Fairfield University's Spring Irish Film Series Begins March 18

Fairfield University presents what is quickly becoming a tradition - "The Irish in Film," a free Wednesday evening series of four diverse films sponsored by the Irish Studies Committee. A different Fairfield University professor who teaches in the Irish Studies minor introduces each film and the screenings will be held in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library's Multimedia Room at 7:00 p.m. Fairfield University students and the community are welcome.

The Spring 2009 Irish film series begins on Wednesday, March 18 with "Bloody Sunday" (2002), written and directed by Paul Greengrass. The film is a powerful interpretation of the 1972 Civil Rights March in Derry, Northern Ireland. The march, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King's peaceful march on Washington, D.C., erupted into violence when the British soldiers opened fire on 15,000 civilian marchers resulting in twelve deaths. The film focuses on the single day of the march and features strong performances by James Nesbitt as Ivan Cooper, a Protestant member of Parliament and the organizer of the march; Tim Pigott-Smith as the British Major General Ford; Nicholas Farrell in the role of the British Brigadier Maclellan; and Declan Duddy as Gerry Donaghy, a young IRA member. The film won an audience award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director of Irish Studies, who teaches "Northern Ireland: War and Peace," will introduce the film.

Next, on April 1 is "How Many Miles to Babylon?" (1978), directed by Moira Armstrong. The film is based on a novel by Irish writer Jennifer Johnson and tells the story of two childhood friends, Alexander, a Protestant heir to an Anglo-Irish estate, and Jeremiah, the poor son of a Catholic tenant on the estate. Both men join the army in WWI where they experience the harshness of the British class system and the brutality of the officers towards their own soldiers in the name of discipline. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a moving performance as Alexander and Christopher Fairbank portrays his loyal friend. In addition to the fine acting, the film offers some beautifully romantic shots of the Irish countryside. Dr. William Abbott, associate professor of History, will present the film.

The third in the series, on April 15, is director Martin Ritt's "The Molly Maguires" (1970). Based on the Irish-Americans' struggle for better wages and working conditions in the Pennsylvania coal mines, the social drama details how "The Molly Maguires," a secret group of Catholic emigrants, organized in 1862, sabotaged the mines and staged violent acts in their efforts to force the owners to address the workers' grievances. In response, the mine owners hired detectives to infiltrate the Mollies and bring them to justice. Richard Harris plays McParlan, an Irish detective, who joins the Mollies, convincing their leader, Jack Kehoe, played by Sean Connery, that he is one of them. The viewer is kept in suspense up until the end as to whose side McParlan is actually on. Dr. Don Greenberg, associate professor of Politics, will introduce the film.

On April 29, the final film in the spring series will be shown. "The Dead" (1987), directed by John Huston, is based on the final story of the same title in James Joyce's "Dubliners." The award-winning film was Huston's final film. His son, Tony wrote the Academy Award-nominated screenplay and his daughter Anjelica stars as Gretta. An annual party is given by Gabriel Conroy's aunts, Kate and Julia, on the feast of the Epiphany, during which the Dubliners – Joyce's living dead – dance, drink, dine, talk, tell jokes, recite poetry, argue and sing. Donal McCann's Gabriel, a university professor, tells his wife Gretta that he is not interested in joining a group for a summer holiday in the West of Ireland, where she is from, but intends to take his usual European holiday. At the party's end, Gabriel and Gretta spend the night in a Dublin hotel, where she tells him a story about a boy in Galway who died for her. The result is Gabriel's epiphany, perhaps Joyce's most famous piece of writing. Professor Marion White, lecturer of English, will introduce the film.

For more information, please contact Marion White, Irish Studies Committee, at (203) 254-4000, ext 3021, or by e-mail at mwhite@mail.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 25, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 225

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