Chances to see Irish silents are very far and few between, so this orchestra-accompanied screening of Guests of the Nation promises to be something very special. That title doesn’t refer to Irish hospitality – this film is an adaptation of a Frank O’Connor short story, and the “guests” in question are British hostages of Irish freedom fighters. The author even has a cameo role in the film. It’s a late silent, filmed in the mid-1930s and features a few faces you may recognise from sound films.
I don’t know much about the film myself, but the Barbican website has this to say about it:
Guests of the Nation, preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive, is one of a handful of indigenous dramas made in Ireland during the silent period and is a remarkable work. Here, we are delighted to present the film with live orchestral accompaniment, with Niall Byrne as the composer and David Brophy conducting.
Based on a short story by Frank O’Connor (a frequent contributor to The New Yorker) reflecting his experience in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, the film concerns the friendship between British military prisoners and their IRA captors during the War of Independence.
Shot during the summers of 1933 and 1934 by a group of passionate amateurs under the direction of playwright and theatre director, Denis Johnston, the film features early screen performances from the legendary Barry Fitzgerald, Cyril Cusack, Shelah Richards, Hilton Edwards, Denis O’Dea, and, indeed, Frank O’Connor himself.
To win one of three pairs of tickets to see Guests of the Nation at the Barbican, just send the answer to this question to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Wednesday 10 April. The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
- Guests of the Nation actor Cyril Cusack played the Fireman Captain in which Francois Truffaut film?
Guests of the Nation screens at 4pm on Sunday 14 April at the Barbican Cinema. To book tickets, please click here.