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Bob Quinn
Click here to read the Cinegael Retrospective article from Galway Film Fleadh, 1993
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Cinegael Retrospective

Cinegael Retrospective, Galway 1993

"I achieved insanity and survived to talk about it", said Bob Quinn in an interview with Michael Finlan in the Irish Times some twenty years ago. Before then, and since, Quinn has been one of Ireland's most prolific and challenging film makers. Concetrating all his work and thought from his home/workplace in Conamara, Quinn has continued to make films, and in between filmmaking, to write a novel 'Smokey Hollow', and the book of Atlantean. All of Quinn's films to date have been made under the umbrella of his company CINEGAEL which he founded 20 years ago with civil rights activists Tone Cristofides and Seosamh Ó Cuaig. The name CINEGAEL is a pun created by Ó Cuaig meaning literally 'the Irish race", but important to Quinn for its cinematic connotations. CINEGAEL describes precisely the twinned passions of Quinn - cultural identity and film.

Quinn began his television career in Raidio Teilifís Éireann in the early sixties and directed a number of powerful documentaries, some of which are being shown in this retrospective for the first time since their transmission. In 1969, as one of the prime movers, with Lelia Doolan and Jack Dowling, of the revolutionary change that swept through RTE, Quinn left the Organisation and settled in Conamara with his family. After producing some shorts, CINEGAEL's first feature, Caoineadh Áirt UÍ Laoire (Lament for Art O'Leary) was completed. The film has a complex structure, using the story of the 18th century Irish rebel to examine questions of national identity, Irish culture and the nature of history itself. Poitín followed two years later and in telling the story of illicit whiskey-makers in Conamara, it upends stereotypes of the Irish landscape and the representation of women. In 1980, as part of the Aisling Gheal series, Quinn made a film called Master Musicians of Jajouka about a troupe of Berber musicians in Conamara, and from this film 'seed' grew his ambitious three-part speculation Atlantean which examines the roots of Irish music in North African culture.

In 1986 followed Budawanny, a film shot on Clare Island from the novel Súil le Breith' by Pádraig Standúin. Budawanny tells the story of the relationship between a young island priest and his housekeeper. Quinn, not known for letting go of anything that eats into his soul, is now re-making Budawanny as The Bishop's Story.

Quinn's philosophy of indigenous film making means remaining true to his Irish identity.

A fiercely uncompromising man, and a fiercely uncompromising film maker, he wants his films to be seen by those to whom he has shown a passionate artistic commitment over the last three decades - The Irish People.

- Patsy Murphy
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