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¡Viva Irlanda! I’m Irish – Speak Spanish!

TG4 - Súil Eile

In recent weeks the TG4 period drama, An Klondike, has garnered favourable reviews from across the Anglophone press and media in Ireland, gaining plaudits from even the most cynical critics of Irish language broadcasting. For a channel that has been underfunded and pilloried since its establishment, the Conamara-based television station has built up an enviable reputation for producing well-crafted dramas, comedies and documentaries that most other networks in the country, for reasons of finance or resources (or simple lack of interest), decline to create in equivalent quantities. Public service broadcaster RTÉ and private outfit TV3/3e, now joined by UTV Ireland, orientate the vast majority of their output – and budgets – towards programmes purchased from overseas, normally Britain, the United States, Australia or elsewhere within the Anglosphere. Indeed, except for the commercial breaks and channel branding, TV broadcasts in Ireland are largely indistinguishable from those shown in the UK. The same British-made programmes appear on both, sometimes shown simultaneously, and invariably with no effort by the domestic networks to cater to the tastes of Irish audiences.

That is what makes TG4’s existence so invaluable. It is uniquely, unquestionably Irish. It is a public service broadcaster which invests millions of euros each year in the independent sector, sustaining hundreds of jobs in dozens of Irish companies (including Abú Media, the co-producers of An Klondike). It nurtures and grows our own television and movie industry, not those of other countries (TV3/3e stand up). And it does all this almost entirely though the medium of our indigenous language. Which is why, of course, so many English language supremacists hate or disdain it. So one would imagine that a drama like An Klondike, available in serial and cinematic form, would be granted a certain status, both on its own artistic merit and as an expression of modern Ireland to the world. One would imagine that if competition came up, one of considerable international standing, that such a programme would naturally be put forward for consideration. However, on this colony-addled island nation, such things are never so simple.

“Deadline is reporting that Paddy Breathnach’s Spanish language drama Viva has been selected as Ireland’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. The film is currently playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it has being drawing a lot of positive notices.

Héctor Medina stars in the lead, alongside writer Mark O’ Halloran (Adam and Paul), as well as Jorge Perugorría (Strawberries and Chocolate) and Luis Alberto García (Che). Cathal Watters (One Million Dubliners) is Director of Photography on the film, while Production Designer Paki Smith reunites with Breathnach, having previously worked together on Man About Dog.

Rebecca O’Flanagan and Robert Walpole produce for Treasure Entertainment, with funding from the Irish Film Board, Windmill Lane Pictures, RTÉ, and Treasure Entertainment.

The Irish entry for Best Foreign Language Film is selected by a panel of the Irish and Film Television Academy, after submissions are made during the year. The other contender this year was An Klondike, which is currently screening in its television format on TG4. Last year Tom Collins’ An Bronntanas was selected, but failed to make the final 5.”

Yes, that’s right, the Irish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 88th Academy Awards will be in Spanish. Which is some seriously fucked up shit, a chairde.

¡Viva Irlanda!


3 comments on “¡Viva Irlanda! I’m Irish – Speak Spanish!

  1. And was there anything better to offer this year?


  2. The first thing that crossed my mind on reading this was why did Mr Breathnach decide to make a Spanish language film instead of an Irish language film in the first place? Judging by his surname I’d assume he was a proud Irish speaker. It cynically makes you wonder which came first doesn’t it, the selection or the film! It’s not bilingual in Spanish and Irish, but mostly Spanish, by any chance, is it?

    I ask because the trailer for An Klondike shows it to be a bilingual production, with English apparently predominant. If the cinematic version is linguistically comparable, would that have ruled it out for selection in the Best Foreign Language Film category? Certainly, the Welsh films Hedd Wyn and Solomon a Gaenor, both put forward for Oscar contention, were overwhelmingly Welsh (with some English and English and Yiddish, respectively).


  3. ar an sliabh

    Love tg4, keeps me going when I’m in the U.S., the Irish foreign language film in Spanish is something else all together…WTF?


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