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Die rote Hand von Ulster

Hans Erich Viet
Allemagne, 1999
Production : Viet Filmproduktion, NDR/ARTE

Anglais, Français


This documentary film, shot in 1996 and 1997, paints an authentic picture of the ongoing civil war situation in Northern Ireland. A life which fluctuates between normality, violence and unemployment. Very plain and normal people with a story to tell express their views. But what is normal in a country which knows no peace, and where violence dictates public and private life? Without allowing himself to be swayed by a particular party, Hans-Erich Viet observes a split society.

Tënk's film review

As Brexit introduces new uncertainties about the future relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, it’s worth taking a look back at the way things were in the British province before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement put an end to most of the violence during the three decades of sectarian strife in communities divided even amongst themselves by seemingly irreconcilable differences. And it’s both the extreme complexity and the fragility of the situation that this film brings home to us with its encounters with some of those especially exposed to the Irish conflict. Filmed at human height, in private or in action on terrain scarred by the ritualised provocations of one side and the desperate reactions of the other, their accounts outlining the hope of approaching peace also reveal all the difficulties of real political change in a climate that remains overdetermined by ancestral hatred and the actions of ultras from both sides.

Jürgen Ellinghaus

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Hans Erich Viet

Hans-Erich Viet was born in East Friesia in 1953. He studied Philosophy, Politics and Sociology of Art in Berlin and Belfast, graduating as a political scientist. He is also a graduate of the German Film & Television Academy in Berlin (dffb). His films include: "Schnaps im Wasserkessel" (documentary, 1991, Cinéma du Réel, Paris 1992), "Karniggels" (1991, co-director: Detlev Buck), "Frankie, Jonny und die anderen" (1993), "The Red Hand of Ulster" ("Die rote Hand von Ulster", documentary, 1996/1997), "Hostage Flight to Paradise" ("Geiselfahrt ins Paradies", 1997), "Schlange auf dem Altar" (1998), "Milk and Honey from Rotfront" ("Milch und Honig aus Rotfront", 2000, nominated for the German Film Award in 2001), "Traumfrau mit Verspätung" (TV, 2001). He also directed two episodes of the TV-series "Polizeiruf 110", the docu-fiction "Die Stunde der Offiziere" (2004) and the road movie documentary "Made in Deutschland" (2009). He was professor at the International Filmschool Köln / Cologne (IFS). His latest film ("The Last of the Jolly Boys", 2018), is a documentary shot over a period of four years with the Holocaust survivor Leon Schwarzbaum, now nearly 100 years of age.

Other films in the collection: History & Politics