Ammoniac City (1982, Arthur MacCaig) – French without subtitles

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When the British Foreign office warned its embassies that The Patriot Game, a new documentary about the Northern Irish Troubles, was “damaging and highly critical of Her Majesty’s Government,” director Arthur MacCaig welcomed it as “the best review I ever had.” MacCaig, a leftist Irish-American, had been inspired by the stark disparity he perceived between the tribal, religious conflict he saw depicted in the media, and what he experienced on the ground as a struggle between “the colonizer and the colonized.” Produced as his graduate film from the French film school IDHEC, with assistance from Chris Marker’s radical film collective Iskra, The Patriot Game is a searingly intense history of the conflict rooted in an unapologetically socialist point of view and distinguished by MacCaig’s rare insider access to the Provisional IRA.

Directed by Arthur MacCaig
Cinematography by Arthur MacCaig & Theo Robichet
Sound by Olivier Schwob & Dominique Hennenin
Edited by Arthur MacCaig & Dominique Greussay
Narrated by Winnie Marshall

“Thorough and thoughtful… Mr. MacCaig’s film, by dissecting the situation so coolly, helps emphasize the anguish, the bitterness and the confusion. Regardless of how one may feel about its politics, it is a worthy and well made documentary.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times

“The best overview of the Northern Irish conflict that we’ve seen… a lucid and knowledgeable introduction put together with skill and sensitivity.”—B. Ruby Rich, Chicago Reader

“This extraordinary and moving documentary reviews ten years of armed warfare by the IRA and places today’s headlines in their proper political and economic context. Through vivid footage of street battles and interviews with participants, THE PATRIOT GAME forcefully debunks the twin myths that the IRA is a ‘terrorist organization’ fighting ‘a religious war.'”—Kevin J. Kelley, The Guardian

“An excellent example of political cinema, rich in emotional images, a film which is both tender and powerful.”—Morando Morandini, Il Giorno (Milan)

“Informative, vivid, and partisan. The footage of urban guerillas is extraordinary. I’ve seen a number of films on Northern Ireland, none have depicted the situation this graphically.”—J. Hoberman, Village Voice

“An important historical background to the Irish War.”—Gordon Hitchens, Variety

“THE PATRIOT GAME captures the raw spirit of Irish nationalist resistance and shows, for the first time, incidents which the British media have steadfastly refused to show.”—Virginia Dignam, Morning Star (London)

“Powerful, dynamic… Extremely detailed presentation of the troubles in Northern Ireland. As an interpretation of the Republican view, it is excellent, accurate and moving.”—EFLA Evaluations


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