Nenagh Silent Film Festival initiative gains momentum

The Nenagh Silent Film Festival (NSFF) initiative has begun to gain momentum with several interested parties coming on board to show support since the initial public meeting during early December. Some of the familiar faces who have quickly shown their support for this venture include Alan Kelly TD, Tony Tormey (Paul Brennan: Fair City), Councillors Lalor McGee, Tom Moylan and Seamus Morris, plus Nenagh Mayor Virginia O’Dowd.

With regards the tourism aspect of this initiative Alan Kelly TD has stated that: “Innovation is key when considering local tourism. New ideas and the commitment from local community to come together and to challenge themselves for the benefit of their locality is hugely admirable. The idea for a Nenagh Silent Film Festival is innovative and ventures like this, which can help boost tourism figures for the region, should be supported. Nationally, recent tourism figures show an increase of over 7% and it’s great to see communities like Nenagh parish coming up with new initiatives, which will not only help local tourism, but will also boost the national tourism drive.”

Also offering support as a patron of the Nenagh Silent Film Festival is the Fair City actor Tony Tormey. He has been quoted as saying that: “The Nenagh Silent Film Festival is a terrific idea. Like a lot of actors, I grew up watching Laurel and Hardy and Harold Llyod. Now I share that laughter with my own children. To see it on a big screen would be wonderful.”

The Mayor of Nenagh, Virginia O’Dowd, also welcomes the idea of a silent movie festival. She says: “Not many people are aware of Nenagh’s connections to the development of silent movies and the movie industry. This festival will focus on that connection and also highlight another aspect of Nenagh’s role in the arts.” The Mayor of Nenagh wishes the committee well and looks forward to working with them in the run-up to the festival.

Co-founding member of the NSFF initiative Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee notes that when launching the inaugural Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in the County Kerry village of Waterville during August 2011,  journalist Charlie Bird highlighted his admiration for people who get off their behinds and start doing things for their community. This was also supplemented by Jimmy Dennihan TD, who stated that some people get new ideas, they grab them and run with them – people like Dr Ellie O’Sullivan and Josephine Chaplin who proposed and decided to go with their idea of a Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival just the previous autumn.

These same sentiments are echoed by Councillor Seamus Morris who has said that, “it’s wonderful to see local groups coming together and working for the community”. He states that “we have to start doing things ourselves for the town and come up with ideas which will help promote Nenagh town, because no-one is going to do it for us”. He also says: “I’m a huge supporter of people who get off their backsides and try to do something positive for their community and I believe the Nenagh Silent Film Festival initiative is a fantastic idea.”

Other positive quotes offered in support of the Nenagh Silent Film Festival from other local politicians include from Councillor Lalor McGee who hopes that the local community supports this initiative including the local Chamber of Commerce. He believes that an annual multi-day festival would be a productive boost towards tourism to Nenagh town and the inaugural Nenagh Silent Film Festival could be something to be built on for the future. He also points out that the 2012 Discover Ireland calendar highlights 52 festivals and events of which none are based in North Tipperary, while seven are film festivals and Councillor McGee believes that as a community we should be striving to be noticed by the likes of Discover Ireland as a tourism destination.

Councillor Tom Moylan has also added his support and he states that it’s a fantastic initiative which is championed by local people. He also says that any initiative which helps to promote the town of Nenagh should be supported and coming after the huge success of the Nenagh Chamber of Commerce Christmas Drive with the world record gathering of elves, plus the strength of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade since it was re-introduced locally, initiatives like the Nenagh Silent Film Festival is a continuation of local enterprise for local tourism and it should be welcomed.

It is planned that the Nenagh Silent Film Festival will be held in the latter half of 2012 over several days and will include a wide programme of events from the essential silent film screenings, a number of short film competitions for students and professionals, film-making workshops, and much, much more. Film Festivals have become popular ventures across the country in a bid to draw tourism and several of these like the Cork, Kerry and Waterford Film Festivals or the Galway Film Fleadh and the Jameson International Film Festival draw huge attendances which are beneficial to the hosting region.

The NSFF committee also notes that initial financial reports from the inaugural Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival show that it was a roaring success with over 5,000 in attendance; while the local economy was boosted with a six-figure sum. It should also be noted of Charlie Chaplin’s connection to Waterville village and in the same manner it is planned by the Nenagh Silent Film Festival committee to highlight the connection of Rex Ingram, the famous silent film director, to Nenagh town.

In the same light the Rex Ingram connection to Nenagh town should not be forgotten. This Irishman could be viewed as Ireland’s forgotten movie pioneer and it is a goal of the Nenagh Silent Film Festival to remember a great of the movie-world who at one time called Nenagh his home. Tony Tormey also commented on this Irish-born movie legend: “Rex Ingram was one of the first Irishmen to make an impact on world cinema. He paved the way for John Ford and the many Irish talents who came after. To honour him like this in Nenagh is a great tribute to one of our own.”

Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock, who would later change his name to Rex Ingram, lived for a time as an eight-year-old at number one Pound Road in Nenagh West Urban according to the 1901 census. He would eventually become one of the most influential directors of the silent era with famous productions to his name like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, His Robe of Honour and The Prisoner of Zenda.

With a strong committee drawn from the immediate Nenagh area, a tremendous amount of work has been ongoing behind the scenes and all eyes are focussed on the next public meeting, which will be held on Friday January 20th. The venue and time will be The Hibernian Inn at 8pm and all are welcome.

Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee Kevin McGee

Chairperson                                                     Director of Programming

For further Information:

Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee @ 086-0602394

Kevin McGee @ 086-8141902

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