13 - 24 Jun. 2012

Barbaric Genius

Director: Paul Duane. Ireland, 2011, 72mins

13, 14 & 15 Jun at 6.15pm
17 Jun at 3.15pm
20, 21, 22 & 24 June, 6.15pm

*There will be a Q&A with director Paul Duane after the 6.15pm screening on Sunday 24 June.*

The unpredictable life of John Healy – award-winning author, internationally distinguished chess player and erstwhile alcoholic vagrant – is the subject of this stimulating new documentary by Paul Duane.

Charting Healy’s violent upbringing in London’s Kentish Town slums as a child to Irish emigrant parents, and returning to the haunts where the writer slept, drank and fought in the ’60s and ’70s, the film provides an overview of the crucial lowlights of The Grass Arena, Healy’s breakthrough autobiography published by Faber in 1988 and universally acknowledged as a masterpiece.

However, Duane avoids the hazard of merely retracing the book’s steps, focussing instead on Healy’s fall from grace after his unlikely but meteoric rise to fame, due in part to an incident that arose from a profound lack of understanding with his publishers. As such, besides a sensitive portrait of an elusive man, Barbaric Genius offers a critique of a class-bound society that often fails to cater for its unique and most vulnerable talents. (Notes by Alice Butler.)

‘The fascinating tale of a modern hellraiser, ‘Barbaric Genius’ proves that the spirit of Hemingway is still alive and kicking’ TIME OUT


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