The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is still a few months off. And while it is always a treat for the casual and hardcore cinephile, it is not the only way for Irish movie-lovers to slake their hunger for exciting new and undiscovered films.
Now entering its fourth year, the Dun Laoghaire Underground Film Festival takes place this week, from Thursday the 12th to Sunday the 15th. Showing largely limited or unreleased films, these hidden gems will play in the Pavilion Theatre and represent the efforts of independent film makers in Ireland. These cinematic creations are very often directed and produced outside of the Irish Film Board, with a limited budget, and tend to operate outside of the Irish film industry’s vision of ‘What makes an Irish film?’
One particular entry into this years festival, Seamus Hanly’s BenD, encapsulates this idea, taking ‘Irishness’ to strange new places.
A dark noir-ish fantasy, with elements of Dr. Who, Seamus insists that his film is Irish, but not traditionally Irish, and preferably viewed outside the realm of geography.
Many of his influences come from non-Irish sources, and the film certainly seems to have international appeal. As well as the Underground film festival, BenD is also playing this Tuesday, the 10th, in the Apostrophe Art Gallery, in Brooklyn, New York. Bone-idle caught up with him recently to ask, just how do you make an ‘Irish’ film, how personal a journey BenD was for him and, of course, how video-games affected the production process.
At the same time, I don’t think the film is necessarily set in Ireland.
What other major influences affected the making of the film?
Any other influences I can think of would be from other films. There’s definitely inspiration from directors like John Carpenter and David Lynch. I think the films Near Dark and Donnie Darko definitely factor in there too.
Also, the whole no-budget production ethic of the whole project was influenced by stuff like Clerks, El Mariachi and Primer. There’s probably a whole tonne of other stuff I’m forgetting right now.
This is by no means an original thing to do but some years ago when I was first beginning to think seriously as a filmmaker, I became obsessed with films that had a very specific aesthetic. Ones that had really good 80s type scores (like The NeverEnding Story) but also had this engrossing dark atmosphere (like Near Dark). Basically films that are Blade Runner or are inspired by Blade Runner.
I can’t think of any Super Nintendo games that I grew up playing that are all that similar to this game-FILM! I mean Film! I do, however, tend to listen to a lot of video game music on its own, without playing the game. Anything that’s at all Gothic or eerie tends to just sound really great to me.
(Editor’s Note: This writer would have said IX, but whatever)
Just one more question before I let you go Seamus. Now that BenD is wrapped up and garnering attention…..what’s next?
Tickets are priced at €6.It is also available to buy on DVD from www.enlightenmentpictures.net, for less than €10.