Look back with cando

Pi­o­neer­ing Ir­ish fem­i­nist film-maker Pat Mur­phy is be­ing feted with an IFI ret­ro­spec­tive. She talks to Tara Brady about how the rad­i­cal jour­ney con­tin­ues – but in a new di­rec­tion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

FILM-MAKER Pat Mur­phy emerged at a pe­cu­liar mo­ment in the odd, hig­gledy-pig­gledy his­tory of Ir­ish film. A grad­u­ate of the Ul­ster Col­lege of Art and De­sign, Mur­phy stud­ied un­der noted fem­i­nist the­o­rists such as Laura Mul­vey to emerge with an MA in Film and Tele­vi­sion from Lon­don’s Royal Col­lege of Art.

The pi­o­neer­ing Mur­phy is, ac­cord­ingly, of­ten writ­ten up as a dis­ci­ple of the old-school re­duc­tion, which holds that the cin­e­matic ap­pa­ra­tus of clas­si­cal Hol­ly­wood in­vari­ably ob­jec­ti­fies the fe­male.

It’s a neat the­ory but it’s far too small a pi­geon­hole for Mur­phy’s post-Marx­ist, postRepub­li­can, post-Ir­ish, post-Joyce oeu­vre.

“Laura Mul­vey was a huge pres­ence when I was at col­lege,” nods the di­rec­tor. “Like most film-mak­ers my age, I had read her essay on visual plea­sure and nar­ra­tive cinema and, as with most film-mak­ers my age, it be­came a kind of touchstone. She’s a phe­nom­e­nal fig­ure, but if I had re­ally been her dis­ci­ple, I would have made very dif­fer­ent kinds of films to the ones I did make.”

Sure enough, in the late 1970s, Mur­phy found even more rad­i­cal modes of think­ing across the At­lantic when she be­came the first Euro­pean to spend a schol­ar­ship year at the Whitney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art.

Her plan was to learn a trade and train as a cin­e­matog­ra­pher. New York, how­ever, sent her off down a road less trav­elled. What’s this? A lady di­rec­tor?

“In New York, I started to work with other film-mak­ers that got me fired up,” re­calls Mur­phy. “Be­fore that, I had never con­nected movies as be­ing some­thing I could do. In Eng­land at the time, the the­ory was rad­i­cal, but com­ing from Ire­land it felt a lit­tle bit re­pressed and stuffy."

Re­pressed and stuffy would never have suited Mur­phy. En­er­getic and pos­sessed with de­light­fully demon­stra­tive fin­gers, to­day we catch up with the film-maker be­hind Maeve, Anne Devlin and Nora in the Ir­ish Film In­sti­tute, the site of an up­com­ing Mur­phy ret­ro­spec­tive and one-time home to a poster for Anne Devlin – long­time pun­ters will surely re­mem­ber the quad that dec­o­rated the es­tab­lish­ment when it was still known as the Ir­ish Film Cen­tre.

“When the ar­chive called me about a ret­ro­spec­tive, I won­dered if three fea­ture films was enough to jus­tify one,” she smiles. “But I do get quite a lot of emails from peo­ple try­ing to track them down. The only place to see them is in the ar­chive in here. It’s my own fault re­ally. Peo­ple now are more clued in to the life of their films af­ter the cinema. I never

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.