Fairfield University's Fall "Irish in Film" series begins September 16


"The Irish in Film," the popular movie series now beginning its third year, opens at Fairfield University September 16 with four compelling films, each offering a different perspective of Ireland. The Irish Studies Committee at Fairfield University sponsors the series and it is part of Fairfield University's Arts & Minds season of cultural and intellectual offerings.

As in the past, a Fairfield University professor who teaches in the Irish Studies Minor presents each film and provides a context within which to view these choice cinematic selections. The films will be shown in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Fairfield University students and the community are welcome to enjoy this free event. Light refreshments will be served.

Sharing the introduction of the first film, "Veronica Guerin" (2003), is veteran journalist Dr. James Simon, formerly an editor with the Associated Press for ten years. Simon is chair of the English department and also teaches journalism. Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director of Irish Studies who teaches in the politics department, joins him in his introduction.

Directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role, the film is based on the true story of Dublin award-winning reporter Guerin, who investigated the blatant drug trafficking in her city for 18 months. Set in the mid-1990's gritty Dublin before the roar of the Celtic tiger, Guerin pursues and exposes the drug lord John Gilligan, played by Gerard McSorley, who brutally attacks her, then later offers her a bribe not to press charges. Guerin, a happily married mother of a young son, is not simply obsessed with getting the story she is an idealist who is compelled to make Dublin a safer place for children. Following the screening, Simon and Cassidy will field questions from the audience.

The second film, "The Crying Game" (1992), will be shown on September 30. Directed by Neil Jordan, the film deals with sexual identity, national identity, and the IRA's efforts to get the British out of Northern Ireland. Stephen Rea plays Fergus, an IRA volunteer who rejects the excessive violence associated with the cause, along with the overtly masculine world of the paramilitary organization.

In contrast, Miranda Richardson as Jude, an IRA operative and one-time lover of Fergus, has no problem inflicting pain and suffering on the enemy. Forest Whitaker's Jody, the bisexual black Caribbean British soldier stationed in the North, represents both national and sexual ambiguity. Jaye Davidson, in the role of Dil, is the love object of both Jody and Fergus. Jordan's psychological thriller explores the controversial boundaries in love and war. Dr. Robert Epstein, associate professor of English, will introduce the film.

Next, on October 14, is "High Spirits" (1988), a comedy directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Peter O'Toole, as Peter Plunkett, the broke proprietor of Castle Plunkett that he runs as a hotel catering to American tourists. In an effort to encourage business, he claims the castle is haunted and gulls the Americans with the staged shenanigans of his staff. The fake ghosts turn out to be real ones, a bride and groom, played by Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson, who have been dead for 200 years, but are, in fact, brimming with life. The meeting of the creatures from the two worlds creates confusion, some unlikely relationships, and plenty of high-spirited Irish humor. Dr. William Abbott, associate professor of history, will present the film.

The series closes on October 29 with "True Confessions" (1981). Directed by Ulu Grosbard, it stars Robert DeNiro, as a Catholic Monsignor, and Robert Duvall, as his brother, a cop. Set in Los Angeles in 1948, the story addresses the ethical conflicts the brothers encounter in their respective professions.

The plot hinges on a corrupt developer named Amsterdam, played by Charles Durning. This former pimp has become rich through the lucrative building contracts he receives from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, thanks to the Monsignor and with the blessing of the Cardinal. Amsterdam is named "Catholic Layman of the Year," an honor that angers the cop, who is privy to the developer's checkered past. When a young woman is murdered, Duvall's investigation leads him to Amsterdam, who may or may not be guilty. Burgess Meredith plays a dedicated priest who is not rewarded for his piety. Director of American Studies Dr. Leo O'Connor will introduce the film.

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

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

Posted on August 5, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 24