Saturday 8th November, 2pm
The Rabbit and the Teasel
by Els Dietvorst
Followed by a ‘question and answer’ session with the artist.
Wexford Arts Centre is delighted to screen a feature-length film by Els Dietvorst, The Rabbit and The Teasel followed by an ‘in conversation’ session.
In 2010, documentary filmmaker Els Dietvorst moved from Brussels to Duncormick, a village in the Irish countryside to build a new life. Immediately intrigued by what was happening around her, she began to record the everyday lives/survival of her neighbours. This resulted in a series of probing video testimonies, which she wove together into a web documentary entitled The Black Lamb.
In the documentary The Black Lamb, the testimonies of JT Butler, (the youngest member of a third generation of cattle dealers) formed the basis of a larger project; The Rabbit and the Teasel. This feature length film, transforms Butler’s story into a modern day rural drama, in which the raw reality of a year full of rain drives the farmer to despair, or as Butler’s father puts it “even if farmers are as tough as nails, this season is soul destroying”.
The Rabbit and the Teasel weaves fiction and autobiographical elements into a lyrical tale and builds on many anti-utopian themes from Dietvorst’s earlier film work: social conflict and the struggle that is life. She begins with her fascination for outsiders, people whose lives have radically changed course and who end up in the margin. The artist also reflects on her own live, what it means to live/survive far from the comforts of the city.
She draws on the collective memory of the local community and in the film, her fellow villagers narrate, film and act. The film was almost entirely shot at Breen Farm in Lough, Duncormick; a house built in 1832 by the Furlong family. Originally an agricultural farm, it was rebuilt as a dairy farm in 1968 by James Bridie Breen. Their son John manages Breen Farm today.
Eleven-year-old Caelan Hunt plays the role of TJ Butler. He lives with his mother Liz, his father and cattle dealer Bernard, and brother Einri, in the neighbouring village of Gorteen. He met Els and her team during the annual Tullamore Fair, where some of his father’s cattle won the competition. He loves football, is an avid fan of Chelsea and had never acted before.
Thirteen-year-old Sam Molyneux plays TJ Butler’s brother. Sam goes to school at St. Anne’s in Rathangan and is looking forward to going to secondary school. Sam loves to read and is very interested in the military history of World War II.
As a young teenager, Seamus McCoy moved from Birmingham, England to Wexford, Ireland. He has been active in local amateur theatre for many years. Seamus was delighted when Els proposed he play the role of TJ Butler’s father in the film.
Alice McCoy was born and raised in Duncormick. She is Seamus’s wife in real life and also diligently fulfils this role in the film. Alice is a trained cook and this is her first acting performance.
Composer and musician Laura Hyland has followed Els’s film work since the origins of The Black Lamb in 2012. Several months ago, Els asked her to write a song for The Rabbit and the Teasel. While composing, Laura kept American folk tradition in the back of her mind but relied primarily on the sound of deprivation and nature that shimmers through her ‘particular’ Irish/British folk tradition.
The voice-over is performed by Liam Heffernan, known from Irish television series such as The Clash of the Ash (1987), Strength and Honour (2007), and Deich Coisceim (2000).
As a filmmaker, Dietvorst honours the creeds of directors Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Werner Herzog. For this ‘experiment on the outside’, as she calls it, Dietvorst steadily builds a relationship of trust with her protagonists – the residents of the surrounding countryside. In The Rabbit and the Teasel, autobiographical elements mingle with events from the past, present, and future. In a timeless setting, a contemporary parable unfolds, as enchanting as it is confronting.
Els Dietvorst studied at the Royal Academy Antwerp and graduated from Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts. Her work has been shown at MHKA (Antwerp), Witte De With (Rotterdam), the Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels), Kunsthalle Exnergasse (Vienna), La Source du Lion (Casablanca), Gallery Danielle Arnaud (London) and Nicole Klagsbrun (New York). In 2009 she curated the Time Festival in Ghent with Dirk Braeckman. She is a visiting lecturer at IT Carlow-Wexford Campus, KUL (Leuven) and the KASK in Ghent.
Written & directed by: Els Dietvorst,
Co-production: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater
Production: Tondo Films
With support from: Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds