From “IRISH FILM IRISH CULTURE” published by An Bord Scannán 2003.
I mean ordinary people ... in a casual way? Well I believe it is from film.
Once, yes, it was through literature but now its through film ... what my relatives in the U.S. knew about Ireland before they visited was what they had seen in THE COMMITMENTS. They never bothered much before with O'Casey or Behan but since their taste for North Side Dublin has been developed by celluloid perhaps they might yet.
This example of national and cultural awareness through film holds not just for Irish Americans but also for all nations and people ... so Ireland should be putting its images out there through film. So why aren't we or at least why aren't we not doing it more. Well maybe it's because just as there was resistance to O'Casey's representation of inner city Dublin there is a reluctance on the powers that be to finance films which portray the seamier side of Irish life. After all when lady Gregory launched the movement to put Irish plays on an Irish stage which O'Casey was part of - we shortly afterwards had a revolution, I'm sure the powers that be are aware of that too, if the political colouring that has gone on in RTÉ in the past is anything to go by.
If the detractors are not the powers that be, there are the hurlers on the ditch who say it’s not worth our while to produce film as we are too poor and too small. But its odd the historical reason that Ireland is poor and small has also made it culturally strong with a foot 'n both camps of our two film producing neighbours the U.S. and the U.K.
Like Ireland, Canada is a small industry sandwiched between these two giants. When Grierson founded the Canadian Film Board In 1940 he was aware of how much Canadians were influenced by the vast amount of movies coming up from the U.S. After all Canadians are Americans too and they could relate to much of subject matter, especially the popular Western. On top of that there was the British imports, many features were made in the U.K. at that time and the British connection was strong.
It's not surprising therefore the Canadian Film Board, when up against these big feature producing countries, became famous for its short films. Indeed in particular its animation shorts - animation is an intense art form and can often carry more images and more messages in say five minutes than its live action cousin.
Indeed even after just ten years, comparisons are being made between the animations produced by the Irish Film Board's Frameworks scheme and the Internationally acclaimed body of work produced by the Canadian Film Board.
So looking at Ireland you can see the same pressures that faced Canada 60 years ago, just look at the number of American feature films which fill almost every screen in the country; and then there is television in Britain, producing top quality high brow and low brow programming and broadcasting it straight here. Remember in all this the bottom line for Canada - a bilingual country like us - is for cultural recognition. That must be our goal too ... while the globe is shrinking, culturally diversity has more value ... it puts you on an ever decreasing map, it gives your country a reference point for the world to notice you, to listen to you, trade with you, learn from you and teach you.
If lady Gregory was alive now, she and Yeats would be founding 'The Abbey Film Studios' (no doubt with help from Bord Scannán) and Ireland and the world would be richer for it.