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in February 2011.

Grigor is the writer of all screenplays for all his films, and is the author of a number of exhibition catalogues. He was co-author of "The Architects' Architect" on C.R. Mackintosh with Richard Murphy and "Sean Connery - Being a Scot" with Sir Sean Connery, published in 2008 and which is now published in seven languages. In the late nineties Grigor was director of Channel 4 UK. In 2001 he made “The Work of Angels” after which he wrote and directed another 12 documentary films up to 2013.

In 2007 he was appointed a member of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission. Grigor is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was the first filmmaker to be made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Grigor is a Visiting Professor of Film Studies at the Anglia Ruskin University from which he received in 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Arts and was the first recipient of the Royal Television Society Reith Award. His film “E. P. Sculptor” on the artist Eduardo Paolozzi won the Rodin Prize at the 1992 Paris Biennale.

The film Nineveh on the Clyde on the architecture of Glasgow architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson won awards at Montréal and from Europa Nostra at Toblach, Italy. Grigor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to architecture and the film industry.

Frederick Douglass and the White Negro

(Documentary 2008)

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Director: John. J Doherty Producer: Catherine Lyons (52mins) Rated G
Don Battee

Special Guest Presenter Don Battée, American actor (The Sapphires, The Matrix, X-Men Wolverine) and writer and producer will introduce the film on Frederick Douglass. Don will also discuss his own project ‘Terra’ a drama work in development on the subject of convict American slaves during the founding years of NSW and their relationship to Irish convicts and the Indigenous Community. (15 mins)

WARNING:  This film has some disturbing illustrations and concepts that may distressful to younger children.  M is an advisory classification. This classification advises audiences that a level of maturity is required in relation to the film. Anyone can gain admission in a cinema to an M film.

Frederick Douglass and the White Negro is a documentary telling the story of ex-slave, abolitionist, writer and politician Frederick Douglass and his escape to Ireland from America in the 1840s. After his escape from slavery and writing his autobiography which included all the actual names of his ‘owners’ to prove he was telling the truth, his only option was to leave his family behind and flee the United States of America since now his life was in danger. The film follows Douglass’ life from slavery as a young man through to his time in Ireland where he befriended Daniel O’Connell famous at the time in America for his support of the anti-slavery movement as he fought for Catholic emancipation in Ireland.

Frederick Douglass toured the country, as an escaped slave, spreading the message of abolition and was treated as a human being, to his surprise, for the first time by white people as he noted later in the second edition of his autobiography My Bondage and my Freedom (1855). His arrival in Ireland coincided with the Great Famine and he witnessed white people in what he considered to be a worse state than his fellow African Americans back in the US. The film follows Douglass back to America where he is able to buy his freedom with money raised in Ireland and Britain (he even had enough left over to start his own abolitionist newspaper The North Star).

Fellow passengers on his return journey include the Irish escaping the famine who arrive in their millions with very little and would go on to play a major role in the New York Draft Riot of 1863 where so many innocent black people were murdered and which Douglass could only despair over. The film examines the turbulent relationship between African Americans and Irish Americans during the American Civil War, what drew them together and what drove them apart and how this would shape the America of the twentieth century and the era of Barack Obama.

“I can truly say I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life...I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip …’” While so much has been written about Frederick Douglass, this film is a refreshingly original look at a largely unknown part of his life and his extraordinary experience in Ireland. Aside from revealing a piece of history long obscured, the film gives us a fascinating glimpse into the relations between Irish and African-Americans.”
     -Howard Zinn (Author of the bestseller A People’s History of the United States)

Documentaries aren’t usually my thing...but for this one I’ll make an exception. This fascinating programme tells the story of Frederick Douglass, a black man who escaped slavery in 19th century America and fled across the Atlantic to take refuge in Ireland at the height of the Great Famine.  An extraordinary look at a life that proves life is stranger than fiction.
    -Review by Naomi McElroy (Sunday Mirror, 2009)

The documentary I’ve just seen on TG4 is the best thing I’ve seen on television in years. I am in awe that you managed to combine such political clarity with such entertaining (and wonderfully-crafted) presentation. The spirit of challenge was expressed not just in the content but in the form as well... I’m uplifted (rare event!) that you have created such an inspiring documentary out of the material, a lot of which was new to me. An Oscar wouldn’t be good enough.”
     -Donal O’Kelly Writer/Actor ‘The Cambria’  a play based on Frederick Douglass’ sea-crossing from America to Ireland as an escaped slave.

Produced by Camel Productions Ireland. The company was formed by Catherine Lyons & John J Doherty with a view to produce high quality Irish film and documentaries. They focus particularly in the area of arts and culture as well as drama of a challenging nature, and dance film. Camel Productions have screened on TG4 and RTE (Ireland) as well as on TV and in festivals around the world such as Sky Arts in Britain and TV New Zealand. They sell and distribute a catalogue containing both their own films and others produced outside the company.

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill –Taibhsí I Mbéal Na Gaoithe

(Documentary 2007)

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill –Taibhsí I Mbéal Na Gaoithe

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill –Taibhsí I Mbéal Na Gaoithe

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill –Taibhsí I Mbéal Na Gaoithe
Director: Pat Collins Producers: Niamh Ní Bhaoill, Philip King (50 mins) Rated G

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill – Taibhsí i mBéal na Gaoithe by award-winning documentary maker Pat Collins, is a fascinating and intimate look at the life and work of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, one of Ireland’s most celebrated contemporary poets. With the skill of a born storyteller the poet describes in this one-hour programme the landmark events that have helped to shape her life and weaves an incredible tale of displacement, true love, tragedy, violence, and joy. Peppered with her lyrically beautiful Irish language poems and writings, Taibhsí i mBéal na Gaoithe sweeps the viewer up and carries them through the enthralling story of her life and work to date.

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill was five years old she was sent to live with her aunt for a year in the small west Kerry village of Ceathair a Treantaigh. There was no electricity, no running water, no English spoken there. It was here she first heard ‘the beautiful, sparse, graceful sentences’ that made her fall in love with the Irish language, with a passion so enduring it would affect everything she wrote. She started to keep a diary when she went to secondary school in Limerick’s Laurel Hill, where she was encouraged to enter a poetry competition and won £3. She has continued the practice of writing a diary all her life and these highly personal records of events in her life are a recurring touchstone throughout Taibhsí i mBéal na Gaoithe.

Her meeting with her future husband Dogan Leflef from Turkey was one event that would have a resounding influence on her life. ‘Muslims put all their faith in destiny,’ she comments in the programme. ‘They believe your fate is predestined and that it’s written on your forehead. But it’s written backwards so you can’t read it.’

What was destined for eighteen-year-old Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill was a war with her devout Catholic parents that would threaten to destroy her. ‘They tried to break me,’ she says now. ‘And I came very close to being broken.’ It was during this period of separation and longing that she started to write poetry in earnest. ‘All these poems came to me. They saved my life.’

As a young woman Nuala left Ireland for a new life of marriage and motherhood in Turkey. She describes her first year in Turkey without the language as ‘an awful imprisonment....’ She would return to Ireland where the ensuing period of the 1990s was highly creative yet personally trying where she hit rock bottom and was unable to write. ‘I lost all confidence in myself, and for the first time in my calling. It was like becoming blind overnight, like losing the power of speech.’

Woven through the film is her actual poetry, haunting, other-worldly, heart-rending and with the deepest meanings. Her prolific genius has now elevated her to be regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest poets.

The film draws to a close with the poet about to leave for America to teach in Notre Dame University.

Produced by Niamh Ní Bhaoill & Philip King and directed by Pat Collins.

Produced by Sibéal Teo, Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland.
For further information contact Niamh Ní Bhaoill on 00 353 66 9152555. Email: niamh@sibealteo.com.

Director Pat Collins is well known for his engaging documentaries however 2013 saw the release of his debut feature “Silence” reviewed as a stunning debut drama film, full of philosophy, poetry and visual beauty. His previous highly awarded documentary work includes the 2005 documentary ‘A Private World’ featuring writer John McGahern, which won a gold medal at the 2005 Cinegael Buffalo Film Festival (USA), Best documentary award at the Celtic Film Festival 2006 and Best English Language Documentary award at the Irish Film and Television Awards 2005. Other award winning programmes he has directed include ‘Abbas Kiarostami: The Art of Living,’ which was picked up for international distribution by MK2 France in 2004 and has played in over twenty international festivals He has directed documentaries on the Irish writer Frank O’ Connor and the Irish language poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. In 2004 ‘John McGahern: A Private World’ won the Best Irish Documentary Award at the Irish Film and Television Awards. In the same year his documentary ‘Marooned’ won the Best Irish Sports Documentary award and it also won Best Sports Documentary at the Celtic Film Festival.

Accompanied by Cruschen On (1995) a short film by Catherine Lyons (18 Mins).

Rare Films of Ireland

 Screenings 2014-2015

  Saturday 26th September 2015
  Old Katoomba Library, Katoomba, Blue Mountains NSW
  Saturday 16th August, 2014
  Wesley Fellowship House, Beaumont St, Hamilton, Newcastle NSW
  Presented by the Newcastle & Hunter Valley Folk Club
  Friday 6th June, 2014
  Sydney University Coop STUCCO Studio Space, Newtown, Sydney NSW
  Sunday 11th May, 2014
  Mechanics' Institute, Lawson, Blue Mountains NSW

Presented with the Assistance of the Irish Film Institute,
IFI International/Irish Film Institute, Arts Council and Culture Ireland

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