The Boys from County Clare (2003)
Also Known As:
The Great Ceili War
Director: John Irvin
Running Time: 90 min.
Isle of Man, Northern Ireland


Set in Ireland during the 1970s, the film follows the fortunes of two estranged brother, both fiddle players. After 25 years they meet again by chance at the All-Ireland Ceili Band Competition where they are playing in rival bands.

Starring Andrea Corr, the youngest sibling in the Irish rock band "The Corrs."

Andrea Corr and Shaun Evans
28th Toronto International Film Festival
©2003 Digital Hit Entertainment.
Photographer: Ian Evans

Produced by Evzen Kolar, Wolfgang Esenwein, & Ellen Dinerman Little (USA)
Screenplay (in English) by Nicholas Adams
Production Design by Tom McCullagh
Photography (Color) by Thomas Burstyn
Edited by Ian Crafford
Music by Fiachra Trench

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould


Photo by Peter Bregg
Copyright: 2009 White Pine Pictures Inc.

Directed by Michčle Hozer & Peter Raymont

If you are interested in classical music, musicians, piano, or human nature, this documentary film is a must see. It’s excellent. There have been other films about eccentric pianist Glenn Gould, specifically “On the Record” and “Off the Record,” (National Film Board of Canada, 1959) and “Thirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gould” (1993) - a series of vignettes about his life.  “Genius Within” is the most comprehensive film study to date. It follows Gould’s development as pianist from his early years until the day of his death in 1982 at the age of 50. 

Gould was only 22 when he made his American debut at Town Hall, New York City (1955). The following day, he was offered an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records. His recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations received immediate critical acclaim. The rest is history.

And what an interesting character Gould was.  Draped in a long coat, scarf, and gloves in the middle of summer, he had his own way of dealing with the world.  He refused to shake hands with anyone, fearing injury.  As well, Gould was a nocturnal being, often rehearsing with others late at night.  He used a special rug and chair for recordings and performances. The chair looked like it had fallen off the back of a truck, and it had a tendency to squeak while he was playing.  Trying to eliminate these sounds from recordings, as well as Gould’s habit of singing while he was playing, drove Columbia recording technicans nuts.

Photo Courtesy of Sony
Glenn Gould

Eventually Gould refused to play concerts, preferring to edit his recordings meticulously instead. He was obsessed with having absolute control over every aspect of his work.

The film’s structure is masterful. The extensive research undertaken for over two years to create this production is impressive. Information about Gould is smoothly interwoven with stock footage from previous films about him, interviews with people with whom he worked, music critics, and former lovers - all providing a new insight into the private world of Glenn Gould.

The interesting aspect of the film are the personal interviews with people who knew him but had never spoken publically about their relationship with him.  Cornelia Foss, the wife of German born, American composer/conductor Lucas Foss, left her husband and took their two young children to live in Toronto.  The news about her four and a half year affair with Gould only broke two years ago.

Gould seemed to be happiest when he was playing the piano. Other aspects of his life were not so comforting. His hypochondriac and paranoid tendencies became more acute later in life - his dependence on pills more intense.  The positive and the dark side of genius is explored in the “Genius Within.”

Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, Directed by Murray Lerner, 84 minutes, 1981, USA

Isaac Stern visited Beijing, and Shanghai on his trip to China. Besides showing the violinist mentoring young Chinese students, the film reveals a disturbing history, the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when western influences were opposed and the playing of classical music was forbidden. Ironically, in 1979, he was invited by the government to perform and teach the techniques of Mozart to Chinese musicians.
Academy Award, Best Documentary, Features, Murray Lerner, 1981
Mark O'Connor handled the solo work on "The Patriot". The film stars Mel Gibson and takes place during the revolutionary war. Mark is the featured musical soloist performing William's "Gabriel's Theme" at the end of the movie over the credits. . He said recording it was a classic scene complete with a 100 piece orchestra conducted by John Williams at the Columbia Pictures back lot studios. "The piece I played was a beautiful Celtic-like melody."

Once, directed by John Carney, 85 minutes, 2006, Ireland

"Once" is a terrific film. Be patient with the opening moments; the film just keeps getting better. It's a romantic love story about a Guy (Glen Hansard) and a Girl (
Markéta Irglová) who meet by chance on the street, and their relationship  isn't predictable.  The two main characters are naturals, and their original music makes the film work. John Carney's direction is outstanding as he creates one charming moment after another.

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

 The song "Falling Slowly" is a magical duet that will stay with you long after you have seen the film. Shot in 17 days, it shows an image of Dublin from times past... a working class city. It's a film possessed by music, and it's a touching story about would-be musicians and the struggles they go through to produce their first recording.

Academy Award,  Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song,
Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová -
"Falling Slowly."

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill have created the original score for the award-winning film "Photos to Send." Dierdre Lynch's stunning documentary walks in the footsteps of Dorothea Lange's 1954 visit to County Clare on assignment for Life magazine. Lange had met and photographed many people around Mt. Callan in the fall of that year, and has left a legacy of magnificent photographs and her impressions of a noble community. Nearly half a century later Ms Lynch went back and spoke with some of those same people, and the film that has emerged is an intimate and poignant view of life in Ireland today in relation to those photos and notes of 1954.

Director: Dierdre Lynch
Tel: 603 - 635-9429

Songcatcher (1999), directed by Maggie Greenwald, 109 minutes, 2000, USA
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Performance
at The Sundance Film Festival
How country music originated from Scottish and Irish ballads
 sung in the 1600s by people who came to America and settled in Appalachia.

"Appalachian Song Collector"
Review by
Paal Juliussen

Standing in the Shadows of Motown, directed by Paul Justman, 2002, U.S.A.
If you like a good beat, you'll love this film. The Funk Brothers, Detroit musicians, backed the Motown artists who made it big, but those who listened to the music, didn't know who the back-up band was. This film is a history of those musicians. Great entertainment. Great music.

They Shall Have Music, directed by Archie Mayo, 105 minutes, 1939, USA

This 1939 film will delight the entire family. It tells the story of a young boy who, running away from home and the law, stumbles onto a music school for poor children. The children at the school are  played by members of the Peter Meremblum California Youth Symphony Orchestra. Their performances are outstanding.

The key to the story and the highlight of the film for classical music lovers are the live performances by Jascha Heifetz,
are a must see for anyone who loves classical music. He plays the "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" by Camille Saint-Saëns with an orchestra conducted by Alfred Newman.

Together, directed by Kaige Chen, 116 minutes,
2002, China.
A child violin prodigy travels with his peasant father to Beijing to pursue a career in music. The scenes of China are wonderful. The performance music is actually played by Li Chuanyun, a former prodigy who studied at Juilliard, not the boy acting in the film.
San Sebastian International Film Festival: Best Director, Kaige Chen, 2002.
Florida Film Festival:
Audience Award, Best International Feature Film, 2003.



The Winners
, directed by Paul Cohen and David van Tijn, 85 minutes, 1998, Netherlands
"One of the best documentaries about classical music ever made
 and probably the best about the limits of virtuosity." - Variety

"The Winners" explores what happens to four classical musicians who won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.  Winning is not a guarantee to a successful life or career in music.

First Prize Long Feature Documentary and Public Award, 1997
International Documentary Film Festival, Nyon, France
1998 North South Award, Gent, Belgium

The Winners: When Winning Isn't the Only Thing
By Stephen Holden

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