Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Secret of Roan Inish

As a self-confessed cinephile, I take my cinema seriously, and try to instil an appreciation of the medium in my children. I regularly take my six year old son, Alexander, to the cinema and get special satisfaction when we come out of a foreign language film that he really enjoys. He is nonplussed by subtitles. Not only is he a good reader, but cinema uses universal language – many visual cues – that children intuitively understand. A good film is a good film in any language. It never fails to impress me how he can discern a good film from a mediocre one.

When ACMI sent out a request some weeks ago for suggestions for favourite children’s films for their Kids’ Flicks by Request program, on behalf of Alexander, I nominated The Secret of Roan Inish. This is my all-time favourite family film, set in Ireland, about a family who may be descended from selkies (seals). With its gritty cinematography and intelligent story, it could just as well be a film for adults. In actuality it is a fantasy/fairy tale with uncompromising dramatic depth that doesn’t underestimate children like 99% or more of children’s cinema does.

Today I was very pleased to receive an email from ACMI notifying us that Alexander’s choice was one of two films currently selected for screening, and he has received acknowledgement on the Kids’ Flicks by Request page (the other selection is Interstella 5555). The film is being screened twice only at ACMI, at 10.30am and 1.00pm on Sunday July 15, and tickets for all ages are only $5. Obviously I highly recommend the film – put it in your diaries and go see it, with or without kids. It’s a beautiful story that will linger for days.

Check out the trailer, IMDB or read the Senses of Cinema article on John Sayles. ACMI’s blurb is as follows:

The Secret of Roan Inish (G)

John Sayles, 102 mins, USA, 1994, 35mm. Courtesy: First Look Pictures/Dendy Films

Independent-minded young Fiona (Jeni Courtney), sent to live with her grandparents on the wild west coast of Ireland, firmly believes that she and her family are partly descended from the selkies (seals) who populate the mysterious island of Roan Inish.

John Sayles' realist style of filmmaking handles the fable-like qualities in Rosalie K. Fry's novella with a sure and delicate hand. Master cinematographer Haskell Wexler invests the film with glorious light and atmosphere.

“Exquisite! A crackling good tale of wonder, mystery and magic. Manages to be both contemporary and timeless” Los Angeles Times

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