Migration and Intercultural Cinema in Ireland: a New Contemporary Movement?

Agnes Kakasi, Dublin Institute of Technology

EFACIS Conference – Ireland In/And Europe: Crosscurrents and Exchanges. September 2009, Vienna, Austria.


Migration and Intercultural Cinema in Ireland: A New Contemporary Movement?

‘Accented cinema’ (Naficy, 2001) is a transnational cinematic genre shaped by the personal exilic and diasporic experience of the filmmaker, and the thematic and stylistic aesthetics of the film. Much as Third Cinema, it subverts the practices of classical (Hollywood) cinema and auteur (European) cinema by depicting the interstitial positionality of the exiled/diasporic/migrant/ethnic film, filmmaker, and production practice. In places where filmmaking belongs to a quasi-homogeneous privileged circle, representations of the ‘accented’ subject can be highly indicative of national ideologies, power relations, and cross-cultural interactions. This paper will introduce the types of narratives and aesthetic characteristics filmmakers in Ireland have employed in constructing stories about experiences of ethnicity and migration and about processes of “othering”. Necessarily, it will also debate the existence of ‘accented’ cinema in Ireland, displaying the specificities of Irish cinematic depictions of cultural/ethnic Otherness. Ireland has recently transformed from “a nation of emigrants” to a “country of immigrants”, with an estimated 12% of the population born outside the country. While Irish emigration has been a major theme in many Irish, British, and American productions, and the Irish were frequently (mis)represented as an ethnic minority, the portrayal of immigrants in Ireland is quite a new phenomenon in the national film history, although there is an increasing number of both fictional and documentary works that depict the experiences of the “New Irish.” Films, such as Once (2006, John Carney), Capital Letters (2004, Ciaran O’Connor), and Seaview (2007, Rowley and Gogan) combined with Traveller films, like Pavee Lackeen (2005, Perry Ogden) will be the object of scrutiny, reflecting the ambiguous relationship Ireland has with its “internal Others.”