The History Of Irish Cinema

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The history of Irish cinema is a history the follows closely the political and social fortunes of the country over the last century, as is the case with much European cinema. Ireland was involved in the history of cinema from its earliest incarnations. The Lumiére Brothers rented their Cinématographe to operators in Dublin in 1886, just four months after the initial showings in Paris, and so the popularity of cinema was cemented in Ireland from its very inception. The moving picture shows were a common and popular pastime of the younger generations along with music halls, and were taken up enthusiastically by the lower and growing middle classes. Some films were also produced in Dublin by agents of the Lumiére Brothers, but these were only simple moving pictures, and many years passed until the first true film was produced in Ireland, 1910's The Lad From Old Ireland. This film was produced by the film company Kalem, an American company who employed director Sidney Olcott to make a film outside the USA. Olcott was to make many films set on location in Ireland, setting up a long-standing tradition of American production companies using Ireland as a location. This was disastrous for the indigenous film industry, which largely could not and did not exist until the 70's, and only truly bloomed even later still. In spite of this there were a few small Irish companies producing newsreel content at the time, notably General Film Supply. As the country transitioned from colony to independent state in the early 1920's, it was clear that the new government, swayed by the iron grip of the church, would not support the immorality of the film industry, and taxes were imposed on film stock and prints coming into the country, and The Censors... ... middle of paper ... ...lled practitioners within the industry, as well as providing a new training ground for the young film-makers now graduating from the wide array of media courses now on offer in the country. The future of Irish film-making is never certain. Funding will always be a struggle in such a small nation, especially in times of economic uncertainty. The last two or three decades have seen a shifting balance in Ireland between relying on outside productions and creating a body of indigenous film. Recent films like Run & Jump (Steph Green, 2013) and Frank (Lenny Abrahamson 2014), embody this fragile balance with their mix of international and home grown talent and storylines. The future of the film industry in Ireland, while never a sure thing, is more diverse and healthy than at many points in the past, and will no doubt produce many culturally significant films in the future.
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