Donal Foreman’s sublime documentary The Image You Missed will have its North American premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real festival in New York City on Friday, May 4th at 9pm.
The film sees the Foreman grapple with the legacy of his estranged father, Arthur MacCaig, and the decades-spanning archive of the conflict in Northern Ireland that he created. Drawing on over 30 years of unique and never-seen-before imagery, The Image You Missed is a documentary essay film that weaves together a history of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ with the story of a son’s search for his father. In the process, the film creates a candid encounter between two filmmakers born into different political moments, revealing their contrasting experiences of Irish nationalism, the role of images in social struggle, and the competing claims of personal and political responsibility.
The film was recently awarded the Grand Prize of the Avant-Garde Competition at BAFICI in Buenos Aires, as well as picking up two prizes at Cinéma du Réel in Paris: a Special Mention in the French Competition and the Prize for Best Original Music.
After a funding award from the Arts Council of Ireland, work on the film began in earnest in November 2015. Foreman spent six months delving into MacCaig’s archive, now mostly housed at the Irish Film Archive in Dublin, reviewing all of the surviving raw footage from MacCaig’s films, most of which had never been seen publicly.
During this time, Foreman also returned to his own filmmaking archive, dating back to his first efforts as an 11 year old in 1997, and along the way, unearthed the work of a third filmmaker: his mother’s uncle, Seán Brennan, who shot over seven hours of 8mm home movie footage in the late 1960s in Ireland and the US. Brennan’s work had never been digitized or publicly seen before, and it ended up playing an important supporting role in the fabric of The Image You Missed.
In March 2016, after the archival research was completed and as the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising unfolded, Foreman started shooting new material for the film, travelling through Dublin, Belfast and Paris with a Digital Bolex camera and MacCaig’s own 16mm cine lenses with which he had begun his filmmaking career in the 1970s.
After seeing a rough cut in early 2017, the French critic and Cinématheque Française programmer Nicole Brenez, who had participated as an advisor on the film since its inception, offered to include The Image You Missed in the film series she produces with filmmaker and artist Philippe Grandrieux. The series, entitled “It May Be That Beauty Has Strengthened Our Resolve”, began in 2011 with Grandrieux’s film about Japanese radical filmmaker Masao Adachi, and now includes titles on René Vautier and the Newsreel collective.
About the Filmmaker:
Donal Foreman (born in Dublin, 1985) is an Irish filmmaker living in New York City. He has been making films since he was 11 years old. Since then, he has written, directed and edited over fifty short films, and in 2013 he completed his first feature film, Out of Here.
The film was theatrically released at the Irish Film Institute in 2014, receiving 4-star reviews from major newspapers including the Irish Times, the Independent and the Sunday Business Post. The Irish Times praised the film as “profound, humorous and touching” with “note-perfect performances”. At age 17, he won the title of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year, and more recently he has been nominated for the Rising Star award at the Irish Film & TV Awards, and awarded the Discovery Award from the Dublin Film Critics Circle. He’s an alumnus of the Irish National Film School and the Berlinale Talent Campus, and, since 2011, a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. As a film critic, he has written for many publications including Cahiers du Cinema and Filmmaker Magazine, and as a teaching artist, he was worked with public school students across New York City for the Tribeca Film Institute among other organisations.