20th seminar of the Cleraun Media Forum
Directing Documentaries on Recent History — the Challenges
Funding for this seminar is provided by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (www.bai.ie)
The seminar will begin with a screening of the 26-minute documentary directed by Ciaran O’Connor
The Secret Peacemaker
It was shown on RTÉ 1 TV in April 2012 as part of the “Would You Believe” series. A discussion with the director about making documentaries on recent history will follow the screening.
In 1988, at the height of the Northern Ireland conflict, one image simultaneously horrified, moved and inspired people all over the world, as it captured the best and worst of humanity in a single frame. With no regard for his safety, an unknown priest knelt over one of two British Army Corporals, stripped and killed by a West Belfast mob, and administered the last rites. That priest was Fr Alec Reid, a Tipperary-born Redemptorist from Clonard Monastery in West Belfast. What the photo didn’t show was that he was already on another mission. That day, he was actually carrying some of the first documents of what would become the peace process.
This documentary is the story of Fr Reid, the man who helped stop the killing. Now over 80 and in declining health, he offers his unique insights into the rocky road to peace, alongside those of other key players and commentators who travelled that road with him. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is unequivocal about the special role that the Clonard Redemptorists played in the peace process, and in particular the role of Fr Reid, who acted as a go-between and facilitator between Adams, John Hume and the Irish and British Governments. Martin Mansergh, former Irish Government negotiator, reveals that the late Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, recognised Fr Reid as the “most important person in the entire Peace Process, bar none.” This documentary reveals how Fr Reid’s tenacity, faith and even naïvety created conditions and lines of dialogue which made the unthinkable achievable: the Good Friday Agreement, disarmament, and the power-sharing self-government that followed. He was one of just two people trusted to oversee the process of paramilitary weapons de-commissioning, alongside Methodist Minister Harold Good.
Ciaran O’Connor has worked in TV and film for over 20 years. He began his career in RTÉ, aged 17, as a soundman, before leaving at age 21 to establish New Decade, a news and current affairs supplier. For the next 10 years he filmed and produced hundreds of items for RTÉ, BBC, UTV, TG4, SKY, CNN, SAT1, MTV, CNBC. As the company grew, he moved towards longer-form documentaries, and has produced and directed, along with business partner Nuala Cunningham: The Science Squad, The Secret Billionaire, Lives on the Line, The Rutland, The Investigators, Tales from the Big House, Mars Rocks, Heritage Days, Jobs Uncovered. He wrote, directed and produced short films: Kung Fu - Finance, Maybe If You, Heartbreak Hotel. His first feature film, Trafficked, a dark thriller, was released in 2011. He is currently in pre-production on his second feature Keep it Country. New Decade also works with organisations in the areas of science, education and human rights.
The seminar will be chaired by Dr Díóg O’Connell, IADT lecturer, and co-author of Documentary in a Changing State (Cork University Press, 2012).
Date: Monday 22 April 2013, from 1930 to 2130
Venue: Ely University Centre (www.elyuc.com), 10 Hume St, Dublin 2 (tel: 676 7420) Attendance: Free of charge
Contact: Paul Harman (E: firstname.lastname@example.org; M: 086 859 6052)
Note: Numbers are limited to 30 (capacity of the seminar room), so early booking is requested
The Cleraun Media Forum provides continuity between the Cleraun Media Conferences (www.cleraunmedia.com) which take place every two years. At each seminar, experienced filmmakers / journalists present documentaries / papers and then discuss the contents with those present. This allows ethical and professional issues which arise in the course of their work to be teased out in a positive and constructive way. Young filmmakers and journalists, and those studying film and media are the main target audience. The conferences take place at Cleraun (www.cleraun.com), beside UCD Belfield. The forum seminars take place at Ely University Centre (www.elyuc.com). Activities of Christian formation at Ely and Cleraun are entrusted to Opus Dei (www.opusdei.ie), a personal prelature of the Catholic Church.