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John Michael McDonagh hits back at those "with an axe to grind"

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Calvary star Brendan Gleeson (left) with the film’s director, John Michael McDonagh

Calvary star Brendan Gleeson (left) with the film’s director, John Michael McDonagh

Calvary star Brendan Gleeson (left) with the film’s director, John Michael McDonagh

John Michael McDonagh has hit back at his critics, claiming some sections of the Dublin media have an axe to grind.

The director of The Guard and Calvary has issued a strong statement over controversial comment she made in an interview promoting Calvary.

He claims he was trying to promote the movie to an international audience and not as an “Irish film” when he told the Associated Press Irish films are not 'technically accomplished' or 'intelligent'.

“I wanted it to be seen as a universal movie dealing with universal spiritual and philosophical issues,” he said in defence tonight.

“This intention on my part has been wilfully misrepresented by a small section of the Dublin media with an axe to grind.

“What has been most dispiriting to me, however, is the low-level bigotry that has reared its head in the fallout from the interview.

“I am an Irish citizen, a child of Irish parents, nearly all my friends and work associates are Irish, and yet because I was born in London I supposedly have no right to comment on Irish film.”

McDonagh was criticised when it emerged he said that he would prefer Calvary was not called an Irish film because he doesn't find Irish films that 'intelligent'.

 “I’m not a big fan of Irish movies, I don’t find them to be  technically that accomplished and I don’t find them that intelligent,” he told AP.

"So I’m trying to get away from the description of the movie as an Irish film in a way."

Tonight, McDonagh said he genuinely believes that many Irish films in the past should not have gone into production without better screenplays and without greater preparation on the part of their directors.

“That is my opinion and I am perfectly entitled to it,” he added.

Tonight, McDonagh said he genuinely believes that many Irish films in the past should not have gone into production without better screenplays and without greater preparation on the part of their directors.

“That is my opinion and I am perfectly entitled to it,” he added.

Calvary received rave reviews in Ireland where it bagged an impressive €1.6m at the Irish box office.

A strong opening weekend in the US last month - taking an average of $18,000 per screen - saw it expand its US run.

In April this year Calvary won Best Film, Best Actor (for Gleeson) and Best Script awards at the IFTAs.

The director said he was thankful to his casts and crews, and to the Irish Film Board for supporting him in the making of The Guard and Calvary.

“I believe the IFB, in return, is thankful to Reprisal Films, Octagon Films and Element Films for delivering two of the most critically and commercially successful films to have come out of Ireland in the last 15 years,” he added.

“Films that have been enjoyed by audiences Worldwide.

“That success means the IFB’s investment has, and will continue to be, returned with interest, and they can press on with the goal of supporting other filmmakers and creating a financially and artistically viable film industry.”

Online Editors