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HIGH BOOT BENNY

Ireland, 1993 (MIFF 1994)

Director: Joe Comerford

With his third feature, Irish director Joe Comerford constructs a powerful allegory on a conflict which has, over the decades, produced more deception than truth.

Murder, retribution and betrayal collide in this relentless portrayal of the aimless nature of violence that long ago made details of the war in Northern Ireland so unfathomable to outsiders.

Caught up in a vortex of emotional and political duplicity, seventeen year old Benny, on the run from home, 'the troubles' and his own burgeoning desires, initially finds refuge within the walls of a small non-sectarian boys school run by a Protestant woman and her erstwhile lover, an ex-priest. When the naked body of a police informer is found there, the fate of this strange trio comes under the shadow of deadly suspicion. Sexual and personal tensions escalate and in this border zone where fronts and factions constantly change, love, trust and non-partisan loyalties are a dangerous luxury. At the last point of survival the question becomes, "On whose side are you neutral?"

A coldly atmospheric and violent rites of passage drama, High Boot Benny moves with the driven pace and rhythm of an escape film, but one in which its protagonists have nowhere to run.

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