Director Gerard Hurley believes he will have to leave Ireland for work
By David Hennessy
Since leaving his home town of Skibbereen, West Cork, Gerard Hurley has travelled the world, written many screenplays and directed his first feature film, a story about an American traveller who is released from prison and his attempts to restore the life prior to his incarceration. However, Gerard’s latest film sees him returning to his roots.
The Pier tells the story of Jack McCarthy who returns home to his rural home in Ireland when he hears his father is at death’s door. But Jack lands to find his father alive and well. Furious but without the money to fly straight back, Jack remains to help his father recoup a few bad debts. A study of a fraught relationship between father and son, The Pier is also a daring representation of something we are all familiar: Returning home to find some things have changed and some things haven’t.
Gerard is writer and director as well as leading actor in this film that can be soon seen at The Irish Film Festival, London. What moved him to tell this story? “Basically I just wanted to honour the part of the world that I come from which is rural West Cork. Looking at films that have been made over the years, either by Hollywood or bad movies that depicted rural Irish life, I just felt I wanted to address subject matters that have impacted me personally. It’s not an autobiographical story but it’s personal. All emigrants from rural Ireland have gone through this, we’ve had to leave our homes and go to England, Australia, Canada, America, whatever. The other aspect was what brings you back to your homeland.
“There’s been a lot of great Irish movies but there’s not been a lot that get into rural Ireland with an honest portrayal. I’ve lived all over the place and when I came back to Ireland, I observed an awful lot of changes concerning the Ireland I left and the Ireland I came back to. Some of them are good and some of them are bad.
“Cinema is a very important medium for capturing our history as a race and as a nation. If you look at other countries, they have all managed to capture the soul of every generation. The Irish are newcomers to cinema and there’s a struggle to establish a signature in Irish cinema.”
Was its personal nature the reason why he felt he was the best man to portray Jack McCarthy? Actually, the decision was more practical: “It was an economical decision. It is the second feature film that I’ve done that I’ve acted in. The first one, I had written that role for someone else and they dropped out at the 11th hour. If I had a choice between just making the movie in comfortable circumstances or making a movie and acting and the whole lot, I would prefer just to direct a movie. Economically it made sense. It was a difficult movie to make in two countries. It was very, very, very tough.”
For the full interview, pick up this week’s Irish World (November 17)