Irish Film Institute – Joe Malenchini

1 Dec

On Friday, I attended an FIE-Sponsored mobile seminar at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar. The IFI was discussed in class as being a national body that supports the Irish film industry and attempts to preserve its past. At the IFI, we were met by Brendan Balfe – a former broadcaster on RTE radio for several decades. Brendan talked us through the history of radio programming in Ireland. His point of view was passionate and insightful, since broadcasting had been his way of life for many years.

Irish radio had its origins several years after the advent of radio in other nations such as the United States and the UK. This was in the early years of the Irish Republic and there was only one radio station available to listeners. Over time, the programming evolved from news stories to the inclusion of music and later to the addition of interactive shows. Interactive radio was pioneered in Ireland, with the first radio quiz taking place on Irish radio. Despite having only one channel of RTE for many years, Irish radio still remained at the forefront of radio innovation.

After Brendan finished informing us about his involvement in radio in Ireland, we learned about the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and how it works to fund Irish projects that would otherwise not be funded by large corporations. One of these projects is an Irish film called “The Summit.” We were able to see this film at the IFI and it was extremely well made for an independent film. Using only money from fundraising, RTE, the BBC, the IFI, and from the BAI, this film depicted a disaster on K2 in 2008. In this disaster, 11 climbers lost their lives on the world’s second-highest and most dangerous peak. One of these people was Ger McDonnell, the first Irish climber to reach the summit of K2. Ger died from falling ice and snow while trying to help a group of injured Korean climbers.

The film took a stance of exposing the truth about the events of the disaster because there was much controversy regarding conflicting reports by the media following the tragedy. The director, Nick Ryan, wanted to demonstrate the truth of the events that took place on the mountain, but major corporations would not back his idea. Nick himself came to the IFI to talk to us after the movie ended and he discussed the role that the IFI and BAI played in funding his project. He had to fund the film independently, which is where the mission of the IFI came in to assist him. Without organizations like the IFI and BAI, Irish films like Nick’s would not have been made. Irish cinema has been slowed down by the austerity measures in the past five years, but thanks to organizations like the IFI there has been increased preservation of past films and there will continue to be funding allocated towards the Irish film industry both now and in the future.

Joe Malenchini

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