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Film, History & Education Project

Documentary film, public history and education in Northern Ireland

AHRC funded 2013-2014

Principal Investigator: Dr Fearghal McGarry (School of History and Anthropology)

Consultant: Professor Desmond Bell (Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, NCAD)

Researcher: Dr Jennie Carlsten (History and Film Studies)

External collaboration with: Teaching Divided Histories, The Nerve Centre; Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013DoubleBand Productions; TG4; Belfast Film Festival

This AHRC-funded knowledge-transfer project builds on the partnerships that emerged from the 2011-2012 AHRC-funded project, Documentary film and the public communication of historical knowledge in Northern Ireland. Through new and expanded partnerships with educators, cultural organisations, media-producers and broadcasters, this follow-on project explores how documentary film can facilitate historical understanding in a post-conflict context.

The earlier project consisted of an interdisciplinary collaboration between a historian and a documentary film-maker, culminating in the production and exhibition of the feature-length documentary, The Enigma of Frank Ryan (Desmond Bell, 2012). The academic partnership of Dr Fearghal McGarry and Professor Desmond Bell will continue to maximize the knowledge transfer impact of the Frank Ryan film through dissemination at festivals, televisual broadcast and DVD distribution, as well as through the production of complementary interpretative and interactive educational resources.

The current project also facilitates the pre-production of a second feature-length documentary film, Lost Revolution: the Abbey Theatre and 1916, based on the research of Dr McGarry. The film, which will be developed in partnership with DoubleBand Productions, will address issues arising from public commemoration of the centenary of the Easter Rising. It examines the lives of the Abbey’s 1916 rebels to tell a timely story about the tensions between the Abbey theatre and Irish nationalism, the complex relationship between culture and revolution, and the gulf between the radical aspirations of the rebels and the conservative outcome of their struggle.

Our project extends beyond film production and exhibition to consider broader issues relating to public engagement with history. The team will work in partnership with the Nerve Centre’s EU-funded educational initiative, ‘Teaching Divided Histories’, to provide resources and curriculum materials for secondary education in Ireland, north and south. The 'Teaching Divided Histories' project brings together post-primary teachers from schools across Northern Ireland and the border counties to develop and pilot a range of innovative education programmes that use film, digital photography, animation, comic books and webcasting to enable young people to explore common experiences of conflict and peace building.

The relationship between film and history within the context of divided histories will be further explored by a major international conference to be organised in collaboration with the 'Teaching Divided Histories' project as part of the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013 programme. On this website we provide a range of historical resources including interpretative essays, archival sources, recorded debates and further information about upcoming screenings and events. The website is designed to encourage viewers of our films to make their own assessments of the wider historical issues with which the films engage.


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