By David Hennessy
Four of Ireland’s greatest female directors are coming to London for screenings and discussions at Hammersmith’s Irish Cultural Centre’s Irish Women in Film Festival.
The three day celebration of Ireland’s leading female filmmakers will include Lelia Doolan’s Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey, a newly restored print of Pat Murphy’s Anne Devlin, Margo Harkin’s two films Hush a Bye Baby and 12 Days in July, and Aisling Walsh’s Song for A Raggy Boy.
As well as introducing their own films, the four filmmakers will take part in a panel discussion entitled, ‘Women in film in a changing Ireland’.
Lelia Doolan was the first female artistic director of the Abbey Theatre and co-founded the Galway Film Fleadh. In 1993, she was appointed to head the Irish Film Board. At the age of 75, she produced and directed her first film, Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey which was based on the life of the radical Derry politician Bernadette Devlin. The film received critical success internationally.
Margo Harkin received international acclaim as director on her first drama Hush-a-Bye Baby. The drama focused on teen pregnancy in Northern Ireland inspired by the 1983 abortion Referendum and the scandal of Anne Lovett, a 15-year- old schoolgirl who died giving birth in Ireland.
When asked why she kept returning to her film Bloody Sunday (she made three different versions), she answered: “Why? Because I was there on the day and I remember the complete shock and horror of it and because the aftermath of it taught me a huge lesson – that those who control the media control the truth”.
Pat Murphy’s first feature film Maeve in 1981 has been described as, “Ireland’s first bona-fide feminist film” containing lines such as, “Men’s relationship to women is just like England’s relationship to Ireland. You’re in possession of us. You occupy us like an army.”
Aisling Walsh is known for her unflinching portrayals of Catholic Ireland. Her 2003 film Song for a Raggy Boy, starring Aidan Quinn, told a horrific story of institutional abuse at a time when true church abuse scandals were rocking Ireland.
The festival has been curated by documentary filmmaker Sé Merry Doyle and playwright and theatre director Rosalind Scanlon.
Irish Women in Film runs from 25th-27thOctober at the Irish Cultural Centre, more information at irishculturalcentre.co.uk
Friday October 25th 8pm ‘Song for A Raggy Boy’ followed by a Q&A with director Aisling Walsh.
Saturday October 26th 3.30pm: ‘Hush-a-Bye Baby’ followed by a Q&A with director Margo Harkin
Saturday October 26th 8pm: The Premiere Screening of the restored print of ‘Anne Devlin’ followed by a Q&A with director Pat Murphy
Sunday October 27th 4.00pm ‘12 Days in July’ followed by a Q&A with director Margo Harkin
Sunday October 27th 5pm Panel Discussion; ‘Irish Women in Film, In A Changing Ireland’ featuring film directors Lelia Doolan, Margo Harkin, Pat Murphy and Aisling Walsh.
Sunday October 27th 8pm ‘Bernadette, Notes on A Political Journey’ followed by Q&A with Lelia Doolan.