The IFI will present the a complete programme of films directed by Cathal Black (Feb 6th-14th) and an in-depth career-spanning interview hosted by Dr Tony Tracy (NUIG) on February 13th (which includes a screening of his latest film, Butterfly).
Sunniva O’Flynn, Head of Irish Film Programming says “We are pleased to present Cathal Black’s catalogue in its entirety and to expose audiences to these compelling stories and to the full force of his uncompromising vision which he has sustained for over forty years.”
Black’s narratives of distinctly drawn and wholly sympathetic individuals are often bleak but leavened by dark humour, or historical and enlivened by ingrained and powerful passions. He burrows into the national psyche to find unsettling tales of unease – of alienation, homosexuality, prostitution, emigration, poverty and despair. His characters fight to escape the shibboleths of Ireland’s heroic past and the injustices of its present.
Black has sustained a visionary cinematic practice for almost 40 years, since his directorial debut, Wheels in 1976. This adaptation of John McGahern’s story tells of a young man’s return home to fraught relations with his father on the family farm. Our Boys (1981), though suppressed for many years, is one his best known works. A politically and technically bold film, it exposes the culture of fear and brutality which reigned in Christian Brothers’ institutions for much of the 20th century.
Made during the 1980s recession, Pigs is infused with fury and despair. Jimmy (Jimmy Brennan), a gay man separated from his wife, moves into a crumbling Henrietta Street mansion alongside a host of other misfits. Though relieved by moments of dark comedy, a bleaker vision of urban life had not been seen before in Irish film. Korea, released in 1994, was Black’s second John McGahern adaptation. In Cavan in the 1950s,teenager Eamon (Andrew Scott) has emigration on his mind as he spends his last summer with his father; John Doyle (Donal Donnelly) before leaving home. The film revisits themes of generational conflict and examines the inextricable hold of history on the present.
Love and Rage, released in 1998, was Black’s most stylistically ambitious work to date, with outstanding cinematography of stunning island locations by the Polish master Slawomir Idziak (Three Colours Blue), a big-name cast and a tale that builds to a full-blown Gothic climax. Set at the end of the 19th century on a large estate on Achill Island, Agnes MacDonnell (Greta Scacchi) a tough pipe-smoking, gun-toting English landowner meets her match in the dark, mysterious James Lynchehaun (Daniel Craig). Despite their obvious class and age differences, a passionate and dangerous affair ensues.
Invisible World, released in 1999 is a film which explores the invisible world of healing. It follows Tony Hogan as a child on his journey through illness into health and then later his first tentative steps to become a healer. In 2007, Black created a film that is sensitive, beautiful and, in its own right, a finely crafted piece of poetry: Learning Gravity/The Undertaking is a film about Thomas Lynch, a Detroit-based mortician who is also an Irishman and when not in the US, Lynch lives in Co. Clare and is a poet and essayist of immense repute. The film is neither morose nor melancholic, but is rich in Lynch’s passion and humour.
As part of the retrospective, the IFI will present the Dublin premiere of Black’s new drama Butterfly (2015), a taut character study in which Leonard (Denis Conway), a lonely probation officer, estranged from his wife, is faced with the difficult task of writing a report on Teri (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), a mercurial young graphic designer with convictions for minor theft.
FEB 6TH (14.00) WHEELS + OUR BOYS
FEB 6TH (15.40) PIGS
FEB 7TH (14.00) KOREA
FEB 10TH (18.30) BUTTERFLY + INVISIBLE WORLD
FEB 13TH (14.00) IN CONVERSATION – Cathal Black with Dr Tony Tracy followed by screening of BUTTERFLY
FEB 13TH (18.30) LEARNING GRAVITY / THE UNDERTAKING
FEB 14TH (16.00) LOVE & RAGE
Tickets for these screenings + Cathal Black in conversation on Feb 13th are available now from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie.