In 1992, the Cultural Committee of the St. Patrick's Society of Montréal received a proposal from film-buff Anthony Kirby that Montréal needed an Irish film series. The committee agreed to fund the wildly hysterical plans of Lynn Doyle, Patrick Vallely and several other miscreants, to form and run a film society devoted to showing Irish Films.
The name Ciné Gael Montréal was proposed and scheduling and film selection started, with outside assistance coming from Fr. Marc Gervais SJ, Peter Rist, Ben Queenan and most importantly, the film archives and screening facilities at Concordia University. Early in 1993, we screened our first film.
On our 20th anniversary, when we asked our members to tell us the film from our past seasons that we should show again, it was that first film.
Read more about our history,
written by Dana Hearne on our 10th
and our 15th anniversary, as well as John Griffin's
article from the Gazette,
written on our 20
100 min - Dir: Matt Bissonnette; Screenplay By: Matt Bissonnette, inspired by the songs of Leonard Cohen with: Gabriel Byrne, Jessica Paré, Brian Gleeson, and Carolina Bartczak
:: Guest Speaker:
Matt Bissonnette is a Montréal film director and writer.
Bissonnette and his childhood friend Steven Clark collaborated as codirectors and cowriters of the 2002 film Looking for Leonard. On his own, Bissonnette followed up with the films Who Loves the Sun in 2006, Passenger Side in 2009, and Death of a Ladies' Man in 2020.
Bissonnette's films frequently use the literary or musical work of Leonard Cohen as a thematic motif; Looking for Leonard centred in part on a character's fantasies of escaping her life to run away with Cohen after reading his novel Beautiful Losers, while both Passenger Side and Death of a Ladies' Man use Cohen's music in their soundtracks.
He also works in advertising as a commercial director, and published the novel Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock in 2008. He is the brother of actor Joel Bissonnette, and was married to actress Molly Parker from 2002 to 2016.
ORIGINAL-CIN: Matt, you are no stranger to Leonard Cohen’s work. What was the inspiration for, Death of A Ladies Man?
MATT BISSONETTE: It really sprang out of the narrative and the things we wanted to talk about, which is essentially bridging the gap between fantasy and reality or between desire and reality. I think that's something that Cohen, in a very meaningful but also humorous way, struggled with or labored with for his entire career. So it just seemed natural for me to take this route. Also, being from Montreal I have that hometown affiliation to Cohen that's been with me ever since I was a kid. [read balance of interview] - OriginalCIN [Bonnie Laufer]
"Cohen's songs do what they're meant to, adding insight, beauty and melancholy to this quietly potent blend of comedy and drama."
- Concrete Playground [Sarah Ward]
"Byrne's most remarkable achievement lies in the fact he never allows Samuel's incurable self-absorption
to become boring."
- Sydney Morning Herald [Sandra Hall]
Samuel O'Shea, a university professor of poetry, exuberant womanizer and enthusiastic drinker has seen better days.
His second marriage is ending, and his wife and children are at their wits' end with him. More disturbingly, he has begun seeing things:
Frankenstein sidles up to the bar and strangers sing and dance to Leonard Cohen tunes.
His much missed father, who died when Samuel was just a boy, pops up for chats. At first Samuel thinks it could be the drink, or perhaps he's just crazy or over-imaginative, but then learns he has a brain tumor.
Reflecting on the life he has lived, Samuel retreats to his family shack in remote Ireland, where he begins work on that great novel he always meant to write, and generally take stock.
Surprisingly, or not, he meets and falls in love with a local woman, who is full of unexpected ideas. All this leads Samuel to an utterly unforeseeable happy ending. [RottenTomatoes]
Scott MacLeod is a multimedia artist in the truest sense of the term
(click for MacLeod bio) .
Mike Burns is a celebrated storyteller, and the voice we hear in MacLeod's animation.
Scott is a critically acclaimed painter and photographer whose work is in many permanent collections, including that of the National Gallery of Canada; he is also a performing songwriter and recording artist.
Engaging his lifelong interest in history, with support from the National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker Assistance Program and a Main Film Grant, in 2009 MacLeod added filmmaker to his list of endeavors with the release of After the war with Hannelore - A Berliner War Child’s Testimony from 1945 to 1989.
Matthew Barlow holds a PhD in History and Irish Studies from Concordia University.
A native Montréaler, he published Griffintown: Identity & Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood with UBC Press in 2017. It won the Canadian Historical Association’s CLIO Award for Best Book in Québec History in 2018.
He is currently Dean of Humanities at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Griffintown: A People's History - Episode 1
(23:42 mins animation with film) Written and Directed by Dr. Matthew Barlow and G. Scott MacLeod
"The Death and Life of Griffintown:21 Stories is MacLeod's visualization of the stories written and told by
Irish historian Matthew Barlow. They were inspired by historic sites, some of which are no longer,
in the southwestern area of the city still known as Griffintown, though now more famous for
upscale restaurants and condos than the working class."
These original 21 short films created by Barlow and MacLeod have been remolded into a four episode series of films. Tonight we'll see the premiere of the first episode, Indigenous Lands, First Settlers and Irish Immigration.
In his four-part series, Griffintown – A People's History, director G. Scott MacLeod films noted author and historian Dr. Matthew Barlow on location as he recounts the fascinating social history of Griffintown, a once-thriving industrial neighbourhood of predominantly working class Irish and French Canadians just south of downtown Montreal.
Episode 1 of the series, Indigenous Lands, First Settlers and Irish Immigration, explores the birth of the community from its habitation by indigenous peoples through French and Irish settlement, the building of the Lachine Canal and the accompanying industrial boom, and the summer of sorrow in 1847 when 6,000 Irish immigrants died of typhus at Windmill Point.
The Irishman - Child of the Gael
(20 mins, animation) Dir: G. Scott MacLeod, narrated by Mike Burns
Our narrator Sean recounts his maternal and paternal ancestors' dramatic immigrant experiences in Canada
from the 1800s to the early 20th century. Fleeing desperate conditions in Ireland, survival in the new world
is a struggle of a different sort, involving quarantine, isolation and backbreaking employment, building the Victoria Bridge,
constructing the railways and canals that will open Canada's frontiers to trade and settlement.
Montreal filmmaker G. Scott MacLeod fuses rich pencil animation with new digital media to provide a deeply moving depiction of an iconic early Canadian immigrant experience.
Written and narrated by Mike Burns, a celebrated Montreal storyteller, here is the story of thousands of Irish immigrants to this country who arrived to unthinkable conditions and who went on to build the very roads and railways that made prosperity possible.
Q&A after films
Moderated by a team from CTV, Randy Renaud and Christine Long
Annual Short Film Evening :: Guest Speakers:
Heather and Kester, both Concordia Canadian Irish Studies alumni, are our programmers for our Short Films evening; have been for a long time. This is as big a job as programming the remainder of our season ...in non-COVID years!
The Vasectomy Doctor (2018)
(Documentary, 11 mins) Dir: Paul Webster
Dr. Andrew Rynne was the first doctor to perform vasectomies in Ireland. Dr. Rynne continued to challenge the laws governing sexuality - laws imposed by the Church and State. In 1990 a man entered his surgery and shot him.
Best Short, Audience Choice, Dingle International Film Festival
Best Documentary, Louth Film Festival
Audience Award, IFI Stranger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival
Best Irish Short, OFFline Film Festival 2019
Best Documentary, Clones Film Festival 2019
Best Short Film, Waterford Film Festival
Audience Award, Chicago Irish Film Festival 2020
Rip to the Rescue (2019)
(SciFi, 15 mins) Dir: Paudie Baggott
In the post-apocalyptic Irish midlands, an overconfident American jet pilot tries to rescue a beautiful young woman from her domineering Mammy - but 'round here, getting involved with family can be deadly.
Best Cinematography in a Short Film, Galway Film Fleadh
Best Short Film, Waterford Film Festival
Best First Time Filmmaker, Dark Hedges International Horror Film Festival
Best in Mayo, Mayo International Film Festival
White Horse (2019) (Drama, 10 mins)
Dir: Shaun O'Connor, screenwriter Paul Cahill
1970s Ireland: A scared and confused young girl enters a phone booth and rings home. Her parents are waiting for the call, and we soon discover a hidden truth.
Best Irish Short, Kerry Film Festival
Best Overall, Richard Harris International Film Festival
Best International Short, Underground Film Festival
The Wiremen (2018)
(Animation, 9 mins)
Dir: Jessica Petterson, screenwriter Paul Cahill
When electricity is first introduced to the home of a rural Irish family, the boundaries between folklore and the real world begin to fray.
Best Animated Short, Irish Animation Awards
Best Irish Short, Dublin Animation Film Festival
Best Animation, Galway Film Fleadh
Best Short, Scéil Eile
(Irish language/Horror, 17 mins) Dir: Jack Reynor
Inspired by ancient Irish mythology and traditional Japanese folk tales, Bainne is set in the last year of the Great Famine in Ireland. A grieving farmhand's life takes an unexpected turn when he encounters a ghostly thief and is led on a journey of hope.
Best First Short Drama, Galway Film Fleadh
Best Cinematography, Magnolia Independent Film Festival
Best Short, Oxford Film Festival
Archie's Bat (2019)
(Animation, 3 mins) Dir: Shannon Egan
Archie's Bat is a story about a lonely young boy who is surprisingly given the chance at friendship when his path crosses with an injured bat. However, Archie will learn that not only is a bat not the best play mate, but there's responsibility in caring for another living being.
Best First Short Animation Award, Galway Film Fleadh
(Drama, 12 mins) Dir: Virginia Gilbert
A father takes his daughters on an impromptu day out to the seaside with unsettling consequences.
Best Irish Film, Fastnet Film Festival
The Yellow Dress (2020)
(Drama, 15 mins) Dir: Deborah Grimes
To help her mother regain her joie de vivre after breast cancer and to cushion the blow of her father's news, sassy Aisling, 14, sets her up on what she hopes will be the perfect date but when the date shows up with his teenage son in tow, things take an unexpected turn.
Best International Short, Imagine This: Women's Film Festival NY
Best Original Score, Kerry International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award, Chicago Irish Film Festival
Best Director, Cine Circle Festival, London
Best Actor, Disappear here Film Festival, Donegal
My Father Taught me to Swing an Axe (2020)
(Personal, 1 min) Dir: Rory Fitzpatrick
A boy explores generational corruption in Northern Ireland by recounting how his father taught him to swing an axe.
Best 1 Minute Film, Galway Film Fleadh