Film body makes case against bord snips

 

ARTSCAPE: THE IRISH FILM BOARD/Bord Scannán Na hÉireann has expressed “concern” at certain ominous recommendations in the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes (An Bord Snip Nua).

The controversial document, which has already sent worried tremors through many cultural bodies, calls for the abolition of the Irish Film Board, the winding-up of its investment funds and the transfer of its enterprise functions to Enterprise Ireland, writes Donald Clarke.

In a statement released to its film industry partners, the board points out that government funding (€18.8 million in 2009) is key to sustaining an audiovisual industry that is, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, worth €½ billion per annum and offers permanent employment to more than 6,000 people. The statement argues that the growth of the audiovisual sector is essential to the strategy laid out in the Government’s recent policy paper, Building Ireland’s Smart Economy. “To be taken into consideration also are the consequences for Ireland if it were to become the only developed country in the world producing no films for the cinema,” warns the board’s document.

The statement was issued in the same week the board announced that six features funded by the body are to screen at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Neil Jordan’s Ondine, filmed in Cork last year, stars Colin Farrell as a fisherman who appears to catch a mermaid in his net. The Castleknock hunk also turns up in Triageas a war photographer who returns from Kurdistan with a terrible secret. Margaret Corkery’s touching, faintly sinister Eamon, which premiered to acclaim at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival, tells the odd story of a dissolute couple holidaying by the sea with their eccentric son. Jordan Scott, daughter of film-maker Ridley Scott, was in Co Wicklow last year to direct Eva Green in a school drama called Cracks, which will also be unspooling at this most prestigious of film festivals. Colony, a documentary feature by Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell, asks why bees are disappearing around the globe. Completing the Toronto line-up is Ian Fitzgibbon’s dramatic comedy, Perrier’s Bounty. Written by the gifted Mark O’Rowe, it stars Jim Broadbent and Cillian Murphy as two men on the run from hoodlum Brendan Gleeson.

The Irish Film Board’s statement pointed out that, according to a survey, nearly 50 per cent of American tourists to Ireland claim that seeing the country on film influenced their choice of destination. Expect an influx of Canadian visitors some time soon.

Maps of the traditional world

Traditional musicians now have the benefit of two new web-based resources to add to their stock of stories and tunes, writes Siobhán Long. The first is a new feature on donegalfiddlemusic.ie, the website of Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí, the Co Donegal-based association of fiddle players. Using digital maps, the association has sited information about local musicians from the Glencolmcille area (steeped in traditional music history) according to their home place or local parish.

Glencolmcille has been divided into six regions, and when one of these is selected, the website visitor is presented with a more detailed map identifying the locations of the home places of musicians from that region. (For example, by selecting the parish of Na Mínte, 32 fiddle players’ homes are highlighted in red, including that of the late James Byrne, who died last year.) Many of the musicians have dedicated pages containing short narratives about their lives and, where possible, a photograph and a sound-clip.

The site also includes MP3 tunes associated with particular musicians. It is a valuable resource for musicians and all those interested in exploring the rich musical heritage of Co Donegal.

A second website, tunepal.org, has been launched by Dr Bryan Duggan. This is a query-by-playing search engine for traditional dance tunes, with a database of more than 11,500 melodies. If you’ve ever wondered about the name of a tune you have in your head, you can simply play a phrase from the tune into the search engine, and it will search for a match within its database. (Duggan warns that the system works best with “legato”-style instruments such as flute, tin whistle, concertina, accordion, pipes and fiddle).

Feedback from musicians who’ve tried it has been extremely positive so far, with one noting in the traditional music chatroom, thesession.org, that he “tried several more well-known tunes, with good results. It’s very forgiving of minor mistakes, but gets confused if you swing the rhythm too much”. Another remarked that tunepal.org worked well with both obscure and well-known tunes.

All in all, maybe a small step for a musician but a giant leap for traditional music?

The quality of Claremorris

Claremorris Open Exhibition has confirmed that London curator Tom Morton is to select works for this year’s event in the south Co Mayo town in September, writes Lorna Siggins. Morton is attached to the Hayward Galleries Project Space and is also co-curator of the next British Art Show. He has curated a number of international exhibitions and is a contributing editor of Friezemagazine.

His first task at Claremorris is to screen proposals from more than 200 artists who have submitted entries, of whom 30 will make the final cut. First held in a school gym in 1978, the Claremorris Open Exhibition has gained international status over three decades, with businesses in the town being central to the event as they provide window space for the exhibition’s art trail.

“I was fortunate enough that some of the previous curators of the exhibition are friends of mine, and they told me what a fantastic experience they’d had here,” Morton says. “I guess that kind of prepared the ground a bit for me. I must say that I’ve had a really, really pleasant and intellectually enriching time doing this.

“What has really delighted me going through this material is the quality. It’s been a genuine pleasure to go through this.”

Commenting on the location, he observes that although contemporary art tends to be associated with the “urban” in the public mind, the “rural” has been central historically to the “avant-garde imagination”. He believes “we need more events like the Claremorris Open Exhibition”.

Meanwhile, in Co Leitrim, Carrick-on-Shannon is also hosting a multi-venue event shortly, this time to mark the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death. A production of Handel’s opera, Alcina, will be a highlight of the fifth annual Carrick Water Music Festival next week, from Tuesday, August 4th to Sunday, 9th. Multiple instrument player and composer Emer Mayock, guitarist Redmond O’Toole and violinist Elizabeth Cooney are among the many classical, traditional, folk and world music performers also appearing at the festival. Bookings and information: carrickwatermusic.com; 071-9650828.