Song of Granite
M/A/D | Music/Art/Design
A treat for hibernophiles and fans of traditional folk music alike, Pat Collins’ innovative biography of celebrated Irish sean-nós singer Joe Heaney features stunning renditions of selections from Heaney’s 500-song repertoire, performed by a talented cast of contemporary Irish singers, alongside archival footage of Heaney himself. Seamlessly combining elements of narrative, documentary and lyrical filmmaking, and shot in sumptuous monochrome amid the austere beauty of Ireland’s Galway coast, this is no paint-by-numbers biopic; rather, it is that rare tribute to an artist that aspires to be as boldly creative as its subject. The film wastes little time with standard biographical tropes, choosing instead to conjure a portrait of Heaney through evocative fragments from his childhood in Ireland, his time working as a labourer in Glasgow and London, and his eventual relocation to New York. Throughout every stage of his life, there is music: listening in as his father records traditional songs for a travelling ethnographer, tentatively performing for neighbours in his tiny home village, wistfully singing in pubs with fellow homesick expats, and, finally, standing on stage in front of enraptured audiences around the world.
"Posits Irish folk music as a mythic oral tradition, greater than any one individual could transcend. Heaney’s story shows that this is music that doesn’t originate with a spark but is carefully honed over the course of centuries, manifesting itself in magnetic talents."—Steve Greene, IndieWire