Cathal Boland (The Director/Screenwriter) is now aged 73 years. The Irish Republic was declared in the year of his birth. He grew up in Dublin attending weekly Cinema for the Sunday Matinee. He fell in love with the visualisation of stories be it American westerns, British detective cases or stories of War. Growing up and as an adult he met many people who had featured in the stories which formed the bases of modern Irish which he had heard about as a child. Cathal has a natural gift of organisation which he used and developed when involved commercially as a caterer in organising events, functions etc. In his thirties he entered the world of elected politics and served as Cathaoirleach (Mayor) twice and is currently the Deputy Mayor of Fingal County Council. He is a regular platform speaker and has delivered Orations at commemorative events which further enhanced his understanding of history. In the run into the Centenary Celebration of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to the establishment of the Irish State, he was invited to engage in creating a platform from which the story of the men and women of that period could be heard. This film is a part of that journey.
Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
It tells the story of an incident which occurred in one of our local small villages in April 1921 during the Irish War of Independence .
What are your ambitions with your project?
This is the first of five planned films which will explore and tell the history of the period from 1912 up to 1922 in the northern area of the County of Dublin Ireland.
Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
The film was made during Covid Lockdown in compliance with the rules of that time. The goodwill of the local community to the project was a big surprise. The film was made by amateurs, that is with the exception of the camera and editor Eric Campbell. The skill and ability of Eric Campbell. was a surprise. This film was made using just one camera with the support of a Drone operated again by Eric Campbell. While the film is based on Historical facts, what I tried to do was to tell the story and for the audience to see the pictures which I saw in my head which provided me with the script to which I spoke. So part of the surprise was that
the commentary of the story was taken in one sitting.
For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
The film is of general interest particularly to those interested in history. It has of course a wider appeal to those living in Ireland and particularly Fingal. As the film has a little fun, laughter, sadness, comradery, brutality, and kindness it is watchable across all sectors of society and particularly so to the Irish diaspora.
Why should distributors buy your film?
It is a niche film which paints the picture of a small village’s involvement in the wider Irish War of Independence 1916-1921.
How would you specify your work? What characterises your film?
(A) Our film is the portrayal of a collection of memories of the accounts of people involved in this incident.
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I am a past Chairman of a Historical Society who due to Covid were confined from undertaking their normal program of events. We secured an allocation of funding from the Creative Ireland Fund through our Local Authority designed for Commemorative Memories of the period which led to the foundation of the Irish State. The program which we had planned became redundant due to the Covid restrictions so we decided to experiment with film
Who is your role model?
My role model in film making is Werner Herzog.
Which movies are your favourites? Why?
My favourite commercial movie is Hope, Glory written, produced and Directed by John Boorman. (At the 13th Underground Film Festival of which John Boorman is a patron. John had recorded a simple address which was screened on the night and An Annual Award presented in his name was then made. Following that Award, The Director of the Festival David Byrne announced the introduction of “A Special Achievement Award”. Our film had obtained an “Honourable Mention” which for me was a great honour as John Boorman is a patron of the festival. I was fortunate to be the first recipient of the “A Special Achievement Award”.
Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
I like storytelling and I like the small details which many overlook but for me they are the things which makes History come alive and history interesting.
Which topics interest you the most?
History and Political stories.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
I have had many great achievements, but I imagine you're asking in terms of movie making. So, this film must be the greatest to date. The film received an Honourable mention at the 13th Underground Cinema Film Festival which is an IFTA (Irish Film & Television Academy) Affiliated International Film Festival located in Ireland. Underground Cinema has the belief that no matter what the film’s budget or the director’s vision it is the filmmaker’s passion that drives a film. The Festival states that it champions emerging filmmakers. I was delighted as a Director to be presented with “A Special Achievement Award” for this work. The Official Selection nomination of the “Who shot Sergeant Kirwan?” at both the Underground and the Milton Keynes film Festivals as confirmed our decision to continue to
What do you consider most important about filming?
In all things you and those who collaborate with you should have fun, passion and engagement with the script and belief in the story that’s been told on screen.
Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
This film was made in my head. I am a public speaker who seldom uses notes. I see the pictures and from them I tell the story. This was the approach which I used. Having researched the facts I verbalised the story to camera so that Eric Campbell understood what I was about. I then gathered my “producers” and told them what we needed, the actors, locations, props etc. I spoke to the actors before each scene and told them about the role they would play, what they would see, what I considered their reactions should be, told them the key lines which I needed and filmed. The put body to the visualisation to which I spoke in the narration. For me this worked. I was not overly prescriptive. The actors were naturally not concerned that they must stay on script provided they did not wander off the theme. This innovative style I like and will use again when I film next year.
How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
Film making has become more accessible with film now made even on a handheld phone. Therefore we will see major changes in the art and style.
What can disappoint you in a movie?
Who supports you in your film career?
Right now, my Community, my friends, and my wife.
Who Shot Sergeant Kirwan?
The film is based on material taken from original witness statements, now held in the Military History Archives. These statements are made by those who took part in these events, and locals and family members who had knowledge about an event which took place in Ballyboghil, a small rural agricultural village located in Fingal, North County Dublin during the Irish War of Independence.
During Spring in 1921, talks of a truce between Britain and Ireland were in the air. Terrible months from the Autumn of 1920 had left the people hurt and bruised, yet determined to fight on to victory. Like in all such wars, life went on, an attack here, an attack there, and so it was on this Spring April day.
What happened has left lasting memories. This film shares that village story with a wider audience.
© Cannes Film Awards 2020 - 2022