Northern Ireland: Battle of Images

May 31 to June 15

The images that have come to define the thirty-year conflict in Northern Ireland known as “the Troubles” have been primarily those of television and fiction: news reports and talking head docs, or gritty crime movies and human-interest dramas. But there is another visual history of the conflict preserved in a lesser-known, diverse group of international, politically militant and formally experimental films of the ‘70s and ‘80s. While most could be classed as documentaries, their innovative formal approaches discourage any complacent acceptance of the “real,” and often highlight how images of Northern Ireland have been manipulated and weaponized by the state and the media. Coming from various radical and artistic milieus in New York, London and Paris, the filmmakers tend to focus on, and advocate for, the marginalized “republican” or nationalist minority in the North who seek a united Irish republic free of British occupation, as opposed to the British-identifying “loyalist” or “unionist” majority. Many collaborated with locals eager for representation outside of the narrow frames of Irish and British media, which often emphasized the conflict’s religious dimension over its more decisive colonial and class factors, providing a necessary counternarrative.

Series programmed and notes by Dónal Foreman.
Special thanks to Sunniva O’Flynn and the Irish Film Institute.

Previously Screened