Fairfield University announces "The Irish in Film" series for October



"The Irish in Film," the free movie series sponsored by the Irish Studies Committee at Fairfield University, opens on Wednesday, October 5 with four diverse films. Now in its fourth year, the series is part of Fairfield University's "Arts & Minds" season of cultural and intellectual programs.

The films will be shown in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The films will be introduced by professors who teach in the Irish Studies program. Fairfield University welcomes students as well as the greater community to this free event. Light refreshments will be served.

Image: The PipeThe 2010 documentary, "The Pipe," opens the series on October 5. It tells the story of the people of County Mayo, Ireland, and their attempt to prevent Shell, a multinational oil company, from laying an underwater and underground pipe from a gas field off the western coast to an inland refinery in the small town of Ballinaboy. The pipe would make it possible for Shell to distribute the gas all across Ireland. Protestors see the Shell plan as a looming environmental disaster that will cause economic hardship to the local fishing and farming communities. Over several years of demonstrations, the protestors become increasingly desperate, while others in the community agree to accept Shell's financial compensation. Shell has refused to tell its side of the story and to this day the battle has not been resolved. "The Pipe" was shown at the London Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. The presenter for this film is to be announced.

On October 12, "The Eclipse" (2009), hailed at the Tribeca Film Festival and directed by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, will be shown. Written by McPherson and Billy Roche, the film is based on "Tales from Rainwater Pond," by Roche, and stars Ciarán Hinds as Michael Farr, a widowed teacher who is raising his two young children in County Cork. Ever since his wife's death two years earlier, Michael is having violent visions. When he volunteers as a driver at a literary festival, he meets Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), who writes books on ghosts and paranormal occurrences. Michael seeks her opinion of his own haunting experiences and a romantic relationship develops that is threatened by Lena's former lover, a bombastic best-selling American author, Nicholas Holden, played by Aidan Quinn. Dr. Robert Epstein, associate professor of English, will introduce the film.

Image: Last SeptemberThe third film on October 19, "The Last September" (1998), is based on the 1929 novel by Elizabeth Bowen, the Anglo-Irish writer who depicts the fatal events of The Troubles in 1920. Directed by Deborah Warner with the screenplay by Irish novelist John Banville, the film is a coming of age story of Lois (Keeley Hawes), niece of the Naylors, Sir Richard (Michael Gambon) and Lady Myra (Maggie Smith), who own a vast estate in County Cork and are members of the powerful Ascendancy ruling class. Lois is courted by Gerald (David Tennant), a young British officer whose garrison is protecting the Naylors against the IRA. At the same time, she is secretly drawn to her former childhood friend Peter Connolly (Gary Lydon), a brutal gunman hiding out on the estate. To add to Lois's confusion, she is influenced by Marda Norton (Fiona Shaw), a sophisticated, somewhat jaded houseguest who eventually rescues Lois from the fate awaiting the isolated, doomed, and, as the saying goes, "more Irish than the Irish" Anglo-Irish Naylors. The film will be introduced by Dr. Nels Pearson, assistant professor of English who teaches Irish Literature and was recently named director of the Program in Irish Studies.

Image: Irish EscapeThe final film in the series on October 26 is "Secrets of the Dead: Irish Escape" (2009), a PBS documentary on the Irish political prisoners, The Fremantle Six, and their improbable escape from Fremantle Prison in Western Australia. The six men were Irish-born British soldiers and Fenians, a secret revolutionary group committed to violently overthrowing British rule in Ireland. They were arrested in 1866, convicted of treason, and sent for life to Fremantle, Australia, described in the film as "the most notorious jail in the British Empire." One of the six, James Wilson, writes to John Devoy, the prisoners' civilian leader, who was allowed to exile to America where he was working as a journalist for the New York Herald. Devoy responds to Wilson's appeal by raising money from Americans sympathetic to the cause of Irish independence and devising an escape plan. This involves the recruitment of Captain George Smith Anthony of New Bedford, Mass., and his whaling ship, "Catalpa." In 1874, Anthony sails to Australia and, in an attempt to rescue the prisoners, engages in a sea battle with the "HMS Georgette." The suspenseful and realistic reenactment of the drama is directed and produced by Lisa Horney and narrated by Liev Schreibek. Dr. William Abbott, associate professor of history, will present the film and field questions from the audience afterwards.

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

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 13, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 31