IN 1910 New York’s Kalem Film Company made history by sending its leading filmmakers - director Sidney Olcott and screenwriter/actress Gene Gauntier - to County Kerry.
While there, Olcott and Gauntier made The Lad From Old Ireland, the first fiction film to be made in this country and the first American film made outside the USA. It was an immediate hit and Olcott and Gauntier returned to Ireland over the next several years to make more films.
Known to the public as the “O’Kalems,” Olcott and Gauntier produced a series of groundbreaking films - rebel dramas, folk romances, tales of exile and emigration - celebrated for their authentic Irish settings and unrivalled in their use of scenery. The duo made close to 30 films during the early 1910s.
Olcott and Gauntier - their lives, work, and legacy - will be explored and celebrated in Blazing The Trail: The O’Kalems In Ireland, a new feature-length documentary which will be shown at the Town Hall Theatre on Wednesday July 6 at 3pm as part of the Galway Film Fleadh.It will be followed by the screening of The Lad From Old Ireland (1912 ) and His Mother (1910 ). This is a rare opportunity to see these early Irish made feature films.
Blazing The Trail was written and directed by Peter Flynn and produced by Tony Tracy (Huston School of Film, NUI Galway ) for BIFF Productions. The British Library has declared Blazing The Trail “a delightful piece of work” while the LA Examiner called it “a first-rate documentary”.
“Olcott and Gauntier made history by becoming the first American filmmakers to produce films outside the Americas - and the first to make films in Ireland,” says Tony Tracy. “The fact they chose Ireland speaks to Irish audiences in America as well as the worldwide fame of Kerry as a tourist destination.”
Blazing The Trail forms part of new double DVD release: The O’Kalem Collection: 1910-1915, published by the Irish Film Institute (IFI ) The DVD was co-produced by the IFI and BIFF Productions and will be launched at a special reception immediately following the screening at the Town Hall Theatre bar.