Review of Irish Film @ DIFF 2019: Floating Structures

June Butler takes a look at Fearghal Ward and Adrian Duncan’s Reel Art film, Floating Structures, which shines a light on buildings and structures that seem as though they have emerged from another world. 

Floating Structures is an ambient architectural feast that focuses mainly on edifices where glass is considered an essential part of the project.

It follows a narrator as he travels to investigate the creation of German civil engineer Heinrich Gottfried Gerber. Gerber conceived of, and designed cantilevered bridges over the Regnitz at Bamberg and traversing the Main at Hassfurt. Elements of both conduits were then ably used by Peter Rice, an Irish structural engineer in the construction of a number of notable landmarks.

The audience is brought through the assembly of such buildings as the Pompidou Centre (1971), and La Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Villette (1986) – both in Paris. However Rice can also lay claim to working on construction of the Sydney Opera House roof (1957), the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield (1967), and Pabellón del Futuro, Seville, Spain (1992). Rice integrated Gerber’s structural concepts and incorporated them seamlessly into the buildings he worked on. La Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie featured three greenhouse spaces in the façade which were deemed to be the first glass walls positioned without a frame or supporting fins. Footage from the time of assembly shows Peter Rice putting the glass in place.

What follows is a beautiful journey into the marvels of creation narrated easily in lay-person’s terms – a passage to unfettered imagination. The documentary encourages an interest in maps of the mind and lends visual meaning to the concrete landscape surrounding city dwellers. Both the old and the new are investigated – parallels are drawn between Chartres Cathedral and more modern buildings, concluding that while materials used on recent constructs differ, the overall supposition is that the law of physics remains the same.

Floating Structures is a quiet and unassuming foray into celebrating the genius of Peter Rice and well worth viewing.


Floating Structures screened on 25th February 2019 as part of the Dublin International Film Festival (20th February – 3rd March). 




‘Memory Room’ Premieres at IDFA


A new short film by Feargal Ward and Adrian Duncan will have its world premiere next month at the IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam).

Memory Room (2018, 17 mins, Arts Council) was shot in the Arctic Circle and retraces the steps of an Irish forester sent to Finland in 1946 to secure poles for the rural electrification project being undertaken back home. The film has been selected for the Paradocs section of IDFA 2018 – a programme that showcases what is happening beyond the frame of traditional documentary filmmaking, on the borders between film and art, truth and fiction, and narrative and design.


The film was written and directed by Adrian Duncan (Bungaló Bliss) and Feargal Ward (Yximalloo, The Lonely Battle Of Thomas Reid). The actor Barry Ward (Jimmy’s Hall, Britannia, Save Me, Maze) was cast in the role of the forester. The film was photographed by Feargal Ward and Jonathan Sammon, with the score created by Declan Synnott. The film was funded in 2016 by the Arts Council as part of their Project Award strand. A version of the film and accompanying sculptural installation, which was titled The Soil Became Scandinavian, was selected for Ireland’s biennial, EVA International 2018 – curated by Inti Guerrero.




Co-directors Feargal Ward and Adrian Duncan said, “It’s great to have the opportunity to bring this type of film to IDFA. Our film exists at the outer fringes of what might be called the ‘traditional documentary form’, which is of course an area we are very excited to work in. Making unconventional works that challenge the medium are incredibly hard to get funded. We can’t thank the Arts Council enough for making this possible – we are indebted to them for giving us the freedom and confidence to make this happen.”


Feargal Ward’s most recent feature documentary The Lonely Battle Of Thomas Reid will be released in cinemas in Ireland from October 19th before being released in the UK in November. It will screen on German TV (NDR) this year and Finnish TV in 2019.