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Adaptation Film Weekend: 23rd-25th September

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Wordspark

ADRIAN WHITE

ADAPTATION is a weekend of films celebrating the relationship of literature and cinema. Presented by Bandit Films in association with the Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim.

Everybody has a favourite book for which the film version didn’t quite add up, a film they love about which they remain ignorant or indifferent to its origins in a novella, a short story or a novel. A century or more after the invention of cinema around half of all screen dramas still originate in literary works. The signs are there in recent Irish drama, whether it is Sally Rooney’s Normal People or this year’s cinema box office and critical success An Cailín Ciúin (which originated in Claire Keegan’s award-winning novella, Foster). Irish literature is strong and has deeper roots than Irish cinema so it is logical that Irish filmmakers would draw from this resource.

This reliance of cinema on literature is international but it is not an easy relationship. A book and a film have common facets in story and character, but adaptation from the written word to the screen image doesn’t always fulfil expectations. Adaptations are a route to a film or a drama series that producers – more than directors arguably – pursue, to build on the existing success of a literary work or to “pick up” the rights to a book which might not have hit with readers but which offers plenty of raw material if placed in the hands of the right screenwriter.

These are the waters in which the newly revived Adaptation Film Weekend (which previously ran in Leitrim between 2005-2012) will swim. Adaptation has focused on many outstanding Irish writers over the years, commencing in 2005 with a celebration of John McGahern, shortly before the writer’s death. The various annual events involved – starting with McGahern – an exploration which turned up many hidden gems which then found a home in the Irish Film Archive. Edna O’Brien (2007) too was a revelation in the scale of the screen work flowing from her labours. Bernard MacLaverty (2010), the writer of Cal and Lamb, was celebrated as a powerful novelist but was also revealed to us as a natural screenwriter. John Le Carré had not yet applied for his Irish citizenship when he became the focus in 2011, but he was no less a fitting and gracious subject.

Adaptation 2022
In its revised form Adaptation will continue to focus on an individual writer while broadening the programme to look at contemporary work.

Brian Moore in Focus
Covid may have ruled out a celebration in his centenary year of 2021 but Brian Moore (1921-1999), the Belfast writer of twenty novels, is long overdue a revisit. For our opening film, we have tracked down a recently remastered version of the film Black Robe (1991) from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. The film will be presented as an open air screening in Manorhamilton Castle, a crusader-like ruin built in the same decade – the 1630s – in which Moore sets his story of Jesuit missionaries venturing into the vast Canadian interior. Moore also wrote the screenplay for the film which Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy) directed. Bruce Beresford will provide an introduction to this screening. Novelist Colm Tóibín provides us with a two-thousand word essay on the Irish and Canadian roots of Moore’s quintessentially Canadian novel Black Robe.

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (which Moore wrote when he was in his mid 20s) and Catholics are Irish-themed adaptations which will be discussed as will his Canadian debut The Luck of Ginger Coffee – by Patricia Craig, author of Brian Moore: A Biography with Dr. Keith Hopper of Atlantic Technological University’s Writing and Literature programme on the Saturday afternoon in the Glens Centre, the main venue for the weekend’s events.

Found in Translation
Side-by-side with this focus, Adaptation screens two notable Irish language feature films of the past year – the aforementioned An Cailín Ciúin and Foscadh (Shelter), an ambitious reimagining of Dónal Ryan’s debut novel The Thing About December, in which director Seán Breathnach not only relocates the story from English to Irish, from the midlands to Conamara, but introduces into the adaptation an additional story-line with particular contemporary resonance. Seán Breathnach will discuss the adaptation post-screening with writer and publisher Prin Duignan.

In a similar vein Tom Collins’ Irish language Kings is an adaptation of Jimmy Murphy’s celebrated stage-play Kings of the Kilburn High Road. Collins recently passed away after a prolonged illness and before his time, so this screening is a tribute to a filmmaker and to a film that marks an important milestone in his productive career and in the development of Irish-language cinema.

Poetry into Film features the work of Sligo and Leitrim based poets Donal Conaty, Alice Lyons and Stephen Murphy and filmmakers Orla McHardy, Eva Martin and Johnny Gogan. Classic Authors J.M. Synge and James Joyce receive new adaptations. An Encounter (from the James Joyce Dubliners short story of the same title), is adapted by writer Mark O’Halloran and director Kelly Campbell and In the Shadow of the Glen, a darkly comic short feature, sees Jocelyn Clarke adapting the Synge play and Niall Henry, best known as Artistic Director of Sligo-based Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, directing his debut film with the strongly visual sense that has characterised his theatre work over the past thirty years.

An important aspect of Adaptation is the involvement of the talent behind these different productions. Those attending will include Jimmy Murphy, Donal O’Kelly (Kings), Gary Lydon (An Encounter), Siobhán Dooney (Korea), Carrie Crowley (An Cailin Ciúin), Niall Henry, Sandra O’Malley, John Carty and Ciarán McCauley (In The Shadow of the Glen), Joe O’Byrne and Cathal Black (Korea).

This year’s Adaptation closes where it started in 2005 with a screening of Korea, featuring Andrew Scott (Killing Eve, Sherlock) in one of his first screen roles, an adaptation by screenwriter Joe O’Byrne and director Cathal Black from the three-page John McGahern short story of the same title.

Joe O’Byrne will present a booked-out screenwriting course over the three days of Adaptation as one of a number of events aimed at film practitioners.

Adaptation is programmed by filmmaker and author Johnny Gogan whose company Bandit Films have been based in Leitrim since 1997.

For full details see www.adaptation.ie
For Booking see here.

Adaptation is presented by Bandit Films in association with The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton and supported by Leitrim Arts Office, Creative Heartlands and Screen Skills Ireland.

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