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Film board defends Irish film in wake of controversial comments by Calvary director

John Michael McDonagh said that Calvary was “not an Irish film” and was critical of other Irish films.

CALVARY DIRECTOR JOHN Michael McDonagh has come under fire for comments he made in which he distanced himself from Irish films and stated that he didn’t find other Irish films to be “technically accomplished” or “intelligent”.

The interview, given to Associated Press back in August, also features McDonagh disown Calvary’s status as an Irish film.

Like, I’m not a big fan of Irish movies. I don’t find them to be technically that accomplished and I don’t find them that intelligent. I’m trying to get away from the description of the movie as an Irish film.It’s not an Irish film. It’s just set in Ireland with lots of Irish characters.

Source: Associated Press/YouTube

Speaking of Irish audiences, McDonagh said that audiences “know that lots of Irish films aren’t very good” and said that they are “hesitant about going to see them”.

When you’re making a film, you’re trying to convince the Irish audience, ‘No, it’s not like all those terrible Irish movies you’ve seen before.’

The comments, which were first noted by Evoke.ie back in August, surfaced again last night. Both fans and figures from the film industry alike have taken issue with McDonagh’s statements, with many noting the hypocrisy of accepting funding from the Irish Film Board, while categorising it as “not an Irish film”.

Others supported aspects of McDonagh’s comments, though.

According to the Irish Film Board’s website, John Michael McDonagh has received over €1.7 million in funding from the Irish Film Board for both The Guard and Calvary.

Calvary was awarded a €1 million production loan in the third quarter of 2012, while The Guard received a €600,000 production loan in 2009, as well as €125,000 funding from a Regional Support Fund.

Both films were shot on location in Ireland, boasted a primarily Irish cast and employed Irish crew. Calvary earned €1.6 million at the Irish box office, while The Guard took in more than €4 million.

When asked for comment, James Hickey, chief executive of the Irish Film Board, did not address McDonagh’s comments, but did stand behind the board’s support of McDonagh’s films. He told DailyEdge.ie:

’Calvary’ is a great Irish film, telling an exciting and challenging Irish story with Irish creative talent in front and behind the camera. Central to ‘Calvary’ is the extraordinary performance from Brendan Gleeson and the high quality of work showcased by Irish cast and crew.
The IFB supported both films which are culturally Irish stories featuring Irish talent throughout, and is happy to have done so. The excellent work of Irish cast and crew has contributed to making ‘Calvary’ and ‘The Guard’ the high quality films they are, which have been seen by audiences in Ireland and all over the world.

Furthermore, he defended Irish films as a whole,  name-checking films like The Stag and Frank, as well as upcoming releases such as Glassland and Brooklyn.

The Irish film industry continues to grow from strength to strength, with Irish creative talent gaining international recognition at the highest levels of the industry at all levels of production. Filmmakers and the creative talent behind Irish films such as ‘The Stag’, ‘Frank’, ‘What Richard Did’, ‘The Secret of Kells’, ‘Pilgrim Hill’, ‘The Hardy Bucks Movie’, ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘The Summit’ amongst many others are being recognised across the globe for their excellent work.
Exciting upcoming Irish films to look forward to include ‘Brooklyn’ directed by John Crowley with Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson, ‘Glassland’ directed by Gerard Barrett starring Jack Reynor and the animated feature film ‘Song of The Sea’ directed by Tomm Moore.

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Amy O'Connor

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