When asked about progress being made on his current film project The Rising, scheduled to be released in 2016, Irish writer/film producer Kevin McCann responded with numerous details. “We are setting out to change the way Irish people think about themselves,” he says, “by telling a universal story of a slave looking for freedom for his people, a revival of the spirit of a people, an end to a slavish mindset.” The “universal story” McCann speaks of is the first filmic retelling of the Irish rebellion against British rule, known as the Easter Rising of 1916, centering around the efforts of key figure Seán MacDiarmada. For McCann, alongside such leaders as the ebullient Michael Collins, MacDiarmada poses as the condensed spirit of the rebellion, a symbol of unwavering persistence in a tumultuous historical narrative.
McCann continues his efforts at grassroots funding for the film. In the initial stages of writing the film’s treatment and attempts to pitch the story, he recalls an obstinate sense of urgency. “The Rising deals with a politically sensitive subject for the first time. This is a real challenge…I spent six months walking the streets of New York, encouraging societies, unions, individuals, and businesses to support the project, with donations from $100 up to $5000. This support has allowed for the film development to be maintained, where other 1916 films have been abandoned.” In addition to foreign funding, The Rising has received seed funding from the film board in Belfast as well as the United Irish Counties.
Organizing the funding and advertising campaign, McCann and his colleagues at the Ireland-based production company Maccana Teoranta—which focuses on documentaries, feature films, and radio programming—have timed the film’s release to coincide with the rebellion’s 100-year commemoration in 2016. “As a filmmaker from Ireland, my interest to date has been subjects looking at identity, history, and struggle.” He finds that the human condition is best expressed amongst these three realms, eschewing the lines between documentary and drama, where, as he comments, “drama can feel more real than documentary.” McCann explains, “Tens of millions of Irish diaspora will all be talking and learning about it.” His hope is that the film will compel Irish citizens to engage their own identity when they see this interpretation of how the Irish Republic emerged.
– Neil Vercellin