Author: Ruth Barton

Written by one of the leading authorities on Irish cinema, Irish cinema in the twenty-first century is an important contribution to debates on the possibility of a national cinema in the age of globalization. Designed to be accessible to students and to provide guidance to lecturers in structuring a course on Irish cinema, Ruth Barton’s book is divided by genre and theme. Chapters cover new areas in Irish film production, such as the creative documentary, animation and the horror film, and revisit key themes, including the representation of history, post-Troubles cinema and Northern Ireland, rural representations and the cinema of the city. Each chapter is followed by the analysis of a short film. Barton’s writing throughout is informed by theories of globalisation, the transnational, cultural trauma and spatiality. One of her key concerns is over questions of gender representation, but equally how the new social structures of Ireland from the Celtic Tiger to today are treated in the films discussed. Irish cinema in the twenty-first century discusses the work of leading filmmakers – Lenny Abrahamson, John Crowley, Neil Jordan, the McDonagh brothers and Jim Sheridan – as straddling both the local and the global industries, with a particular focus on certain films as exemplary case studies.

This book will appeal to third-level students in film studies and Irish studies, academics and those interested in how Irish cinema has developed in the twenty-first century.

Celtic Tiger cinema
Ruth Barton

This chapter examines and analyses the industrial developments, international influences and local productions relating to Irish cinema in the Celtic Tiger period. It considers funding opportunities, specifically in relation to the Irish Film Board, for Irish filmmakers, and comments upon the consequences of the growth of digital film-making during this time. The end of the Troubles and a new perception of Ireland overseas, expressed through cultural product such as Riverdance and chick lit, are linked into altered expectations of what Irishness signifies. Specific points include the rise of a new generation of Irish male film stars, from Colin Farrell to Chris O'Dowd. Barton reviews of the shift in representations by local Irish filmmakers, from films that celebrate the new spaces of globalised Dublin (About Adam and Goldfish Memory) to an accelerating trend that focuses on Dublin as a dangerous space inhabited by a disenfranchised underclass (Intermission and Garage). In addition, the chapter critiques the representation of new Irish immigrants, arguing that their depiction is more to shed light on indigenous Irish identity concerns than to engage with the experiences and expectations of this specific group of individuals.

in From prosperity to austerity
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Ruth Barton

The Introduction considers the question of whether Irish cinema could be described as a transnational cinema, using examples of Irish co-productions, such as The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015). It then provides a critical overview of writing on Irish cinema, covering genre, gender, spatial theory and questions of form.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
Ruth Barton

This chapter discusses the financial opportunities for Irish filmmakers and the various sources of funding. It discusses Irish Film Board policy and tax breaks, and provides a case study of Element Pictures as an exemplary, vertically integrated production company. The chapter raises the question as to whether Irish cinema is an arthouse cinema.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
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Ruth Barton

This chapter examines Ireland’s animation sector, providing a brief history of the development of animation in Ireland before focusing on the two major production companies, Brown Bag Films and Cartoon Saloon. The chapter concludes with analyses of the first two Irish animation feature films: The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore, 2008; co-director, Nora Twomey) and Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, 2014).

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
Ruth Barton

This chapter provides an overview of the new genre of the Irish horror film, tracing its origins to Roger Corman’s Irish studio in Connemara, and discussing its relationship to the Irish Gothic, particularly to Bog Gothic and eco-Gothic. The chapter further considers the genre as highly globalised and focuses on its treatment of woman as Other.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
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Ruth Barton

This chapter discusses the recent growth in documentary making and examines IFB funding policy for documentaries. It questions the use of the term ‘creative documentary’ and positions Irish documentary making in relation to mainstream/auteur equivalents such as the films of Michael Moore. The focus here is on how documentaries document community, particularly urban working-class community. The chapter also considers issues of gender with a detailed examination of Ken Wardrop’s His & Hers (2009). It finishes with a case study of the art documentaries of Pat Collins.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
Ruth Barton

This chapter considers the diminished interest in history films on the part of Irish filmmakers but also the high-profile British filmmakers who have made films about Irish history, including Ken Loach and Stephen Frears. The chapter covers major releases such as The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, 2002) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006) in the context of theories of cultural trauma. The chapter further discusses emigration narratives, including In America (Jim Sheridan, 2002) and Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015). It further considers the use of melodrama as a narrative mode for relating historical events.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
Ruth Barton

This chapter considers the issues that face filmmakers working on stories set in Northern Ireland in the post-Troubles era. Topics include the use of genre, specifically the thriller, and questions of trauma and catharsis. A particular focus is on hunger strike narratives, including Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008). It also provides a production background to filming in Northern Ireland. As in Chapter 5, it considers the use of melodrama as a narrative mode.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
Ruth Barton

This chapter discusses rural and small-town set Irish films. It considers the consequences of the shift in focus from the rural to the urban as a setting for explorations of Irish identity formations. With focused discussions of Lenny Abrahamson’s Garage (2007) and John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary (2014), it looks at how these filmmakers have reimagined the Irish rural from a place of welcome and recuperation to a place of trauma.

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century