The Irish Film Institute has unveiled the first volume of The Loopline Collection, showcasing materials from Loopline Film, one of Ireland’s most influential production companies. Founded in 1992 by filmmaker Sé Merry Doyle, this pioneering company specialised in documentary and TV series, producing a number of hugely important films including significant portraits of prominent cultural figures and work highlighting pressing social issues. Among the material is previously unreleased footage of U2 playing live on Sheriff Street in 1982.
The material is accompanied online by never-before-seen outtakes, interviews and additional material, giving unparalleled access not only to the subjects themselves, but to Merry Doyle’s immersive, detailed and committed filmmaking approach.
This first volume of the collection documents fascinating moments in recent Irish social history: most timely is Liam McGrath’s Essie’s Last Stand, a look at an elderly woman’s fight to stay in her home as developers look to take over her apartment block for redevelopment. Alive Alive O: A Requiem for Dublin features original poetry from Paula Meehan, and examines a time when the livelihoods of Dublin’s iconic street traders were under threat and when drugs became a scourge of the inner city; the film, directed by Merry Doyle, includes footage shot by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, Oscar-nominated this year for his work on The Favourite. Looking On focuses on a vibrant inner city festival in 1982, spearheaded by activist Mick Rafferty and the late politician Tony Gregory, and features the early rooftop appearance by U2.
Other titles to feature as part of the collection include the intimate portrait Patrick Scott: Golden Boy, produced by Andrea Pitt and Maria Doyle Kennedy of Mermaid Films as part of RTÉ Arts Lives, which gives an unparalleled insight into the work of one of Ireland’s foremost abstract painters; the film includes footage shot by Seámus McGarvey, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer of Atonement and Anna Karenina. Patrick Kavanagh: No Man’s Fool is a focus on the life of the renowned poet, with contributions from poets John Montague and Macdara Woods, writer Dermot Healy, and singer Jimmy Kelly.
The Imprint series, hosted by Theo Dorgan and first broadcast on RTÉ between 1999 and 2001, features in-depth and revealing interviews with some of the literary world’s most notable figures such as Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Gore Vidal, Eavan Boland and Colm Tóibín, while the six-part series The Good Age, originally broadcast in 1997, is an intriguing look at the issues facing older people, with candid personal testimonies about intimacy, self-care and ageism.