‘Hill Street’ and ‘The Guarantee’ Now Available on Netflix

 Hill Street directed by JJ Rolfe

The Irish skateboarding documentary Hill Street and the banking drama The Guarantee are now available to view on Netflix in Ireland and the UK.

Hill Street looks at the evolution of skateboarding culture in Dublin from the initial driving force ‘Clive’s of Hill Street’, a unique skate shop in the north inner city in the 1980’s, through to Powell Peralta ‘Bones Brigade’ Team historic demo with the legendary Tony Hawk right up to the skateboarding scene today.  The film comprises interviews with key players in both the Irish and global skate community and features rare, never-seen-before footage.


Meanwhile the IFTA-nominated feature The Guarantee recreates the drama surrounding the most significant political decision in modern Irish history; when the Irish government decided to guarantee the entire domestic banking system.  Starring Peter Coonan and Gary Lydon as Anglo Irish Bank Chief Executive David Drumm and Taoiseach Brian Cowen respectively, with David Murray and Morgan C. Jones also starring as Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick, the film charts the origins of that pivotal decision and follows developments through the peak of the boom to the beginning of the bust.

Hill Street and The Guarantee are just the latest Wildcard titles to become available on Netflix in Ireland and the UK joining the award-winning documentary The Summit and feel good quirky comedies Life’s a Breeze starring Pat Shortt and Fionnula Flanagan, Gold starring Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams and James Nesbitt and Standby starring Jessica Paré (Mad Men) and Brian Gleeson on the platform.

The titles above are also available on iTunes and a variety of online platforms and are available to purchase on DVD on Amazon.co.uk and on the Wildcard website.


Interview: JJ Rolfe, director of ‘Hill Street’


Hill Street looks at the evolution of skateboarding culture in Ireland since the late 1980s and features, amongst others, the legendary skater Tony Hawk.

Film Ireland donned its helmet and did some varial kick flips with the film’s director JJ Rolfe.


What was your initial motivation behind making a documentary about the history of skateboarding in Dublin?

It started when I was working as a cinematographer with the producer of the film, Dave Leahy, on a couple of different short films that he was producing about 5 years ago. We talked about his idea for a film about Clive’s skate shop [Clive Rowen, the Dublin ‘Godfather of Skateboarding’] and it stayed with me. I wrote up a treatment and next thing I knew I was at a meeting where I was introduced as the director and it all kicked off.

What interested me was exploring a story about something that was very much counter culture at its origins and watching it become mainstream.
It was also interesting to me to have to employ a DIY approach to the making of the film that mimicked the skateboard movement itself

What was it about skateboarding at that particular time that made it a subculture in Dublin?

It’s something that we talk about a lot in the film. It is best summed up by some of the participants in that Dublin in the 1980s wasn’t a very friendly place for people who deviated from the percieved norm. Skating was undergoing something of a resurgence in the 1980s and so only existed in pockets around Dublin. What made a significant difference was the shop on Hill Street which coalesced the skaters as they found like-minded individuals

Can you tell us about how the film was funded?

At the begining of the project we were very much self financed and working on it in between other projects, which gave the shooting of it a slightly fragmented feel and certainly had Dave [Leahy] pulling his hair out. We completed the film to a 52-minute version that screened at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in 2012 and received a special mention. After that the Irish Film Board approached us with an interest in extending the film to a full cinematic length and offered us funding. That funding was extremely helpful to complete the project to the level that both Dave and I had originally wanted on a practical level but also the feedback from the board was very useful by way of a sounding board for ideas and their experience of the next stages was extremely helpful, they were great throughout.

After an initial cut of the film you then went and shot in LA. What was the reasoning behind that decision?

The visit of Tony Hawk to Dublin had been somewhat a seminal moment in the history of skateboarding in Ireland and it had always been a goal to include his memories of the trip in the final film. The completion funding from the Film Board made all of this possible. I also felt that the original cut of the film lacked a little context in the world scene and the trip to LA also allowed us to focus in on this – in the place that was the birthplace of skateboarding.

The film is made up of a lot of footage of the shop and skateboarding from the 80s and 90s. How did you go about sourcing that and where did the majority of it come from?

We were extremely lucky when we started work on Hill Street that the community accepted us and were really very helpful. There is some great archive in the finished film that is all thanks to those links and the good spirit of the few members of the scene that brought cameras with them and shot what was in front of them keeping them tucked away in shoeboxes for the future. It got to a point where on the day before the final picture lock Dave got a phone call from somebody telling them about an old VHS tape they’d found with footage from outside the shop on Hill Street and we made space for it in the final cut!

How did you get to interview Tony Hawk?

Getting the Tony Hawk interview was a long process but very worthwhile. Tony is one of the world’s most recognizable skaters and, with that, is extremely busy. He still skates but spends most of his time engaged in charity work nowadays and is rarely in the same country for very long, so nailing him down to a specific time and place was tough. Thankfully, on the day of the interview he was good enough to bring us down to his rather large office block where Hawk Enterprises is headquartered and gave up a large part of his day to sit down and talk to us. Having him as part of the film is certainly an honour and really gives it legitimacy on a world stage.

Hill Street opens in select cinemas on 23rd May and will be available to buy worldwide on DVD/VOD through a dedicated website www.hillstreetdocumentary.com and via iTunes from 2nd June.


Report: Galway Film Fleadh 2013



Matt Miccuci looks back over his 7 days following Irish film in the sweltering heat of Galway for the Fleadh’s 25th anniversary.

“We borrowed the weather from Cannes,” was this year’s joke at the Fleadh.

Indeed, this could easily be remembered as the ‘hottest’  edition of the festival on account of the weather alone. It was hot, very hot, and the unventilated Town Hall Theatre often felt like one big oven. Yet, the programme was too stimulating to give into the call of the beach and strange urges to build a sand castle.

Of course, the people who decided to spend the hottest days Galway has possibly ever seen locked in a theatre were widely rewarded. Just like every year since its birth twenty-five years ago, the festival showcased some of the best home-grown productions today which in turn represented the good health and ambition of Irish cinema.

Things kicked off to a crowd pleasing start with Roger Gual’s Tasting Menu, a very charming comedy of errors telling the story of intertwining lives at the closing night of a Catalonian restaurant, regarded as the best restaurant in the world. Its theatrical approach aided by a good pace and great timing recalled the works of great names from Robert Altman to none other than William Shakespeare! Just as impressively, it closed with the introverted and reflective drama The Sea, in which director Stephen Brown skilfully made the task of turning the famous John Banville novel based on memory and regret look easy in a compact production complete with refined visual touches and compellingly withdrawn performances by Ciarán Hinds and Charlotte Rampling.

There were many different stories told and a wide assortment of styles and genres presented, but the recession inevitably came out as the prevailing theme. Two films in particular, though very different, represented it directly.

Lance Daly’s Life’s a Breeze, billed as a feelgood recession comedy, saw the return of the working class comedy à la Ealing Studios of Passport to Pimlico. This film is quite entertaining and commercially appealing – this is also the reason why it will probably be among the most successful films shown at the Fleadh during its domestic cinema run.

Alternatively, Out of Here used a much more direct and though-provoking approach to capture the essence of the everyday urban monotony and frustration of the life of a young Dubliner. Donal Foreman’s film is nothing short of praiseworthy for its passive anger and realist approach, as well as a visual style that is beautiful in its simplicity. Foreman also represented the kind of independent filmmaking that Irish cinema should thrive on for the way in which he brought Out of Here together through crowd-funding but also through determination, passion and a will to go out there and really make it happen.

The influence of the recession in the new Irish films could also be seen by the vulnerability of a lot of the lead characters, particularly the male characters. In fact, many aspects of masculinity were revealed in original ways. An excellent example is found in Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s hypnotic modern noir Mister John with its wonderfully unconventional character study of a man – played by Aiden Gillen in what is hands down one of this year’s most enchanting and haunting performances – whose troubled family life and misery lead him to re-invent himself as his dead brother’s alter ego in Singapore. The film is driven by a unique brand of mystery, with a hypnotic flow and stunning 35mm photography that enrich the experience and take full advantage of the naturally sinister beauty of a humid Singapore.

Similarly, in the documentary Coming Home, Viko Nikci captures the life of Angel Cordero, a man incarcerated for thirteen years for a crime he did not commit and chooses to examine the man rather than the case by focusing on his struggles as he reconnects with the outside world and his estranged daughter. Nikci’s use of narrative filmmaking photography and Angel’s own genuine magnetism as well as a desire to open up to the camera eye made this film very popular and without a doubt the most touching film of this year’s Fleadh. Indeed Nikci’s film was justly rewarded at Galway, picking up the Best Irish Documentary prize at Sunday’s award ceremony.

One could even read a specific viewpoint on masculine stubbornness and how it threatened to end the world in the gripping documentary, Here Was Cuba by John Murray and Emer Reynolds. Muldowney’s beautifully bizarre Love Eternal, on the other hand, is about a necrophiliac – in fact it may well be the sweetest film that could possibly ever be made about necrophilia.

The horror genre was well represented with Rossella de Ventuo’s Irish Italian production House of Shadows, a film which carries many new ideas and a genuine dramatic depth – both things lacking in the vast majority of today’s horror films – as well as an absorbing performance by Fiona Glascott.

My greatest personal regret is that I didn’t get to see the best Irish feature prize by Academy Award nominee Steph Green Run & Jump, though the positive feedback it received will have me rushing to the cinema as soon as it hits the screens. I also regret missing films like Discoverdale and Hill Street. Yet, in the end it didn’t matter that much, as I felt highly rewarded for the time I dedicated to following this year’s festival and highly rewarded by the quality of the many premieres I attended. So, I think it’s fair to congratulate everyone involved on the organising team who was responsible for yet another exciting Fleadh. But maybe let’s get some air conditioning for the Town Hall Theatre for next year, yeah?


Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh preview: Hill Street

hill street

The 25th Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July, 2013)

Hill Street

Friday, 12th July



Cinematographer JJ Rolfe’s directorial debut, Hill Street, is a documentary about the rise of the skateboarding culture in Ireland since the late ’80s, which began with the opening of the ‘Clive’s of Hill Street’ skateshop in North Dublin. With a sold out screening at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, this feature length documentary caught the attention of the Irish Film Board. As a result, this Friday 12th sees a new, extended cut of the film debut at the Galway Film Fleadh.

‘We are delighted to have our film in such a prestigious festival’, producer Dave Leahy told Film Ireland. ‘Importantly for us, the Fleadh gives a chance to showcase Hill Street on an international stage’.

In the late ’80s, Clive Rowen, proprietor of ‘Clive’s of Hill Street’, single-handedly progressed the skate scene through the building of primitive ramps at the shop before graduating to a temporary skate park in the Top Hat Ballroom in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin. The film comprises interviews with key players in both the Irish and global skate community and features rare, never-seen-before footage. Hill Street is a fascinating look at the early stages of the Irish skateboarding scene and is as much a wonderful introduction to a rich subculture as it is an exploration of a sport trying to legitimise itself against the backdrop of 80s Ireland.

This never before seen extended cut includes all new footage, including an interview with legendary Tony Hawk.

Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777 or at www.tht.ie.


JDIFF 2012 Irish Cinema Review: Hill Street, Dublin Skateboarding Documentary with archive footage of Tony Hawk


"Hill Street"

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Irish: Hill Street

Sunday, 19th February, 6:45pm, Cineworld

Director JJ Rolfe and producer Dave Leahy put together the zero budget 46 minute long skateboarding documentary Hill Street in time for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.  Featuring talking heads of well-known characters from the Dublin skateboarding scene plus some great achive footage, including the legendary Tony Hawk, it tells the story of how skateboarding in the city developed over the years.

It is an entertaining and witty account of a subculture, or ‘fad’ as Dublin City Council called it, that I knew little about. There is the Hill Street shop of Clive Rowan, the first professional skateboard shop opened up in a rough-around-the-edges area of Dublin 1.  A shop talked about in mythical terms amongst the children of a pre-internet time not yet old enough to travel there and see it for themselves, although some braved it.

The sense of a community of outsiders, the warmth and humour of those involved comes across in the film and was present at the completely sold-out screening with patrons greeting one another as they entered the auditorium for its world premiere.

The generosity of the community of skateboarders is evident through the impressive collection of archive footage sent into Rolfe and Leahy. In the days before everyone recorded live events on their phones instead of actually watching them, there is a clip of a long-haired Tony Hawk doing a 540 off of a tiny ramp in Dublin and some great everyday footage from both inside and outside Rowan’s shop.

In the Q&A Rolfe and Leahy explained that they had a lot of interest and support from the Irish Film Board, Broadcasters and the BAI, but no money was forthcoming. So they went and made it anyway. One hope they have is that they will get more funding to extend it to 80 minutes as they have a lot more archive footage, but for now they are thankful that Grainne Humphreys and JDIFF allowed them to present this version to a festival audience.

Gordon Gaffney

Click here for Film Ireland‘s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Click here for full details and to book tickets for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival




‘Hill Street’ World Premiere @ Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

"Hill Street"

Independent Irish Skateboarding Documentary Hill Street is to receive its world premiere at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.  The film tells the story of the evolution of skateboarding culture in Ireland from its early roots the 1980s.

The initial driving force behind the scene was a proprietor of a unique skate shop in North Dublin inner city – ‘Clive’s of Hill Street’.  From here Clive Rowen progressed the scene through the building of primitive ramps at the shop before graduating to a temporary skate park in the Top Hat Ballroom in Dun Laoghaire, South Dublin.  Clive even managed to convince a Powell Team, including the legendary Tony Hawk, to visit the park for a now historic demo.

Soon after his continuing efforts resulted in a leg of the European Skate Championships being held in the Point Depot in 1991.  Skaters from Hill Street eventually opened their own full time private skate parks starting with ‘Simons Park’ on Sir John Roberson’s Quay in Dublin. This troubled park soon closed but not before a visit from the then ‘Deathbox’ Team (now Flip Skateboards) including cult skater Tom Penny.

The film follows the rise of skateboarding to the present day and features in depth interviews with Irish Skate forefathers and future hopes including: Clive Rowen, Mike Keane, Rich Gilligan & Keith Walsh and also features never before seen archive footage of icon Tony Hawk in Dun Laoghaire and legend Tom Penny skating a the south quays skate park in Dublin.

The film features a bespoke soundtrack from Dublin native Gareth Averil as ‘Great Lakes Mystery’ and includes tracks by Jogging and Redneck Manifesto.

Check out www.hillstreetdocumentary.com

Hill Street screens at JDIFF on Sunday, 19th February at 18.45 in Cineworld.

Click here to purchase tickets