IFI Ireland on Sunday Interview: Treasa O’Brien, co-director of ’Eat Your Children’

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Eat Your Children is an essay documentary that explores Ireland’s so-called acceptance of debt and austerity. Filmmakers Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary, two economic emigrants, return to Ireland to explore what seemed to be Irish people’s stoicism in accepting austerity and the country’s climate of complacency in the face of the nation’s current economic position.

Treasa O’Brien explains how the idea for the film came about 4 years ago “after my good friend Mary Jane O’Leary showed me a video online of Greeks protesting in Athens. They were chanting: ‘We are not Irish! We will resist!’ Mary Jane had just finished a year studying politics in Barcelona and was working for a European think tank. I had just finished a Masters in Film in London. Mary Jane dared me to make a film about why the Irish were not resisting. I said let’s do it together, and the rest is history. As we started to make the film, we realised the rest is history. Irish history is full of rebels and resistances, so why are we now so acquiescent and accepting?”

The film molds its essay in the form of a road-trip around the country, which, according to Treasa, was a way “to structure the film and also to involve the audience – you’re coming with us! We hope the structure allows the audience to discover with us, and also to keep asking questions and draw their own conclusions rather than ‘experts’ just telling them how it is. We both love the essay form as it’s a chance to explore a topic intellectually as well as emotionally, and it also gives room for a self-reflexive kind of authorship.”

Travelling around Ireland, Treasa and Mary meet Irish people on the streets, at protests, and seek answers from sociologists, politicians, historians, economists and activists on the nature of protest in Ireland. As a result, a lot of time was spent in the edit room to whittle the film down to the 78-minute final cut. “We shot over 40 long form interviews, less than 10 of which are excerpted in the film. The volume of interviews slowed down the editing process as we became attached to so many of the points made and wanted to cover everything – at one stage we were trying to make the short history of everything that ever happened in Ireland. So we had to get really ruthless in cutting the interviews down. We transcribed them all with some help and they have become an invaluable research and reference tool for us to have structured the film and informed our own thinking on the subject.”

I asked Treasa was there one thing that surprised herself and Mary the most on her journey around Ireland. “The Right2Water movement,” she replies. “We are really heartened to see this movement grow over the last few months. It seems to be bringing a lot of various groups and kinds of people together in solidarity, and of course it’s bigger than water. Water, our life force, is bringing people together against austerity, debt, and neoliberal privatisation and inequality. However, as inspiring and hopeful as it is, the vast majority of Irish people are still not protesting, even if they might support the Right2 Water movement from their armchairs. We also see the Irish media discrediting the protests and calling them violent. With all its globalisation and high media readership, Irish politics and media can still be very conservative.”

Looking at Ireland today Treasa thinks there is “a chasm between our conservative politicians and the real will of the majority of Irish people. Or at least I hope there is! I am home in Ireland now for the next few months and I will be here to vote yes for the marriage equality referendum. It is an important temperature gauge of how conservative or not the Irish really are – I wish we didn’t have to spend time fighting for things that seem so uncontroversial and obvious (to me, at least) as basic human rights such as the right to decisions over one’s own reproduction, the right to an equal marriage and the right to water.

“We have to think in a joined up and intersectional way – marriage equality, reproductive rights and racism are seen as identity politics, while labour rights and class struggle are left to the left. But, for example, reproductive rights affect poor people more than rich people, as the latter can travel more easily. We need that more intersectional approach which joins up movements and fights for something together as well as all the individual struggles.”

 

Eat Your Children screens on Sunday, 12th April 2015 at 13.00 at the IFI as part of its Ireland on Sunday monthly showcase for new Irish film.

Co-Directors Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

Tickets for Eat Your Children are available now from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie

 

 

 

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Eat Your Children – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

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Alisande Healy Orme looks at the nature of Irish protest in Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary’s documentary Eat Your Children, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

Taking its name from Jonathan Swift’s 1729 satirical essay A Modest Proposal – in which the author suggested that the impoverished Irish population sell their young as a foodstuff to the wealthy as a way to alleviate the dire economic conditions of the time – ex-patriot Irish women Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary’s documentary Eat Your Children examines whether Ireland today is too inactive when it comes to political protest.

 

The reputation of the Irish abroad is that of the “fighting Irish” – one of a people who have never been afraid of protest and taking up arms when necessary. Here, O’Brien and O’Leary ask why the nation has not done so in the face of austerity measures that will cripple at least the next two generations to come. Unsurprisingly, though interesting, the tightly-budgeted film is not the most cheerful to watch.

 

Taking the form of a road-trip around the country, Eat Your Children has its makers meet with activists, economists, sociologists and members of the public who outline Ireland’s history of protest and how, in spite of it, the country today can appear apathetic or even complacent in the face of constant constraints and demands put upon it by politicians from across Europe.

 

Interviews with members of the public reveal a state of indifference that hinges on a two-pronged, thoroughly depressing consensus: they feel that any protest would make little to no difference anyway, and are planning to take another route that has long-served the impoverished of this country well – emigration in order to seek work.

 

Granted, there’s nothing revelatory in these disclosures (they’re certainly nothing you haven’t heard down the pub) but these sad facts of modern Irish identity are only rendered more strongly when shown alongside historical footage and accounts of how direct action benefitted citizens of this country in the past. It’s to be hoped that when it comes to future protests the filmmakers prediction that “this is not the end” holds true.

 

Eat Your Children screened on Sunday, 22nd March 2015 at the Screen Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

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Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film 2015

One of our favourite times of the year is upon us once more with the return of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Running from 19 – 29 March 2015, the 13th edition of the festival delivers another diverse and exciting programme of films from across the world. And, as always, amongst this year’s programme is a fantastic line-up of Irish films, which we’ve gathered below for your convenience, beginning with the festival’s opening film The Price Of Desire, Mary McGuckian’s beautiful depiction of Irish designer Eileen Gray.

Get booking and get watching.

 

 

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The Price Of Desire (Mary McGuckian)

Thursday, 19th March 2015

8:15PM

Savoy

Mary McGuckian’s The Price Of Desire,  about Irish designer and architecture pioneer Eileen Gray, opens this year’s festival. Starring Orla Brady, Vincent Perez and Francesco Scianna, the Irish-Belgian co-production is the controversial story of how Eileen Gray’s contribution to 20th century architecture was almost entirely effaced from history.

Mary McGuckian, Orla Brady, and Vincent Perez will attend the screening.

 

 

 

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Coming Home (Viko Nikci)

Saturday, 21st March 2015

4:00PM

Light House Cinema

Angel Cordero was charged with attempted murder following a stabbing in The Bronx . Despite the evidence, Angel was convicted and served thirteen years in prison. Seven years later, Dario Rodriguez confessed to the crime. We follow Angel as he is released into a new age of social communication and eventually confronts the man who took away his freedom. But he soon realizes that facing Dario is not his greatest challenge. Angel discovers that the most important thing taken away from him was the relationship with his daughter. At its heart, this is a story about a father’s journey to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

 

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From the Dark (Conor McMahon)

Light House Cinema

Saturday, 21st March 2015

8:30PM

From the Dark centres on a young couple on a road trip through the Irish countryside who encounter an ancient force of evil.

Filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

Reviewed here

 

 

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Eat Your Children (Treasa O’Brien, Mary Jane O’Leary)

Sunday, 22nd March 2015

2:00PM

Screen Cinema

Eat Your Children is a road-trip quest by two friends who emigrated from Ireland during the financial crash of 2008 and who have now returned to probe Ireland’s so-called acceptance of debt and austerity.

The film uses formal observational footage, voxpop, archive material and a visual-essay style to create a rich and accessible tapestry of audiovisual material. It immerses the viewer into world of the protagonist-film-makers – two Irish women living and working in London and Barcelona who return home to find themselves uncovering the modern incarnations of Irish identity, post-colonialism, nationalism, globalization and resistance.

Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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The Great Wall (Tadhg O’Sullivan )

Monday, 23rd March 2015

6:00PM

IFI

Filmmaker’s statement: ‘The Great Wall has been completed at its most southerly point.’ So begins Kafka’s short story ‘At the Building of the Great Wall of China’, and so, at Europe’s heavily militarised south-eastern frontier, begins this film.

In the shadow of its own narratives of freedom, Europe has been quietly building its own great wall. Like its famous Chinese precursor, this wall has been piecemeal in construction, diverse in form and dubious in utility. Gradually cohering across the continent, this system of enclosure and exclusion is urged upon a populace seemingly willing to accept its necessity and to contribute to its building.

From Europe’s edges, The Great Wall moves across various unidentified fortified landscapes, pausing with those whose lives are framed by borders and walls. Moving inward toward the seat of power, the film holds the European project up to a dazzling cinematic light, refracted through Kafka’s mysterious text, ultimately questioning the nature of power within Europe and beyond.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

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Talking to My Father (Sé Merry Doyle)

Tuesday, 24th March 2015

6:00PM

IFI

Talking to my Father features two voices from two eras each concerned with how we as a nation understand the architecture that surrounds our lives. Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early sixties and one of its most celebrated and influential figures was Robin Walker. Robin studied under le Corbusier in Paris as a young graduate and later worked alongside Mies van der Rohe in Chicago. His return to Ireland in 1958 coincided with the emergence of an aspiring modern nation recovering from years of stagnation and emigration. Robin Walker became a key agent in this nation-building process.

A quarter of a century after his premature death, Simon addresses his father again and explores the legacy of his life’s work.

Book tickets here

Reviewed here

 

 

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Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann)

Tuesday, 24th March 2015

6:15PM

Cineworld

Over the course of a midsummer night in Fermanagh in 1890, an unsettled daughter of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy encourages her father’s valet to seduce her. A co-production from Norway/UK/Ireland/France, Miss Julie stars Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell.

Book tickets here

 

 

 

 

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All About Eva (Ferdia Mac Anna)

Wednesday, 25th March 2015

6:00PM

Light House Cinema

All About Eva is an old-school thriller about a young woman seeking revenge upon a wealthy racing magnate whom she blames for destroying her family.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

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After the Dance (Daisy Asquith)

Thursday, 26th March 2015

8:00PM

Light House Cinema

Filmmaker Daisy Asquith tells the very personal story of her mother’s conception after a dance in the 1940s on the remote west coast of Ireland. Her grandmother, compelled to run away to have her baby in secret, handed the child over to ‘the nuns’. Daisy’s mum was eventually adopted by English Catholics from Stoke on Trent. Her grandmother returned to Ireland and told no-one. The father remained a mystery for another 60 years. Until Daisy and her mum decided it was time to find out who he was. Their desperate need to know takes them on a fascinating and moving adventure in social and sexual morality and the fear and shame that Catholicism has wrought on the Irish psyche for centuries, and connecting them with a brand new family living an extraordinarily different life.

Daisy Asquith will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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Dare to be Wild (Vivienne De Courcy)

Thursday, 26th March 2015

8:30PM

Light House Cinema

Dare to be Wild is the story of one woman who sowed the seed of change… It tells the extraordinary and inspiriting true story of Irishwoman Mary Reynold’s journey from rank outsider to winner of a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. Mary grew up with a strong affinity to the environment and a belief that somehow it was her destiny to use her talent as a designer to put environmental issues centre stage. Wild follows her journey from naive and impressionable ingenue to a impassioned and pioneering designer.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

 

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Glassland (Gerard Barrett)

Friday,  27th March 2015

6:30PM

Light House Cinema

In in a desperate bid to save his mother (Toni Colette) from addiction and unite his broken family, a young taxi driver (Jack Reynor) on the fringes of the criminal underworld is forced to take a job which will see him pushed further into its underbelly. But will John be prepared to act when the time comes knowing that whatever he decides to do, his and his family’s lives will be changed forever.

Gerard Barrett and Jack Reynor will attend the screening.

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Ten Years In The Sun (Rouzbeh Rashidi)

Friday, 27th March 2015

8:00PM

Light House Cinema

An assortment of obscure private obsessions, conspiracies and perversions flicker on the verge of inoherence against the context of vast cosmic disaster in Rouzbeh Rashidi’s boldest film to date. This sensory onslaught combines a homage to the subversive humour of Luis Buñuel and Joao Cesar Monteiro with the visionary scope of a demented science fiction epic.

Book tickets here

 

 

 

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Tana Bana (Pat Murphy)

Friday, 27th March 2015

8:40PM

Light House Cinema

Varanasi is the ancient city on the Ganges where Hindu pilgrims come to bathe at dawn and where cremation fires burn along the sacred river long after night has fallen. The city is also famous for the Moslem silk weavers whose ancestors traveled along the Silk Road and whose history is interwoven with that of their Hindu neighbours.

Loosely structured as a day in the life of Varanasi, this unique, intimate documentary explores how the Moslem community of weavers respond to huge economic shifts in their lives and shows the difficulties they face in passing on traditional weaving skills to their children. The film also gives voice to the changing roles of women within this enclosed world.

Pat Murphy will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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Let Us Prey (Brian O’Malley)

Friday, 27th March 2015

10:40PM

Light House Cinema

Rachel, a rookie cop, is about to begin her first nightshift in a neglected police station in a Scottish, backwater town. The kind of place where the tide has gone out and stranded a motley bunch of the aimless, the forgotten, the bitter-and-twisted who all think that, really, they deserve to be somewhere else. They all think they’re there by accident and that, with a little luck, life is going to get better. Wrong, on both counts. Six is about to arrive – and All Hell Will Break Loose!

Book tickets here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2fnLntATUo

 

 

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Yximalloo (Tadhg O’Sullivan, Feargal Ward)

Saturday, 28th March 2015

2:00PM

Light House Cinema

Naofumi ‘Yximalloo’ Ishimaru is an obscure cult musician, living and working on the fringes of music and society for all of his storied life. A self-taught, self-styled pioneer with a vast back-catalogue, Naofumi currently lives with his disabled civil partner in an anonymous, unfriendly cul-de-sac in a Dublin suburb. Torn between his loyalties to Gerry, his yearning for Japanese society and the dream of making his international music career pay, Naofumi endures a difficult year. Moving between Dublin and Tokyo, this touching portrait opens up the world of a deeply individual character to explore universal ideas of life, love and loneliness.

 

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Wheel Of Fortune: The Story And Legacy Of The Fairview Lion Tamer (Joe Lee)

Saturday, 28th March 2015

3:30PM

Light House Cinema

 

Filmmaker’s statement: Wheel of Fortune is a documentary feature film about Bill Stephens, an ordinary young man in 1950s Ireland with an extraordinary ambition: to become an international circus star. It is also a love story about Bill and his young and beautiful wife May, from East Wall. Their double act, Jungle Capers, Bill Stephens and Lovely Partner, was a series of death-defying feats with a troupe of lions and dogs designed to thrill audiences in the  circus tent and on the stage. With this act they hoped to break free from the suffocating reality of Irish life, but things went terribly wrong when, in November 1951, one of their animals escaped. The story gained national and international attention at the time, but it is only now – after 60 years of silence – that two families and a community have come together to tell the story in full.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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The Canal (Ivan Kavanagh)

Saturday, 28th March 2015

8:30PM

Light House Cinema

Set in rural Ireland, The Canal stars Rupert Evans as David, a film archivist with a morbid fascination for old films in which the subjects have since died. Right after learning that his wife may be cheating on him, she mysteriously disappears at the same time that his assistant Claire finds an old reel of film that points to a murder that took place in his house a hundred years ago. David starts to suspect her disappearance may involve some form of the supernatural but he also quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Rupert Evans will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

You can check the full programme here

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