Price: 10euro Ticketed via St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Time: Doors 7.30pm / Starts 8pm
St. Patrick’s Festival are delighted to host a new collaboration between St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the IFI with this cutting-edge-of-its-time cinéconcert of 3 silent films from the The Kalem Film Company - the first production company to work outside America. Fondly known locally as the O’Kalems, they spent several years around Beaufort and Killarney resulting in films depicting Irish life and politics of the time. The Irish Cine Theatre Ensemble will perform original scores for these silent films including The Lad From Old Ireland (1910).
At the dawn of American cinema, when most film companies were already heading west to Hollywood, one company traveled east – to Ireland. The little-known story of the Kalem Company, or “The O’Kalems,” as they were fondly called, is the subject of a new collection from the Irish Film Archive.
As familiar as it sounds, this is not the opening scene of John Ford’s iconic 1952 film The Quiet Man. It is a moment near the end of The Lad From Old Ireland, a silent film in flickering black and white, directed by Sidney Olcott and produced by The Kalem Company in 1910. It was the first transatlantic film, the first-ever fiction movie to be made in Ireland, and it was extraordinarily ahead of its time. Despite these landmark achievements, both the film and the Kalem Company have been largely forgotten.
The early 1910s saw American cinema set off on a course that would define it for the better part of the 20th century. Though the industry initially got going in New York, occupying buildings in Chelsea, shooting on rooftops and in the accessible wilderness of New Jersey, film pioneer D.W. Griffith’s first shoot in California in 1910 helped to spark the industry’s great migration west, to Hollywood. In the years that followed, most of the major production companies, including The Kalem Company, established studios in California.
But the Kalem stars were already creating their own, different path, travelling 3,000 miles in the opposite direction – to Ireland. Led by director and actor Sidney Olcott and scenarist and daring leading lady Gene Gauntier, the Kalems first travelled to Ireland in the summer of 1910, and would return almost every summer until 1915, making close to thirty Irish films.
The Kalems first went to Ireland in that summer of 1910 as the first stop on a larger overseas trip. Docking in Cobh, they worked mostly in Cork and a bit in Killarney, Co. Kerry, shooting The Lad from Old Ireland, which they would finish upon returning to New York. That first O’Kalem film, directed by and starring Sidney Olcott and written by and co-starring Gene Gauntier, tells the story of Terry O’Connor (Olcott), a young Irishman who leaves his love, Aileen (Gauntier), to try his luck in America. They continued to create more work over the coming years, some of which will be screened at this event with live score from The Irish Cine Theatre Ensemble.