St Patrick’s Band
The Galway Film Centre presented ID Film Screening 2013 – a series of 4 short documentaries St Patrick’s Band, Little Cinema, Ahascragh Development Association and MADRA. Cathy Butler was there to check out the local stories with a universal resonance.
For a filmmaking scheme that revolves around the theme of identity, it was fitting that this years Galway Film Centre ID Films screening took place on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon – that kind of inclement weather so ingrained in Galway’s identity. The ID Films scheme has been giving a voice to local communities and local discourse for the past thirteen years, a project implemented and facilitated by the Galway Film Centre. The scheme has something of a dual function; it gives local communities the opportunity to make a documentary and also educates the participants in the basics elements of filmmaking, from camera to sound. The end result is stories that may otherwise not have been told, local stories that often have a universal resonance.
There was four documentaries screened at The Town Hall Theatre last weekend, the first of which examined St Patrick’s Band, a brass band that has been part of Galway life since the end of the nineteenth century. The documentary looked at the history of the band from its inception in the 1890s, to its decline in the 1980’s due to emigration, and its current revival. The film looked at how music can bring people together, as husbands and wives met at band practice, then had children to whom they passed on their musical tradition. Despite it being a very local piece, the potential for music to bring together the many strands of community is something that could be applied anywhere.
The next documentary looked at the Ahascragh Development Group, a local community association based in Ahascragh, a village in east Galway. The piece shows how small towns within driving distance of urban centres can defy the modern trend of becoming commuter towns, devoid of atmosphere. As more people in rural Ireland leave small towns for nearby cities, this film shows how a local population can come together to keep their community thriving.
Following on from this was a documentary surrounding the work of MADRA, a dog rescue home based in Connemara. This proved possibly the most emotionally impactful piece of the afternoon, showing the plight of abandoned dogs and the devotion of those who dedicate their lives to making the dogs lives better. A particularly affecting and topical scene sees a woman emigrating to Australia who has to give up her two dogs as arrangements for their new home fell through. Also quite poignant is the extent to which the founders of MADRA have had to harden themselves to the cruelty and neglect that they face as part of their work, how they might seem ‘cold’ in relation to their work but it is in actual fact self-preservation. The film brought to light the often overlooked importance of animals in our lives, and how the decisions we make can affect them more than we may know.
The final documentary took a bit of a meta turn, being a film about cinema, in this case The Little Cinema Galway. A monthly short film screening showcasing locally produced films, The Little Cinema was founded three years ago in response to a lack of screening opportunities for local filmmakers. Its core approach is to cater to all levels of filmmaking, from amateur to professional, offering an outlet to student filmmakers whose work may not have the polished production values to make it into festivals, and also to more accomplished filmmakers who are in need of an audience also. It brings filmmaking back to that core purpose; to be seen by an audience. The film shows how what started as a small get together by some film students became an important part of Galway’s cultural scene in its own right.
While the scope of cinema is far reaching and the possibilities endless, films such as these and the scheme that allows them to be made show the importance of examining the lives and stories that can be found close at hand. As life becomes more global, it is good to celebrate the small unique elements of places and the people that are found there. At the same time, these films examine subjects of one small, windswept and rainy corner of the world, but the same challenges and triumphs experienced in this place can be found manifested in other places and in other ways worldwide. It is small scale cinema with a large scale resonance.
The ID Film Screening 2013 took place on Sunday, 17th November at 3pm in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway City.
More information on the ID films and previous years’ documentaries can be found at www.galwayfilmcentre.ie/id-films