3 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Dingle International Film Festival to Host 'Keeper of the Flame' World Premiere
16 Mar 2018 : Nathan Griffin
South Wind Blows has announced that ‘Keepers of the Flame’, the new feature-length documentary by Emmy Award winner Nuala O’Connor, will make its world debut at the Dingle International Film Festival later this month – Sunday, March 25th.

The feature, which marks Nuala O’Connor’s directorial debut, tells the universal story of generations dealing with the consequences of war and civil war; of what is remembered and what is forgotten.

‘Keepers of the Flame’ delves into the archives of the Irish Military Service Pensions and what emerges is a truly personal retelling of a brutal and divisive period in the birth of a nation and the devastating legacy it left in its wake, for the individuals who took part and their families who suffered long after the fighting ended. More than 85,000 applied for the Irish Military Service Pension. Just over 18,000 received any payment.

The film brings to light the diverse experiences of some of the 85,000 ordinary Irish men and women who made pension or dependents allowance claims for having actively served during the violent revolutionary period from Easter 1916 to the end of the Civil War in 1921. Their stories lie in the Irish Military Pension Archives, stack upon stack of applications detailing involvement and actions, thousands of different interpretations of the same events lying side by side.

The Irish Military Pension Archive could be called a collective memoir. What it reveals are the personal interpretations and unique accounts of the revolutionary period, and the anger, despair and bitterness left in the wake of a country’s fight for freedom. Archives challenge both political and family narratives - the myths that take hold in the immediate wake of traumatic periods are necessary for countries and peoples to move on, to rebuild lives. Keepers of the Flame challenges the political and familial myths that embedded post-revolution in Ireland, providing a fresh, frontline perspective on these troubled times.

It uncovers the stories of the ordinary people who are not afforded a place in the history books; those who undertook what seem now to us terrible, inconceivable actions and personal sacrifices in the name of freedom. Most of them, both men and women, were very young and at the beginning of their adult lives. They fought together in the War of Independence and were then compelled to fight against each other in the Civil War.

This remarkable documentary looks at the long-term impact of a great reluctance to talk about the events of the period, the lack of desire to relive actions and decisions, and the secrecy and silence that further isolated individuals and families. The film sheds light on the nation’s post-war psyche. Many of these men, women and their families felt that they were effectively abandoned by the state, their service unrecognised and in most cases, refuted. Families and communities torn apart by the Civil War were left destitute. Thousands were coping with physical and mental trauma for the rest of their lives, for which there was little support or understanding, unable to provide for their families or take care of themselves.

‘Keepers of the Flame’ examines the Irish journey in search of a collective courage to remember and acknowledge the deeds of the past, recognise the wrongs that were done, realise the context of the events and establish common ground to enable an understanding of who we are as a nation. It reveals just how problematic commemoration and remembrance can be - this is true of all wars but especially civil wars. The story is timely coming as it does in the run up to 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Civil War. 

‘Keepers of the Flame’ is directed by Nuala O’Connor, from an original concept by Diarmaid Ferriter and written by Diarmaid Ferriter and Nuala O’Connor. Produced by Tina O’Reilly. Executive Producer Philip King. Director of Photography is Colm Hogan, Sound by Bob Brennan and Editor is Eoin McDonagh

Archive readings are performed by Mary Black, Aiden Gillen, Philip King, Aine Lawlor, Eoin McDonagh, Dermot McLoughlin, Aisling Ni Shúilleabháin, Joseph O’Connor, Olivia O’Leary, Iarla O’Lionaird and Marian Richardson. The soundtrack is composed by Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Keepers of the Flames is a South Wind Blows Production, made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, in association with the Irish Film Board/ Bord Scannáin na hÉireann and RTÉ.

Keepers of the Flame will have its World Premiere as the Closing Night Film at the Dingle International Film Festival on Sunday March 25th, 2018.

Tickets from www.dinglefilmfestival.com

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