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Ireland: Europe holds key to movie success (March 2008)


Ireland needs to stop looking up to Britain and become more European if we are to shine on the international movie scene, according to the chief executive officer of the Irish Film Board.

The Film Board's boss Simon Perry said Ireland's old habit of depending on our British neighbours is holding us back from our own success.

In an interview with FilmIreland magazine, the CEO advised that we need to develop our own identity.

Said Perry: "If there is something I think I can identify as having hampered Irish cinema, it is its very close dependence on the UK.
"Right from the moment I came to the Film Board, I have been saying we have to look beyond this big island and instead to look at the continent and understand the opportunities there," he added.
"I hope Ireland can gain confidence -- confidence is the key word -- by feeling that if our European neighbours can make films that have a clear identity and have something new to say, and break new ground, then Ireland can join them."

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He said the dependence on the UK for distribution is also a problem.
"There is this wicked set-up in Ireland, the colonial relationship with the UK, which is abysmal, it is appalling and has kept Irish distribution poor for many years.
"One of the nicest things that happened recently was the emergence of Element, an Irish-owned and managed distribution company."

Mr Perry said we could follow the lead of Austria and make films in our own right.
"Austria is a good example for the Irish. It has the same sense of living in the shadow of a bigger country and having a strange colonial relationship in terms of distributors."

He said producers have a responsibility to steer Irish cinema the right way.
"I felt some producers were leading Irish cinema in the wrong direction, in other words trying to go head to head with Hollywood.
"Producers need to make as close a connection as possible to partners in Europe."

Perry said that the international success of the low-budget film Once [+see also:
film profile
-- which won the Oscar for Best Original Song with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's song "Falling Slowly" at the Oscars last week -- was a sign we are coming into our own. He also praised such films as Adam and Paul and Garage [+see also:
film review
interview: Ed Guiney
interview: Jean-François Deveau
interview: Lenny Abrahamson
film profile
, by director Lenny Abrahamson.

"Once is such a phenomenon. It has such character. Such a tiny, tiny film, but it has a way of weaving music into it and it is all set in Dublin."

He said on the international circuit, Irish film is now seen more as being more than just about Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan.

In the same magazine, director Kirsten Sheridan -- daughter of Jim -- said the secret of success is Irish people going to see Irish films.
Kirsten, who directed August Rush, said: "Why do people have to go abroad and get some stamp of approval from the US before we will go and see a film?"

John Carney, director of Once, said we need a film scene in this country. "I come from music, which was vibey. There was a really active scene and healthy competition but it's just not happening in film in this country."

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