Review: Talking To My Father

Talking-to-my-Father-9-300x238

DIR: Sé Merry Doyle

 

Architect Robin Walker’s architecture emerged, as T.K Whitaker’s Ireland emerged, an Ireland of growth, growing confidence and a step away from the insular nationalism that defined the preceding years. In this film, Walker’s son Simon explores his relationship with his father through the legacy that his father has left behind. Part of the Scott Tallon Walker architecture firm, which pioneered the modernist architectural style espoused by such twentieth century architects as Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe, Robin Walker’s buildings have both a significant and controversial presence in the Dublin skyline. Notable buildings emanating from the modernist movement include Busáras, RTÉ studios and Walker’s very own Bord Fáilte building by Baggot Street and the Cork Opera House. Through a dialogue with his father, Simon wishes to highlight the importance and the artistic merit of the much maligned modernist moment in architecture and how important it was in creating a sense of modern Ireland.

Sé Merry Doyle’s film aims to emphasis the personal nature of Simon’s quest, that this film is not simply an exploration of Walker’s legacy but Simon’s own re-connection with his deceased father. Throughout the film, Simon rummages through the vast writings and photographs his father has left behind in order to understand the philosophy that lay behind the architecture. Such an intimate approach offers us a brilliant introduction to the principles of architecture and the personal philosophy that lie behind it. The image of place and how architecture, as Simon explains, is the alignment of nature, space and time provides an apt allegory to the very idea of nation building; and this theme of nation building is constantly evoked in Simon’s quest.

Although at times, the film lags over the moments of family intimacy, evoking the boredom of spending too much time looking at another person’s family photos, such moments are short lived. Instead, there are moments where the beauty of the Irish landscape, especially on the Beara Peninsula and the interaction of Walker’s architecture to its environment, really emphasis the importance of socially and environmentally engaged architecture.

Through Simon’s quest then, a very valid and personal message is uncovered from his father, that architecture has a social and political responsibility. Thus, when Simon brings us on his journey to the UCD restaurant on one of the more ambitious projects of 1960s Ireland, the building of Ireland’s largest university, Simon speaks about his father’s political inspiration from the 1968 student protests in Paris. Those familiar with UCD will know the urban legend of Belfield being designed to prevent a repeat of any student provocation. What Simon informs the viewer is that the open-plan design of the restaurant building was his father’s wish to create a space where students’ ideas and conversations flowed freely, reflecting the openness of 1960s thought.

Doyle’s film is filled with such vivid insights into the nature of design and a son’s desire to remind us of the need for good design. Now, as Simon wonders, in post-debt socialisation Ireland, can the importance of design be re-invigorated and exist outside the terminology of finance. In a nation that is now suffocating due to a history of bad planning, constant niggling questions over the land use of buildings in NAMA’s possession and yet another housing crisis, Talking to My Father is a wonderful reminder of a period in Irish history that embraced a positive design approach to the challenges of nation building.

Sean Finnan

90 minutes
Talking to My Father is released 16th October 2015

 

 

Read an interview with Sé Merry Doyle here

 

Share

Competition: Win Tickets to ‘Talking to My Father’ + Q&A @ IFI

Talking Comp

Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early ’60s and one of its most celebrated figures was Robin Walker. Robin studied under Le Corbusier and later worked alongside Mies van der Rohe in Chicago. Upon his return to Ireland he became a key agent in the shaping of the emerging modern nation.

Looking again to Dublin’s streets which he has so faithfully recorded in earlier works (James Gandon, A Life; Alive, Alive Oh!), Sé Merry Doyle follows Simon Walker, a quarter of a century after Robin’s death, as he explores the legacy of his father’s work. The film allows Walker’s buildings to speak for themselves, taking us with Simon in his search for Robin’s architecture of place. (Sunniva O’Flynn).

Talking to My Father is released exclusively at the IFI from Friday, 16th October 2015. Director Sé Merry Doyle will take part in a Q&A after the screening at 18.30 on 16th October.

Thanks to our good friends at the IFI, we have a pair of tickets to give away to Friday’s screening plus Q&A.

To be in with a chance of winning answer the following question:

Complete the title of Sé Merry Doyle’s 2010 documentary:

John Ford – ____________________.

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com before 2pm Thursday, 15th October when the Film Ireland Hat will plan, design, and construct a winner.

 

Share

Talking to My Father – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

2367-ColumbaScienceBlock____John_Donat_large

 

Grace Corry takes a look at Sé Merry Doyle‘s Talking to My Father, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

On a blue racer, Simon Walker cycles into the opening scene of this latest release from Loopline Productions, Talking to my Father. Propping his bike up against a high stone wall, he climbs its frame and a faint, nostalgic laughter sweeps the audience as he peers over to examine the hidden house that he grew up in. As he looks, photographs from the ’60s of a walled futuristic haven in the heart of Dublin city appear on screen – narrated by Simon, we take a pictorial tour of his early youth.

Sé Merry Doyle’s documentary follows Simon on his journey back through his own life and relationship with his father, Robin Walker. Robin was a remarkably talented and prolific figure in the reformation of Ireland’s architecture in what was an emerging, modern nation. Simon, also an architect, traces his memory with his father’s architecture as his guide, travelling Ireland from building to building, conversing with each across what Robin Walker understood to be a breathtakingly beautiful landscape, recognised in his work.

The documentary is in large part about that – the relationship we have with our environment and how architecture, particularly that of Robin Walker, contributes to that relationship.

Speaking to Sé Merry Doyle, he said he wanted to make a documentary about the human story within this, about the bond between father and son and the passion they shared for their art, juxtaposed by society’s transgression of it, highlighting the omnipresent role architecture plays in our lives and how little we value its history. There are certain elements of loss – Simon at times throughout seems unfulfilled by his relationship with his father, but where the humanistic aspects of the film appear wanting, the conversation through architecture deepens and it is these moments that reveal the tenderness felt, reinforced by the past and by his father’s absence.

The scenery is spectacular. We traverse Kenmare and Kinsale to Howth, with cinematographer Patrick Jordan providing long, worshipful shots that pan in time with the imagination thus creating an ease of understanding, lured by Simon’s narration which is in turn punctuated by Patrick Bergin reading Robin’s musings and philosophies that have been lovingly curated by his son. In this rhythm, we understand the importance of the telling of this story between father and son – not just its importance in capturing a story of love, but a story that teaches us that the most powerful and perhaps permanent thing in life is our memory.

 

 

 

 

Share

Interview with Sé Merry Doyle

Talking-to-my-Father-9-300x238

Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early ’60s and one of its most celebrated and influential figures was Robin Walker. Robin studied under Le Corbusier in Paris 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. Robin Walker became a key agent in this nation-building process.

A quarter of a century after his death, his son Simon Walker explores the legacy of his father’s life’s work in Talking to My Father. Director, Sé Merry Doyle’s allows Walker’s buildings to speak for themselves, taking us with Simon in his search for Robin’s architecture of place.

Grace Corry sat down with Sé Merry Doyle to discuss his documentary, which screens at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

Referring to Robin and Simon’s relationship and how you wanted to represent that in the film, you said that you wanted to capture them as father and son and as architects – was it difficult deciding which relationship to focus on more, or which relationship was more relevant to the film?

Well to me the big thing was that Simon wanted to pay homage to his father, both as a son and as an architect, both being from different eras – Robin’s era was kind of the golden age of modernism in Ireland, Simon is living in a country that’s just coming out of bankruptcy and such. Really, I wanted more of the human story as a film, I didn’t want it to be solely based on architecture in that I was more interested in trying to discover Robin through Simon. So it was kind of a gentle narrative and we worked a lot on that; it was probably the biggest thing we did. It started with me trying to encourage Simon to tackle the boxes and boxes he had of Robin’s writings, and in the end suggested to him to write a letter to his father, and that letter in a way became the application to the Arts Council or at least the central part of it. So that dialogue was always a central part.

 

Your own interests seem to have been with documenting historically and culturally defining moments in Ireland. Were you aware of how prolific an architect Robin Walker was or how instrumental he was in modernising Ireland?

No, I wasn’t. It was funny that, because I had done a film for instance about James Gannon and Georgian Dublin and made Sculptor of the Empire on John Henry Foley who did the Daniel O’Connell monument in Dublin and the Prince Albert monument in London, so funnily enough this was an area I wanted to dig in to. Simon shares an office with me and I knew how highly regarded his father was but I didn’t know that he had been with Mies van der Rohe (Paris) or Corbusier (Chicago). He studied and worked with both of them and I knew then that he was an individual whose story was worthwhile.

 

Did you approach this documentary – such an intimate situation and a sensitive subject – differently to how you made Alive Alive O – A Requiem For Dublin where you’re representing several voices or a community voice, as opposed to capturing this quite private discussion between father and son?

I wanted it to be something for all of us, I didn’t want it to be the same as the film I made on Patrick Scott [Golden Boy] – in that case I wanted the individual but this one I was kind of playing with what has happened to Dublin and who looks after it. One of Robin’s great buildings was UCD, which was originally an open plan for the students and now it’s been kind of turned into a supermarket. All the space has been taken away. The new Ireland that was coming after World War II and stagnation and economic failure had new buildings going up all over the place willy-nilly, but again after the oil crash of ’74 that all went away. The film is about whether we are invited into the conversation with those buildings that remain from that time. Do we like them? Do they mean anything to us now? The film is saying no in most cases.

 

I suppose working so closely with Simon on such a personal project about Robin’s work requires a particular approach to achieve the right balance.

Yeah, well that was delicate, you know, I’m not a Sunday World type of film journalist and I wanted Simon to have a certain amount of control. Once Simon knew that I was making a creative documentary and that there would be no interviews or appraisal type stuff and that it was really just going to be his own journey, that relaxed him. He’s a great writer and we spent hours and hours talking and looking back through his father’s papers and some of that went right into his heart. It was a complicated narrative but a great journey from reading old notes to going and seeing these buildings which made for some great moments in the film, a lot of which surprised me. I invited Simon to go as far as he wanted to go and he did.

 

So, what’s next for Talking to My Father?

At the moment I’m developing a film called John Huston – The Great White Whale, which is about Moby Dick and Herman Melville and a notion that Moby Dick is God and whoever kills him is akin to the apocalypse. We’re in development with the IFB and we’re very excited.

 

 

Talking to My Father screens at the IFI on Tuesday, 24th March @ 6pm as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Book tickets here

 

 

Share

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.

 

 

1185625_Price-Of-Desire.png

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.

 

 

 

2374-Coming_Home_-_Still_1_large

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.

 

FFFromtheDark

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

 

 

10689990_433978950088967_2061130925555037473_n

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

 

 

 24

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

 

Talking-to-My-Father-title-page-Black 

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

 

 

miss_julie

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

 

 

 

 

AllAboutEva2-1038x576

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

 

ad_(640x427) 

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

 

 

JJNg5W0WA59Vk9Ny5nJeODtvS4c

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.

 

image

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.

tumblr_static_5kx19hgbeds808ws0880wswcg

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

 

 

 

9871c7003ac2001f6c506d8ebd6aa64be573f02b

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

 

 

10959410_793181697403753_1233991335018548863_n

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

 

 

YXIMALLOO-film-still-1-650x290

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.

 

2418-Bill___May_Stephens_with_lion_cub_and_alsation_dog_large

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

 

 

images

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

Share