I was delighted and somewhat surprised to see that ‘The Toughest Road Back’ won a Silver Shark Award this weekend down in Kinsale. The short online documentary about Kerry football legend Colm Cooper’s difficult journey back to recovery after a terrible knee injury won in the Irish Digital Online Video category. I cut the film for director by Ross Whitaker and producer by Aideen O’Sullivan, with whom I previously worked with on ‘When Ali Came to Ireland’. The film was made as part of the AIB #thetoughest advertising campaign by Rothko. I was delighted to be part of this film, which you can watch below.
The Boston Irish Film Festival opened this week and continues through this weekend. I’m very fortunate to have 2 films I edited screening as part of the festival. Tomorrow, Saturday morning sees a screening of Sarah McCann’s film about Ocean Rowing
One Ocean: No Limits
ONE OCEAN: NO LIMITS follows a young Irish novice rower through the highs and lows of rowing completely unassisted as part of a crew of six across the vast Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados. It allows the audience to become part of a world record-breaking crew of six men, (2 English, 2 Irish, 1 Icelandic, 1 Maltese), on board the ocean rowing boat, the Sara G – a crew who only met a few days before setting out on this momentous task. Ocean Rowing itself is an extreme sport and from an endurance viewpoint, this feat of crossing the Atlantic by oar is similar to running over 100 marathons, back to back.
This produced/directed/photographed and edited by Sarah McCann. I was the co-editor of the film.
It tells the story of how Killorglin-born circus strongman and publican, Michael “Butty” Sugrue, who put up £300,000 and persuaded Muhammad Ali to make his first visit to Ireland to fight against Alvin Lewis in Croke Park on 19 July 1972
Also screening during the festival is the US Version of Men at Lunch which I was also tangentially involved in.
Directed by Sean O’Cualain for Sonta Films. It was edited by Dathai Connaughton and photographed by Ray McDonnacha
Among a wide selection of shorts is Stauma produced by my good buddy Eamon Stack and The Daisy Chain directed by another old collegee mucker Denis Fitzpatrick
This weekend as part of the excellent Irish Film New York festival they are showing not one but two films I edited as part of their showcase of Irish work. King of the Travellers plays tomorrow at 4, followed immediately by When Ali Came to Ireland at 6. ‘Ali’ director Ross Whitaker and producer Aideen O’Sullivan are going to the event which is run by Niall McKay and in that company a weekend in New York would have been amazing but I just couldn’t make it happen.
The films are screening in NYU’s Cantor Film Centre on 8th Street. If you know anyone in New York, you should tell them to go as they will enjoy a great festival and see some quality films including the US premiere of Silence, Run & Jump and Made in Belfast.
here’s a great piece from the hollywood reporter on the festival
and another from Indiewire about the Irish New Wave
and here’s a clip from the Ali doc
The IFTA winning documentary “When Ali Came to Ireland” is repeated tonight on RTE 1 at ten bells. It was made by Ross Whitaker and Aideen O’Sullivan of True Films and edited by my good self.
The film centres on the 1972 fight, in Croke Park, between Ali and the American challenger Al “Blue” Lewis, an ex-convict who miraculously won parole from a life-sentence for murder in his native Detroit. They were brought together in Dublin by an ex-circus strongman from Kerry, a colourful bar-owner who billed himself as “The World’s Strongest Publican”.
The documentary also features contributions from, among others, Cathal O’Shannon, in his last recorded TV interview. And, from his home in Detroit, Al ‘Blue’ Lewis, Rock Brynner – the son of actor Yul Brynner – who was a confidante of Ali and who was part of his entourage in Ireland, the former Kilkenny hurler, Eddie Keher, who famously taught Ali how to use a hurley and sliothar as part of the pre-publicity for the fight, journalist and broadcaster Dave Hannigan, author of ‘The Big Fight’, and the respected American sports journalist, the late George Kimball.
The documentary was first broadcast on New Years Day 2013 at 6:30 and met with great positive feedback online and with audiences generally. In mid december last year the IFI held a preview screening as part of their Ireland on Screen strand which runs every sunday. The film attracted the biggest ever audience to the IFI for that slot and the screening was a great success and everyone at it really enjoyed the film. From a personal point of view, it was great to see and hear an audiences reaction to something you cut, its a treat you rarely get with tv documentary. Usually the show airs and while you might see some reaction on social media, its not quite the same as experiencing that reaction in the flesh. After the screening there was a lively Q&A with Ross and some of the contributors with people in the panel and in the audience sharing their recollections of Ali in Ireland. It was a great experience that I won’t forget in a long time.
The documentary also screened at the Chicago Irish Film Festival in March where Ali’s daughter turned up and said she really enjoyed the film, which was pretty incredible. It has since screened in London at the Focal Awards and at other venues around the world. ANd of course in February last year the film won Best Sports Award at the IFTA’s, here is Ross and Aideen going up to pick up the gong.
The IFTA winning documentary by Ross Whitaker and Aideen O’Sullivan “When Ali Came to Ireland” has its UK Premiere tonight Monday the 10th of June in London.
The film is screening as part of the London Archive Film Festival at 7:30 in The Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road), London SE11 4TH. If you are based in London please do try and come along. Ross and Aideen will be in attendance. You can buy tickets online in advance from here
ABOUT THE FILM
From the makers of HOME TURF (*Official Selection* Hot Docs 2012) and BYE BYE NOW (*Winner* Silverdocs, Nashville 2011), WHEN ALI CAME TO IRELAND captures the madcap week when legendary boxer Muhammad Ali went to fight in Ireland at the height of his career.
Self proclaimed ‘World’s Strongest Publican’ Michael ‘Butty’ Sugrue pulled off a massive sporting coup in 1972 when he convinced Ali’s promoter that he was good for the $300k down-payment required to bring Ali to Ireland and then largely paid for proceedings in beer-stained bank notes.
The trip had a huge impact on those Ali met and, some say, on the man himself. The documentary reveals that his trip to Ireland influenced how Ali viewed white people in the aftermath of his conversion to Islam and his declarations that white people were devils.
The documentary by Ross Whitaker and Aideen O’Sullivan combines a wealth of archival material with colourful reminiscences to tell an unlikely tale that is infused with great warmth and moments of real hilarity. (Photo courtesy of The Irish Post)
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The London Archive Film Festival 2013 in association with FOCAL International, is an annual celebration of the use of archival footage in the creative media organised by archivist, Alison Mercer. The inspiration for the Festival came from the FOCAL International Awards which teasingly show clips from the nominated films and leave the audience wanting to see more.
Many of the films submitted for these awards never get a showing in the UK. The London Archive Film Festival aims to change this and celebrate the seldom seen work that is coming out of Europe and further afield.
When Ali Came to Ireland screened at the Chicago Irish Film Festival this week in Illinois. Director Ross Whitaker was in attendance and got to meet the daughter of the man himself, Jamillah. She liked the film and gave it the thumbs up. How awesome would it be if she showed it to her ould lad!
I have been somewhat remiss at updating this blog in the past few weeks. I’ve been confined to my editing cave toiling away on a project and haven’t had much chance to keep things updated.
The big news is of course that not only did “When Ali Came to Ireland” get nominated for an IFTA, it only went and won the thing. I was delighted for director Ross Whitaker and my new favourite person, producer Aideen O’Sullivan of True Films. It was fantastic to win the gong and I was delighted to have been part of the project. We all had a great time at the awards in the convention centre. It was great to see so many of the people I’ve worked with over the years and to catch up. It was also great that all of my buddies (except perennial IFTA Bridesmaid Ronan O’Donoghue, the man just can’t catch a break) that were nominated won, Mark Henry, Garret Farrell, Sean and Eamon O’Cualain and all the lads from Abu Media all picked up the statue. So a good night for all concerned and it was finally nice to be involved with a winning project as in previous years the stuff I cut that had been nominated lost out.
It’s valentines day so I have to give a big shout out to Maire T. Robinson for many reasons but especially because she got shortlisted for the Doire Press award yesterday, the winner is announced next week. She’s already a winner as her shortlisted story will be published in an anthology but if she is the overall winner it’ll be published in a limited edition chapbook. Fingers crossed as its a great prize.
For the day thats in it, filmmaker Fergal Rock is streaming his short “On Our Way” for the next 12 hours or so on the films website here. It’s a lovely film and I was glad I was able to help out with it by doing the grade. There is a screening of the film this weekend at the sugarclub in Dublin at 2 in case you are too lazy to watch it online but active enough to go see it on the big screen.
And again because its Valentines day my friend and all-ireland poetry slam champion Sean Dennehy posted this poem earlier today to soundcloud
Earlier this month I finished work on an exciting new documentary called “When Ali Came to Ireland”.
In 1972 Ali came to Dublin to fight Alvin “Blue” Lewis in Croke Park. This documentary is about that fight, where Ali was in his career, the colourful past of Blue Lewis and the extraordinary story of the Kerry circus strongman who somehow made it all happen.
I cannot describe how exciting it is to work something like this, Boxing is always a great subject and to work on something about Muhammad Ali is a real privilege. It is so hard to take your eyes off him, his magnetic personality is astounding and we got access to some greta archive material of him in Ireland that I think people will love.
The film will screen over the christmas on RTE 1 but there is a special preview screening this Sunday at 1pm in the IFI with a Q&A with filmmakers Ross Whitaker and Aideen O’Sullivan of True Films afterwards. Tickets are still available here and you can read the Irish Times article about the film here or indeed the larger piece that appeared on the journal.ie here
So yesterday afternoon, for the first time since my days on Blackboard Jungle in the mid-90’s I once again took to the National airwaves. I was very kindly asked by the good people on Newstalk Sports Sunday to take part in a panel discussion on Sports Documentary Films. For the last hour of the show, host Ger Gilroy was joined by my good self, Film Ireland Editor and noted documentary director Ross Whitaker and the producer of Laochra Gael Isabel Leahy. I was quite nervous at first but I warmed to the task somewhat as the hour progressed. I haven’t listened to it back yet as I fear it could well be mortifying but my mother said I was great. So that must be true.
Over the course of the hour we discussed, the recent Ras Tailtean film which I edited as well as Laochra Gael and Ross’s film on the Saint Saviours boxing club – Saviours
We also discussed a bunch of very high profile sports docs and what we looked for in a film.
You can listen back to the piece by going to here and clicking on sports documentaries panel