Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who's next?

Mary Hanafin...
Martin Cullen...
Seamus Brennan...
John O'Donoghue...

People will talk, they'll say the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport is a political albatross.

Some afterthoughts...
Will it stay a separate Department? Become a junior Ministerial responsibility in a larger Department? Have other responsibilities added to it (like, say, Communications) so that it becomes a more important Department?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekend trim bin

* Fascinating piece by Colm Keena in today's Irish Times - since heavily corrected - about former Anglo Irish Bank CEO David Drumm's tax affairs. Anglo's film activity was not mentioned in the piece but it certainly was one way that Anglo personnel dealt with their tax liabilities.

* Major public meeting scheduled for Brussels on March 18 to discuss the future of the EU MEDIA programmes, if they have a future. Information updates on the meeting will be posted here.

* European filmmakers are up in arms about the rumoured abolition of the MEDIA programmes. We refuse, purely and simply, to allow the Media Programme to be abolished, or even to see it merged within another, more extensive programme. We call upon the President of the European Commission to receive a delegation of European film-makers and to do so as quickly as possible. Naturally, this serious challenge does serious harm to creativity and culture, the foundations of our identity and our European values. There's a downloadable petition here which can be signed and sent to

* Meanwhile several organisations (some of which depend on the MEDIA programme for funding) have written to the EC President demanding a meeting. Every support scheme of the MEDIA Programme targets a specific area but takes part in a more global logic that aims at improving the competitiveness of the European film business and promoting European cultural diversity, both essential in the successful construction of the European Union and its identity. Since its beginning, the MEDIA Programme has enabled European producers, distributors and exhibitors, and especially the independent companies, to develop their structures and hire staff despite their risky activities. It has promoted a favourable financial environment for them to produce, acquire, release and screen European films.

* The Northern Ireland Screen Fund has been declared kosher by the Competition DG of the EC. The public version of this decision is not yet available. It will be displayed as soon as it has been cleansed of any confidential information.

* The Film Board only recently published some funding decisions made two months ago on December 14.
Project Director Writer Production Company Funding Award
Fiction Feature Films
Life's A Breeze Lance Daly Lance Daly Fastnet Films Provisional Offer of Commitment
Love Eternal Brendan Muldowney Brendan Muldowney Fastnet Films €600,000
Jump Kieron J. Walsh Lisa McGee Blinder Films & Hotshot Films €300,000
Fiction Creative Co-production
Strangerland Kim Farrant Fiona Seres Fastnet Films Provisional Offer Of Commitment
Call Girl Mikael Marcimain Mikael Marcimain Newgrange Pictures €150,000
Kelly & Victor Kieran Evans K. Evans & N. Griffiths Venom Limited €150,000
Niko: A Family Affair K. Juusonen & J. Lerdom Magma Films €150,000
Men At Lunch Sean O'Cualain Sonta Productions Provisional Offer Of Commitment
Black Dragon Gary Lennon Gambit Pictures €10,000
Neal MacGregor: The Remains Of A Man Neasa Ni Chianáin Soilsiú Films €5,000
Canvas Sinead O'Brien Cadenza Pictures €10,000
Ballymun Lullaby Frank Reid Pulp Films €60,000
The Last Hijack T. Pallotta & F. Wolting T. Pallotta & F. Wolting Still Films Provisional Offer Of Commitment

Project Director Writer Production Company Funding Award
Marketing Support
All Good Children Alicia Duffy Alicia Duffy Element Distribution €9,300
The Guard John McDonagh John McDonagh Element Distribution €75,000
One Hundred Mornings Conor Horgan Conor Horgan Blinder Films €10,000


Subsidised Quasi-Industrial Dependency

This is a reflection on the Film Board’s letter to some folks in the Irish production sector.

I believe the new CEO will take on most of the wider policy issues and relationships formerly undertaken by IFB Chairs. The new CEO will not take an ‘editorial’ role – a response, perhaps, to the perception that the Board had, in effect, been acting as a producer itself. To the extent, some believe, of sourcing and divvying out co-production work on non-indigenous projects, with agreements in principle to fund being brought back to Irish producers from festivals abroad. If that did happen, should it have happened?

The Board intends to engage an additional person with a record of proven achievement in filmmaking to work as part of our Production and Development team. Will this address the script problems identified by many critics, or will it continue a co-production agenda for non-indigenous projects?

The Board anticipates a substantial increase in the focus on sectoral and industry development. What does this mean, and what are the expected outcomes? Sustainable businesses? Further indirect subsidy to facility and service providers?

We believe that Irish filmmaking and the broader production industry will continue to be at the heart of Government policies for growth and job creation for as long as the case is successfully made and measurable results can demonstrate the success of such policies. This gives fluffy, wish-fulfilling statistics more importance than cultural value.

We will encourage open discussion among filmmakers about what constitutes Irish film and the creative direction it should be taking, and we will seek to work with Irish filmmakers to ensure that their films increasingly appeal to cinema-going audiences. Does this mean – talk among yourselves and decide what Irish film is and the Irish Film Board will tell you what audiences like?

For over a year the IFB has been putting together the Strategic Film Review aka the ‘Tuohy Report’ (aka The Kilkenny Report MkII), without any public consultation or discourse. The reach of the group conducting the ‘strategic review’ is the sustainable growth of the whole Audio Visual Production Sector over the next five years.

It will propose a substantial increase in the number of direct responsibilities of the IFB to the new Government. Surely this will result in a dilution of the IFB’s current resources and responsibilities?

It is nearly twenty years since the reconstitution of the Board and the expansion of the tax break. Hundreds of millions in public funding has been expended through the Board and the tax break since that time and yet there is hardly any ‘industry’ to speak of that would survive in the absence of the State’s (and additional EC) support.

A measure of any industry or sector is its sustainability. Sustainability is built on successful sales by companies of products or services that have a realisable market value where competitive pricing is not underwritten by subsidy. If our audiovisual companies are businesses, therefore, in the absence of subsidies, they should earn a profit over and above their overhead and costs of production.

The reality of Irish audiovisual production, however, is that the cost of the product is, in effect, its sale price. Or, to look at it the other way, the buyer purchases the product by paying for its production.

That is also often the extent of the demand for the product. Rarely do products earn more than their initial production cost and when they do (by making further sales, for example) the producer has to share the additional income with co-owners (co-developers, commissioners, co-producers, co-financiers) of the product, as well as sales agents, distributors and exhibitors.

Only broadcasters in Ireland have the resources with which to produce product, in-house, because they own the outlet, are subsidised to a greater or lesser extent, and have a captured share of the market.

The consequence of this is that independent producers compensate for their companies’ dearth of sales income with substantial fee income on each product. Individuals may become wealthy from film production while their businesses stay poor and dependent on ongoing subsidy. We should ask ourselves – How much corporation tax did Irish film production companies pay last year? Or the audiovisual sector as a whole? And subsidising this activity, whether through the IFB or the tax break, could be viewed as an indirect transfer of wealth to the few and an incentivised employment scheme for the many.

Added to this is the practice, usual in film, whereby each production is a separate subsidiary corporate undertaking – a business in its own right with discretely structured ownership. It is a one-off, temporary enterprise and therefore not required to be sustainable or sustaining. It is orphaned almost as soon as it is authored and all involved move on or wait for the next project.

In the absence of a near impossible combination of significant risk capital, scale of output, extraordinary talent and strong market demand, the production of films is neither an industry nor is it a sustainable business model. So why continue to pretend that it is? Its importance is cultural, not industrial, with some variable economic spin-off in services and employment.

There is no such thing as ‘creative industries’. It is as useful a political buzz-phrase as the ‘smart economy’. Certainly there is creative endeavour that is occasionally profitable for talent, its producers and its distributors. But most creative endeavour is not profitable, it is valuable in ways less amenable to measurement.

Most creative activity is not rewarded in ways that are economically calculable. And, lastly, profitable creative endeavour is not replicable. Lest this brings on a ‘whatabout’ response let it be said, for instance, that the gaming industry is not analogous to the film industry. Production costs and hiring patterns may be somewhat similar but the product is very different, consumer pricing is very different, and the retail model (or the online subscription model) generates a much higher and more direct return to the producer, usually a single company.

Who will insist that we make films that speak to us rather than films that have measurable economic indicators?

Monday, February 21, 2011

An epistle to 'the industry'

Herewith a letter doing the rounds from the Film Board to certain folks in the film business. I'll save any commentary for the next post.

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board is Ireland’s only dedicated screen agency with a dual responsibility to both foster and develop creatively led and distinctive Irish filmmaking, and to develop an industry for the making of films in Ireland. Film and cinema is at the heart of our remit and we recognise that the environment in which filmmakers are working is subject to constant and increasing change. Nowhere more so than in the way in which filmmakers can either succeed or fail to reach their audiences, which is at the heart of everything we do. We also recognise that many who work in film, also work in television and other forms of audio visual production and this wider definition of the industry has been identified and described in the Audio Visual Production Survey commissioned by the IFB and produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

You and your members know in a most direct way that we are living in a time of dramatic change and economic turmoil and so too is Bord Scannán na hÉireann/ the Irish Film Board. As an agency we know that we must constantly evolve if the agency is to remain relevant and meet the needs of both filmmakers, the wider production industry and retain the on-going support of Government and the public. It is in these contexts that I would like to outline and put forward, on behalf of the Board, the key priorities and issues we plan to actively engage with in the months ahead.

The appointment of a new Chief Executive is a major next step in the evolution of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and will in time result in some realignment of responsibilities within the IFB as we identify and engage with the issues that most directly affect those working in the industry today and in the future. The role of Chief Executive includes overall responsibility for ensuring that the IFB’s dual remit to filmmakers and the broader industry are fully met, and in the year ahead we anticipate a substantial increase in the focus on sectoral and industry development. We see this as essential if we are to ensure that filmmaking and the audiovisual production sector as a whole benefits from the emerging focus and support for Ireland’s Creative Industries. We believe that Irish filmmaking and the broader production industry will continue to be at the heart of Government
policies for growth and job creation for as long as the case is successfully made and measurable results can demonstrate the success of such policies.

The creative direction of Irish filmmaking and the ongoing support for Irish filmmaking talent is a key responsibility and is at the heart of any strategy for industry success and growth. As part of our overall plan for the year we also therefore intend to engage an additional person with a record of proven achievement in filmmaking to work as part of our Production and Development team. We will encourage open discussion among filmmakers about what constitutes Irish film and the creative direction it should be taking, and we will seek to work with Irish filmmakers to ensure that their films increasingly appeal to cinema-going audiences.

We have previously announced that the IFB has initiated, with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, an industry wide consultation in order to set out a strategy and policy recommendations to Government that would support the sustainable growth of the whole Audio Visual Production Sector over the next five years. Chaired by former Secretary General Brendan Tuohy, consultation work commenced towards the end of 2009 and early 2010. Since then the IFB has acted as the co-ordinator of an extensive consultation process carried out by the strategy group with all the organizations, representative groups and interested parties that contribute to the Audio visual production sector in Ireland. The results of the industry wide consultation and the recommendations of the strategy group were reaching their conclusion towards the end of 2010 and with the announcement of an election in February 2011 it now seems likely that the report will be submitted to the new Government at an early date following its formation.

In the event that the industry strategy document is adopted by the Government we anticipate that this will result in a substantial increase in the number of direct responsibilities of the IFB although the prospect of additional resources in the current climate is limited. This will be the challenge facing our new Chief Executive together with the staff of the IFB. Together with our staff the Board is committed to working with you and for you to advance the interests of all who make films, or work in film, animation and television in the year ahead.


The tenth round of funding for independent TV production from the BCI Sound & Vision fund has just been announced. Full details here. Would that the Film Board were equally transparent in the manner in which it announces its funding decisions.

Only one single, feature-length drama has been funded - Vico Films' Grooskill which has an award of €250,000, or 23% of its total budget, with backing from TV3. There are a few interesting feature documentaries, one a biography of the late Nuala O'Faolain.

A first, I think, is a successful application from RTE Cork - as an independent producer?! - for two natural history programmes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Arts Council Projects - film

This isn't news in the strict meaning of the word but I haven't come across any reference to these projects since the Arts Council announced their funding back in December under the project awards scheme.

Ciotóg [Arts participation, Dublin, €40,000]
A collaborative site-specific dance film involving older dancers from the Macushla Dance Club with choreographer Ríonach Ní Néill, professional dancers from Ciotóg, and film-artist, Joe Lee. It will be launched in May 2011 and will screen nationwide during the Bealtaine Festival. Macushla dancers and lead artists will give dance workshops and talks to active retirement groups in selected venues.

Untitled [Film, Dublin, €26,500]
Two short non-narrative films by Lanka Haouche Perren exploring the work and methods of artists, Clare Langan and Gary Coyle.

Untitled [Film, Dublin, €40,000]
An experimental film by Clare Langan featuring the Atlantean imagery of an abandoned contemporary, yet un-named city.

Untitled [Film, Offaly, €32,400]
An experimental film by Nicky Larkin examining the 'shades of grey' in ordinary life in Israel and Palestine.

Untitled [Film, Cork, €5,940]
A short non-narrative film by Doireann O'Malley featuring the ignition and burning of a Gilbert piano.

The Script [Visual arts, Leitrim, €26,000]
A series of short films by Grace Weir, showing the artist making words, relevant to the filmed activity or making reference to filmic terms. To produce new work for shows at Morono Kiang Gallery, LA and Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, Germany in 2011.

A case of 'Chacun..

..a son gout' (if my memory serves me correctly) at the forthcoming Cork French Film Festival, March 6-13.

A really interesting programme has been put together by the team at the Alliance in Cork. information here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Four Seconds (may contain spoilers)

All Good Children the UK/France/Ireland co-production shown at Cannes last year and briefly released in Dublin on December 27th is to be released on DVD on March 4th.

The cinema release was classified '15A' while the DVD release is classified '15', illustrating the sometimes subtle difference between releases of the same title on the different platforms. It's indicative of the classifiers' view that cinema-going is more controlled than the home rental market.

Curiously, while the cinema release classification was somewhat more lenient, All Good Children was said to contain 'moderate' sex/nudity on the big screen. But the DVD version, if that is how we should characterise it, classifies the sex/nudity content as 'none'.

A look at the respective running times confirms that the DVD release is four seconds shorter than the version released in the cinema. Might this mean that four seconds of 'sex/nudity' has been cut from the DVD release of All Good Children in order to avoid the tougher '18' classification? There is no intermediate '16' rating for the DVD market, as exists for cinema releases.

Or perhaps the DVD classifier zoned out and missed those critical four seconds?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Arts Industry

Reports on the 'arts hustings' organised yesterday by the National Campaign for the Arts are available here from Rosita Boland and Lorna Siggins in today's Irish Times. A podcast of the Dublin meeting is available here.

The reports seem to confirm what I was told in an email early yesterday evening - that film was barely mentioned and that not many members of the film-making community were in evidence at the Dublin meeting. Perhaps things were different at the meetings in Galway, Cork and Limerick. Pictures here.

According to the report of the Dublin meeting the panellists were all asked if there would there be a cabinet minister with responsibility for the arts in the new government. 'Everyone answered “yes” unequivocally, to a palpable sense of relief from the audience.'

I actually think that was the wrong question because if the government departments are consolidated (which Fine Gael may well have in mind) then the arts could become a very, very minor responsibility within a much broader remit.

Two of the panellists present, Jimmy Deenihan (FG) and Alex White (Lab), were mentioned in a recent post I wrote about Johnny Gogan's candidacy in Sligo-North Leitrim. One might have thought that they would have had something interesting to say about the film or audiovisual sector but apparently all the panellists, including the current minister, came out with a similar line about retaining the tax break and the Film Board.

That's all very well but the real questions, the harder ones for us all to answer, begin with why. As in, Why have a tax break and a Film Board? There is such an emphasis in the culture sector - and yes, it's widespread in all areas of public spending - on maintaining frail budget lines that first principles have, by and large, gone by the wayside.

I blame this forgetfulness not on the fraught state of the economy but on the hiatus in discourse that took hold during the supposed boom years when it became easier to argue about How much? than to enter into a debate about Why?

As a result, the discourse around funding for the arts has drifted from the premise of support for the making of work into justifications based on economic outcomes which are seldom challenged within or by the ‘arts’ community. These are the positions and arguments being adopted by many in the arts in the run in to the election.

I believe it’s a diversionary, apologetic logic which on the one hand tacitly undermines the value of art (‘for art’s sake’) and, on the other, shelters a burgeoning adminstration that mediates between the making of art and the citizens' access to it. So yes, ‘the arts matter’, and yes, we should ’support the arts’, but we need to be very clear about our guiding principles and that they deliver culturally valuable outcomes.

Otherwise we should do away with the government department and the Film Board, as Colm McCarthy suggested, and situate the culture/arts brief in a department where the remit is resolutely centered on marketing, employment, and industrial outcomes. A department where the cultural or artistic value of the output is immaterial as long as businesses prosper and job numbers grow.

Perhaps this is more an issue with film, and the discourse around its funding, than it is with the other arts. It is a fact, for instance, that the public cost (€600,000) of turning a Dublin intervention beef warehouse into a studio for Leap Year was greater than the public cost of either Adam & Paul or Once or His and Hers or any of the three Catalyst film projects - Eamon, Rewind, and One Hundred Mornings.

In fact the total Irish public cost of Leap Year was €13m, whereas the total cost of the other six films above amounted to around €2m. And, if I'm not mistaken, no ownership or rights in Leap Year are retained within the state. The spend and spin-off arguments for the likes of Leap Year are like holy writ so let's have some heretical rhetoric.

Let's ask ourselves, what is our culture policy? Why do we have a cabinet minister for culture? What are our cultural priorities? What is the primary purpose of public funding for film?

If our answers to these questions begin with anything other than what may be conveyed to ourselves and others by the work itself, work such as Leap Year, then we are not talking about artistic endeavour but its by-product.

That is analagous to talking about the Joyce 'industry' as if Ulysses were a meaningless pot boiler that signified nothing other than the steady, if occasional work it has created for publishers, printers and booksellers.

There is no 'industry' around meaningless endeavour in the arts, only the greasy till, the tugged forelock, and discordant tunes played by off-shore pipers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Distribution once again

News reaches me of further Irish titles being released over the next couple of months. This seems to be following the pattern last year when a dozen or more Irish films were released in Spring.

On the blocks this year we have, so far -
Feb 18 A Shine of Rainbows
March 04 As If I Am Not There
March 18 Between the Canals
March 25 Wake Wood, Rewind
April 01 Killing Bono, Essential Killing

And Your Highness which filmed in Northern Ireland is out on April 15

Dates pending:
Snap (April)
One Hundred Mornings

I may be wrong but I suspect that the release of the 2009 Canada/Ireland co-production A Shine of Rainbows may have been slotted in in order to meet contractual commitments. [Update: A Shine of Rainbows is getting a single print release from UK company High Fliers Films at a cinema in Letterkenny, not too far from the film's shooting location in Inishowen. The same company is releasing it on DVD on March 14]

This is what happened last year with one or two Irish co-productions which received very little if any coverage in advance of their release and went on to take less than €500 at the box office.

It'll be a boon to headline writers but otherwise it's a bit unfortunate that Essential Killing and Killing Bono are both scheduled to be released on April Fool's Day.

Essential Killing has different distributors in Ireland (Element) and the UK (Artificial Eye) so I wonder if it's opening 'day and date' on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Given that there was no UK backer or producer involved in the film - whereas there was considerable Irish backing (€500k) through the IFB (plus Section 481 for post-production, I think) - it's surprising that the UK rights were sold off.

Other Irish co-productions due for release during the year have similarly split rights between Ireland the UK. The Guard and This Must Be the Place are both Element releases in Ireland and are being handled respectively by Optimum and Pathe in the UK.

Optimum and Element do have a working relationship but I wonder if it stretches to the Irish partner sharing equally or proportionately in the financial success in the UK of a title it has co-produced?

When it comes to This Must Be the Place or, say, the Soderbergh title Haywire, I wonder if the sizeable Irish contribution (IFB and Section 481) to the budgets of these films ought to be enough to determine that both the Irish AND UK rights are retained by the Irish co-producers as a potential source of return on the Irish investment in the films.

Meanwhile, the Irish co-production Triage has gone straight to DVD. Mind you, you won't find it on the shelves with that title... it's now known as Shell Shock.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A fresh script

As might be expected, Screen Producers Ireland warmly welcomed the announcement today of James Hickey's appointment as CEO of the Irish Film Board. The last paragraph of their release gives an indication of what's being going on behind the scenes over the last while.

In addition SPI welcomes the Irish Film Board’s initiative of consultation ahead of the publication of its report which will set out future strategy & policy recommendations for the audio visual production sector, ahead of its presentation to Government later this month.

I expect the report will be fresh out of its envelope and waiting on the new minister's desk.


Interesting clarification note on the London Film Critics' Circle Awards which were given out this evening at the BFI, Southbank.

The British categories refer to the British Isles, and therefore films, filmmakers, actors and actresses from both the UK and Ireland are eligible.

Could be an interesting talking point at the IFTAs this weekend!

The 'British' award categories went as follows:
The King's Speech (Momentum)
Runner-up: Another Year (Momentum)
Tom Hooper - The King's Speech (Momentum)
Runner-up: Mike Leigh - Another Year (Momentum)
Christian Bale - The Fighter (Paramount/Momentum)
Runner-up: Jim Broadbent - Another Year (Momentum)
Lesley Manville - Another Year (Momentum)
Runner-up: Tilda Swinton - I Am Love (Metrodome)
Andrew Garfield - The Social Network (Sony)
Runner-up: David Bradley - Another Year (Momentum)
Olivia Williams - The Ghost (Optimum)
Runner-up: Rosamund Pike - Made in Dagenham (Paramount)
Conor McCarron - NEDs (Entertainment One)
Runner-up: Jessica Barden - Tamara Drewe (Momentum)
Gareth Edwards - Monsters (Vertigo)
Runner-up: Clio Barnard - The Arbor (Verve)

White smoke in Galway

The new CEO for the Irish Film Board will be James Hickey, entertainment lawyer and agent/representative, former SPI lead on negotiations with RTE, and general all-round soul of affability.

James Hickey takes up the role on June 1st and will be working with the IFB in a part-time consultative capacity until then. Hickey and IFB Chairman James Morris both serve as external board directors of IMRO.

It will be interesting to see what character and direction Hickey's leadership of the agency will take. He will have to quickly learn how to say no to his many former clients who will be lobbing in funding applications, cap in hand.

I think it's good that the Board have not employed another producer as CEO and it's to be hoped that James will steer a fair course between looking after the public interest and putting it up to producers to get on with it and make their own deals.

His biggest challenges will be get real cultural value from the State's substantial contribution to the sector, and to encourage audiovisual businesses to become less dependent on State funding.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Opera Territoria

I received the following press release which is interesting on a number of counts, particularly from the perspective of exhibitor programme choice, emerging programming possibilities for other venues, and the added pressure on screen space for films that already find it difficult to secure distribution and exhibition.

But spot the territorial issue that demonstrates both an attitude in the trade and the degree to which programming is being determined outside Ireland.

"European Cinema Audiences First to Experience Carmen in 3D
Valentine’s Day Preview of World’s First 3D Opera in 51 Locations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy.
"LOS ANGELES and LONDON (February 3, 2011) – RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) announced today that European audiences will be the first in the world to experience Carmen in 3D when the theatrical entertainment event is previewed in 51 locations across in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy on Monday 14 February, prior to its worldwide release on Saturday 5 March 2011, exclusively in RealD 3D-equipped theatres.
"Carmen in 3D previews will take place on 14 February at the following locations (show times available in local listings):
United Kingdom
Odeon Cinemas:
Covent Garden
Edinburgh Lothian Road
Glasgow Quay
Liverpool ONE
Oxford -- George Street
Swiss Cottage
Tunbridge Wells


[The italics are mine]

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Northwest Wing

Not many members of the Irish film-making community have been publicly involved in electoral politics through the years, though many may have contributed behind the scenes like Liam O Laoghaire did when he made Our Country, an influential campaign film for Clann na Poblachta in 1948.

I believe Fine Gael's Jimmy Deenihan has some production experience and Labour's Alex White is a former RTE producer. Eoin Holmes, a Labour party councillor in County Meath, would be well-known to many in the industry as an independent producer but he is not a candidate in the election.

So it's newsworthy then that film director and Irish Film Board member Johnny Gogan is standing as a candidate for the Green Party in the Sligo/North Leitrim constituency. Further information on his campaign here, and on the full range of constituency candidates here.

Any other film or arts practitioners on the hustings?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More light on Solas?

An anonymous commenter has added their two cents to my recent post about the Solas cinema project in Galway. Building work stalled early last Summer having commenced in September 2009. The project was to have been completed by August 2010.

S/he says, One thing that does not appear to be public knowledge is that this project appears to be legally structured as a subsidiary undertaking of the Irish Film Institute / IFI.
The Memorandum of Association of Solas - Galway Picture Palace Teoranta was Amended on June 6th 2008 and lodged with the Companies Registration Office / CRO on September 10th 2008.
This Amended Memorandum is essentially that of the Irish Film Institute, with the IFI and its premises in Dublin referred to in several Articles, and with additional clauses relating to Solas (deemed to be Subsidiary Objects) inserted after Article 9.
Why this apparent connection has not been divulged or publicised is curious.

There may be nothing to this, if the facts are as stated.

The IFI's Memo & Articles may have been borrowed to update preliminary documentation that had been filed by Solas, but perhaps references to the IFI were not taken out? Ok, that does seem unlikely.

A more likely possibility might be that because of the size and financial scope of the Solas project it needed to be 'sheltered' by an established body with significant turnover. And it may be relevant that the IFI already has a subsidiary company based in Galway which operates the Cinemobile.

That said, Solas is being established by four long-standing Galway organisations - the Galway Film Society, Galway Film Fleadh, Galway Film Centre and Galway Arts Centre. One would have imagined that between them they have the experience and wherewithal to see the project to completion.

If it is being established as a subsidiary of the IFI then that might sugggest that Solas has become IFI-West rather than an independent cinema in its own right, run by and for the people of Galway. And that perception might explain the lack of information about the IFI connection, if it does in fact exist.

Back to Noir

Good to see Ireland's Cultural Ambassador Gabriel Byrne back in front of a movie camera. He has just started a six-week shoot, initially in London, on I, Anna. The film is an adaptation of Elsa Lewin's novel of the same name, a story about a femme fatale who falls for the detective in charge of a murder case in which she is the main suspect.

Charlotte Rampling is Byrne's co-star in the film which is written and directed by Barnaby Southcombe. Other cast includes Eddie Marsan, Jodhi May, Bill Milner and Honor Blackman. I, Anna is a co-production between Britain, France and Germany where the last week's shoot will take place in a Hamburg studio.

Byrne is also among the starry Irish cast lined up for Brendan Gleeson's At Swim Two Birds adaptation which, it's safe to assume, will not start shooting until late March or April at the earliest.