Derry documentary scoops award

Aileen McGuinness, Niamh McCay, Caitlin Thompson and Emer Thompson in the Guildhall during the childrens activities organised by Derry City Council back in 2009. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com
Aileen McGuinness, Niamh McCay, Caitlin Thompson and Emer Thompson in the Guildhall during the childrens activities organised by Derry City Council back in 2009. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com

A film about the origins of the Hallowe’en Carnival has won the Best Short Documentary Award at the Underground Film Festival in Cork at the weekend.

The festival screened over 100 films in 15 categories, with entries from 35 countries.

In addition to the award, the project has learned that the Derry made film ‘Spiorad na Samhna’ has recommended to teachers of Religious Education in England.

Ed Pawson, Chair, NATRE, National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, has described the film as ‘an exciting resource to widen our understanding of the diversity and origins of religion, beliefs and customs today’.

That news follows the earlier announcement that the film is being used on different Irish Studies courses throughout the world.

Clare Downham, senior lecturer on M.A. in Irish Studies at Liverpool University, meanwhile, said it is ‘good for provoking discussion on heritage and culture and the students liked it’.

It is also being used on similar M.A. courses at St. Mary’s University College, London and Glucksman Ireland House, New York University.

The film is now embedded on diverse websites, from American Folklore Society, Irish language sites, Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland to the San Francisco Irish Film Festival and the Budapest Centre for Irish Studies.

It traces origins of Ireland’s biggest Hallowe’en Carnival in Derry back to troubled years of 1980s. Film uses footage from spectacular 2013 Inferno show, produced by LUXe, based in Donegal.

The film also traces origins of Hallowe’en to the Celtic Festival of Samhain.

Dr. Jenny Butler from the Folklore Department of University College, Cork narrates this section.

‘Spiorad na Samhna’ is directed by Dessie Baker and edited by Ciara Ní Fhearghail. The script is by Dr. Seán Ó Duinnshléibhe.

The Derry interviews with Tony Toland, Paul Kerr and Damian McAteer were filmed by Chris McAlinden and FiachraÓ Longain of CMore Films.

The movie was developed out of a film making course, run by Nemeton TV and funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta.

The film, Spiorad na Samhna -- Spirit of Samhain, is on Vimeo at: https://vimeo.com/101398600