Silent Grace is a 2001 critically acclaimed drama, written and directed by Maeve Murphy. It stars Orla Brady and centres around the women in Armagh Prison who went on the first hunger strike and dirty protest in 1980, who were essentially written out of history. The film enjoyed its TV premiere this year, but only ever had a limited theatrical release, even though it was recognised by film festivals, including a nomination for the Conflict and Resolution Award at the Hamptons International film Festival USA in association with the Nobel Peace Laureates Foundation. But now you can catch a FREE screening! Plus a Q&A with the filmmaker Maeve Murphy. SILENT GRACE SCREENING + Q&A WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR MAEVE MURPHY & ORLA BRADY
In association with Trinity College Dublin's Drama&Film Studies Department Friday, 26th January 2018 12-2pm The Samuel Beckett Theatre (the drama department in TCD)
FREE ENTRY - BUT PLEASE RSVP TO RESERVE YOUR PLACE by emailing Ruth Barton at BARTONR@tcd.ie
Read more about the film.. Film critic Tara Brady has described the film as:
“wonderfully humane.. brilliantly confounds expectations.. I urge you to seek it out.” Here is an IFTN article about the recent TV Premiere. And below is an interview with the filmmaker Maeve Murphy. Originally published by The Irish Times, 23/6/17:
Silent Grace and silenced women’s voices.
Writer and director Maeve Murphy on the fate of her 2001 film about women IRA hunger strikers as it premieres on Irish TV
Orla Brady as Eileen in Silent Grace
TV3 is giving my debut fictional feature film, Silent Grace its Irish broadcast premiere on TV3’s Be3. Due to the wider audience the film will receive, it will go some way into writing the women prisoners who were involved in the 1980 dirty protest/hunger strike back into history. And the film Silent Grace with it. This enlightened move by TV3 can only be welcomed and praised. As Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda says in his 2017 Peace Proposal: “Building a society that upholds the rights of all people will only be possible if women’s rights are given explicit recognition…”.
I was 21 when in my mum’s study in Belfast I came across by chance Nell McCafferty’s slim pamphlet/book called The Armagh Women. It blew my mind. Not just the poignancy of their story, but also their bravery, fighting for political status in those circumstances. But I was also amazed. How or why did I not know about this? The dirty protest and hunger strikes were headline world news. They had gone through all of that, and yet somehow had been forgotten by the general public? I lived in Northerm Ireland during that period, yet I did not know women were involved.
That was the first time I realised that an unconscious undervaluing of women, whether it be as protesting political prisoners, or as artists or as nurses, is real and can exist
I think that was the first time I realised that an unconscious undervaluing of women, whether it be as protesting political prisoners, or as artists or as nurses, is real and can exist. That somehow women’s contribution can be seen as less: less valuable, less important, of less weight, or somehow seen, as Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, says, as “secondary”.
I know that Silent Grace was lucky to get a small cinema release, let alone to now be shown on TV. I know how hard it is to get any film made and released. However, it clearly has something. It was chosen by the UK selector for Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, until it was realised it was in fact an Irish film and had already screened in the Cannes market.
It was also nominated for the Conflict and Resolution Award at the Hamptons International film Festival USA in association with the Nobel Peace Laureates Foundation. And all five of the nominees got a special video address from President Clinton encouraging us with our work.The late Irish Times critic Michael Dwyer said in his original review: “It surmounts its very low budget emerging as a work of sincerity and concern”. Tara Brady wrote in Hot Pressthat the film was “wonderfully humane… brilliantly confounds expectations… with no South African-style peace and reconciliation tribunal in Northern Ireland, Silent Grace may be the next best thing… I urge you to seek it out.”
And yet for years, it hasn’t really felt like that. I wonder if I even started to internalise the external landscape, and started to feel the film, and the women, were less, didn’t really matter, or not as much.
But at 21, feeling fuelled to do something, I met one of the ex-prisoners and talked to her about her experience and taped it and brought it to my fellow members of Trouble and Strife, a women’s theatre company. We co-wrote a play about one day on the dirty protest called Now and at the Hour of Our Death, and then a screenplay focusing mostly on the dirty protest.