Born and Reared tells the stories of four men living in Northern Ireland today in the aftermath of a conflict. Told from a contemporary perspective, the film captures, through their stories, the identity of a place and the men who live there. Following the film’s recent sell-out premiere in Galway, Born and Reared screens in Dublin at the IFI as part of their Irish Focus strand.
Filmmakers Henrietta Norton and Dan Dennison spent over a year with everyday men of inner city Belfast whose lives had been defined by conflict. “We wanted to explore ideas around masculinity and male identity in contemporay Belfast,” Henrietta explains. “How do you go from having a position of power, whether it be within an organisation or a belief system or whatever, to going back to being a taxi driver, a joiner or a dad. We wanted to explore those themes from a contemporary perspective.”
Henrietta spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland herself as a child. Her stepmother was the Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam, so she partly grew up in Belfast during the time the Good Friday Agreement was being drawn up. And then in 2013, Henrietta was in Derry working with “an amazing group of men, who had formed an organisation called Men’s Action Network, which they had started because a friend of theirs had committed suicide. They had created this space for men to come and talk about issues that affect them as men. I started thinking that this is something that is not being explored. This is something that is not being talked about – masculinity and identities, post-conflict.” So, for Henrietta, the project was shaped from both a personal and political perspective, as she asked the question, “while there was a political peace agreement drawn up in 1998, was there a human peace in Northern Ireland?”
Through each story we learn what has happened to these men and how the conflict has defined them in the aftermath of the Troubles. In order to achieve this it was vital for the filmmakers to gain the trust of the men they interviewed. Henrietta says, “We didn’t pick up a camera for the first five months that we spent time with those men before we started filming. We filmed the whole film over a year and for the first four or five months we just hung out. We met the families, we met the children, we met the friends and we just spent time together to build up trust and a genuine relationship because, for me, it was about finding the honesty.”
The film comes to Dublin after its premiere at Galway and a private screening earlier this summer. “We’ve had some amazing responses from our audience. The general feedback is that it is incredibly refreshing. We did a private screening in Belfast to a local audience, which was terrifying because it’s their life and their world you’re showing to them – the response was unbelievable. One schoolteacher stood up and said every single teenager in Northern Ireland should see this film. Responses like that are really powerful.”
Born and Reared screens on Tuesday, 19th July 2016 at 18.30 at the IFI as part of Irish Focus, a focus on new Irish film and filmmakers.
Directors Henrietta Norton and Dan Dennison will participate in a post-screening Q&A.
Tickets are available here or from the IFI Box Office or on 01 679 3477