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Objectives of the project

Documentary film and the public communication of historical knowledge in Northern Ireland

Our project aims:

  • To exploit the knowledge transfer potential of documentary film via a historical understanding by means of a 'live collaborative project'. This brings together an academic team and a range of film and broadcast professionals in order to produce and exhibit a film on republican Frank Ryan (1902-1944). 
  • To maximize the effectiveness of the knowledge transfer process by providing interpretative support for the reception of the film via festival screenings and workshops and via a dedicated website designed to support the film within the context of the public communication of historical knowledge in a divided community.
  • To delineate a model of good practice for the collaboration of documentary film makers and historians through effective communication and professional interchange between the academic team, the production company and exhibition organizations in order to facilitate a better appreciative understanding on the part of the academic team of the techniques and practices of professional media production and on the part of the media professionals of how to draw upon academic research expertise in the production of historical documentary films.
  • To pose a range of research questions about how historians relate to the popular media and of the differing modes of narration employed by film makers and academic historians and to share these insights with a popular audience:
  • To explore the use of archive and found footage in historical documentaries and the differing ways historians approach this 'data' as both evidential and expressive source
  • To explore notions of authority and objectivity in historical accounts and the interrogation of history in a divided society.
  • To consider the role of fictive tropes, including dramatic re-enactment, within the narration of history film.
  • To consider the engagement of the documentary film with personal testimony, collective memory and communal myth as historical sources in Ireland.
  • To explore the role of the documentary film in the critical interrogation of history and in post-conflict reconciliation, in particular the role of Irish language sector in this social pedagogy.