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BEHIND THE MASK

Ireland / UK / Australia, 1990 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: Frank Martin

Behind The Mask is a unique collaborative production commenced in London, shot in Belfast and completed here in Melbourne. The film initially started life as a project to be made for British television. Frank Martin had gained the co-operation of several key former IRA members who agreed to discuss their lives and the legacy of their involvement with the Republican movement.

Filming was underway when the British Government introduced the Broadcast Ban on all media coverage of the IRA and the republican movement. (This ban is still in force - see 'The Media Show' entry for more details). This was enough to bring production to a halt, until additional funding was found from Australia. The scope of the project broadened, and the film now stands as both a brief historical introduction to the conflict, revealing testimonies from former political prisoners and an insider's tour of Belfast.

Soon after the first stage of filming was completed, Barry Hughes returned to Belfast from Melbourne for the first time in 25 years, to see his brother, former hunger striker Brendan Hughes. Their reunion, and the insights Brendan offers to the nature of day to day life in segregated Belfast now make up a significant part of the film. With a perceptive eye, Frank Martin's camera combs the streetscapes settling on a number of striking images, frightening to the casual observer, yet considered passé by Belfast residents. These very graphic reminders of the legacy of the Irish conflict linger long after the testimonies of former prisoners and the rhetoric of political spokespersons of both sides.

While there are many documentaries made on the situation in Northern Ireland each year Behind The Mask is imbued with an authenticity, a conviction, that other accounts lack. It avoids the journalistic style of most of its contemporaries and the admittedly low production values (a result of a meagre budget which made shooting on video rather than film necessary) compliment the film's grassroots approach.

We look forward to welcoming filmmaker Frank Martin to the festival to introduce and discuss the film.

Frank Martin's visit and the screenings of Behind The Mask are presented with the support of the Australian Labour and Trade Union Committee on Ireland.

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