5. BLOODY SUNDAY: A DERRY DIARY
This is yet another documentary that I saw at the Stranger Than Fiction documentary festival in Dublin in 2006. It follows the survivors and victims' families throughout the ongoing enquiry into the infamous events of one day in the early 70s when a group of British paras in Northern Ireland opened fire on a civil rights march, giving rise to one of the grimmest periods in the recent history of the troubles.
The film, made by one of the eyewitnesses herself, is not totally biased against the British - there is an acknowledgement that an IRA gunman was present and opened fire, and there is a hint that perhaps her memory of the events is not as clear as she thinks - but on the whole doesn't leave too much doubt as to which side its on, and understandably so. I'm not about to try and start a political argument here, but suffice to say the Brits do not come out of this looking good and probably with good reason.
As yet I don't believe it's had much of an outing outside of festivals and one or two TV appearances (not in this country that I know of) but it really deserves a wider audience. It was stated that when the results of the enquiry are known (expected this year) that further information will be recorded. One only hopes that when it does, someone picks the film up to distribute to the wider audience it deserves.
3. THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY
2006 was a good year for the Irish in the Freakpit, wasn't it? Ken Loach's drama following the Anglo-Irish war of Independence and two brothers who take up opposite sides in the ensuing civil war picked up the top prize in Cannes but that didn't stop it courting controversy in the British press, some of whom seemed to think it was nothing more than IRA propaganda.
The truth is that it's a gripping historical drama that is as good as anything of Loach's that I've seen, regardless of where your political leanings lie. Yes, it makes the British look like a bloodthirsty bunch of monsters but here's a newsflash for you - the British did commit countless atrocities in Ireland, so why not show them? The detractors seem to have completely missed the point that first of all it's historically accurate and, secondly, that it's not as if Loach makes the Irish out to be all sweetness and innocence.
In truth, most of the conflict arises not from the Irish fighting the English but from the Irish against Irish civil war that followed. This means nothing to some people however, but then the sort of people who would trash this film because of its political nature are probably the same sort of people who refused to watch BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN because it's "totally gay".