FOCUS- Screened on the sidelines of the British film festival, entirely dialogued in Gaelic, this portrait of a little girl entrusted to distant cousins embodies the revival of Irish cinema.
From our journalist in Dinard,
Despite its name, the British film festival in Dinard also welcomes new hopefuls of Irish cinema with open arms. The 33e edition of the event which ended last Sunday enabled film buffs to discover a nugget, The Quiet Girl by Colm Bairead. In only a first film, the 41-year-old director embodies the new wave of the seventh art of the Emerald Isle. And did not leave a dry eye in the room.
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This rebirth goes through the promotion of the Irish language. Tale of an unloved childhood in rural Ireland of the 80s not yet awakened by the Celtic tiger, The Quiet Girl has a majority of dialogue in Gaelic. That didn’t stop it from prancing to the top of the UK box office.
An apology for compassion
Taken from the news the three lights of her compatriot Claire Keegan, A Quiet Girl follows a nine-year-old girl, neglected by her siblings and her farming parents. To avoid reprimands and mockery, Cáit learned to make herself invisible, to hide. Her father, a lover of pints and extramarital affairs, nicknamed her in rare moments of interest “the wanderer”. To relieve her pregnant mother for the umpteenth time, Cáit is sent to a distant cousin of her mother. She will stay there for a summer and help her “adoptive parents” with the work of their own farm. Eibhlín greets Cáit with all the motherly affection the little girl has ever known. Her husband Sean is more distant.
In this new home, where Cáit blossoms like a tree in spring, there are no secrets, insists Eibhlín. Although… Colm Bairead signs a minimalist film in the tradition of his model, the American filmmaker Kelly Reichardt. All in silence and looks. “Claire Keegan’s text touched me a lot with its purity and says a lot about the men and fathers of my country”, underlines the Irishman.
To give life to these intimate unspoken words, he chose the ancestral language of the island: Gaelic. “This film is not propelled by its plot which is just online – a little girl spends her summer vacation with relatives – but by emotion. In times like these, it takes rather few words than a torrent of words., agrees the one who always remains at the height of a child and has found the rare pearl in the person of the little beginner actress Catherine Clinch. The teenager won the Irish Caesar for best actress at 13.
Rain of awards and festival tour
This is not the only trophy won by A Quiet Girl, awarded from its first festival at the Berlinale. Chosen by Ireland to represent it at the Oscars in the best foreign language film category, The Quiet Girl is for the moment part of the titles submitted, considered as well placed to pass the bar of the preselections. After Dinard, Colm Bairead went directly to the Athens festival then to that of Busan in South Korea. The forties will spend a good part of November in the United States to show his film.
What hope to give a face to Celtic cinema. In Dinard, the filmmaker asked his interlocutors who were their favorite Irish directors. Among the most frequent answers Peter Mullan (The Magdalene sisters) and Alan Parker (Angela’s ashes). Two directors of 100% British Irish tragedies! French film buffs will quickly be able to form an opinion. The Quiet Girl hits theaters in early 2023.
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The Quiet Girl, the Irish film that capsized Dinard and the Oscars