Community Filmmaking in Ireland
(at time of presentation)
Dr Eileen Leahy is an independent researcher, living in Dublin, Ireland. She received her doctorate in 2014, from the department of Film Studies at Trinity College Dublin, as Government of Ireland, Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholar. Her doctoral thesis examined community filmmaking in Ireland, with a focus on recent community films made in contexts of urban regeneration in Dublin and the relationship between community film and national cinema. She is currently working on the publication of her findings and developing new research and cultural projects, as well as working part-time as research assistant on a short-term participatory action research project with youth in Dublin.
This paper critically examines the production context for community films made in Dublin under the auspices of urban regeneration. It explores how community films are produced through a wide range of participatory processes, which range from dialogue to participation. It examines how the production process serves to build community for participants including the film professionals facilitating the filmmaking by looking at the intersection of community and the cultural industries in community cultural production. It raises questions of authorship in collectively produced film and looks at shared authorship in collaborations between communities and artists or filmmakers.
Community films made in the regenerated social housing estate of Fatima Mansions in Dublin are a focus of this paper. In this urban regeneration project a number of community groups and organisations made films through a diverse range of approaches ranging from Freirean participatory models to visual art installations to commissioned documentaries. The tenets of community filmmaking as transformative and empowering are questioned through an examination of the production processes and contexts and the role of film production in reaffirming community for the participants is explored.
In addition the community filmmaking processes of artist filmmakers desperate optimists (Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor), in the regenerated suburban estate of Ballymun and the multi-cultural site of Moore Street, are also examined as spectacles for their community participants, which allowed the community to reclaim those places that were transformed by regeneration or redevelopment and to remake them as spaces of community.