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New documentary on Knock to open in cinemas in August

By editor - 24 July, 2016

Film provides a fascinating, vibrant portrait of the Co Mayo shrine through a vast patchwork of individuals and groups.

‘Strange Occurrences in a small Irish village’

A new Irish feature documentary on Knock shrine is set to open in Irish cinemas at the end of August.

‘Strange Occurrences in a small Irish village’ is the work of Underground Films, the company behind the award-winning ‘One Million Dubliners’ which focused on Glasnevin cemetery.

The film is directed by Aoife Kelleher who explained that the film’s title is derived from the international press coverage at the time of the apparition.

In August 1879, fifteen people in the small Co Mayo village of Knock claimed to witness an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

After two official inquiries, the village was declared a Marian shrine.

Today, Knock’s 2,000 residents welcome over one million pilgrims annually.

The film develops a fascinating, vibrant portrait of the phenomenon by examining the vast patchwork of individuals and groups involved.

These include invalids seeking miraculous cures; the sibling owners of rival religious merchandise shops; Knock local, Mildred who is determined to secure a more prominent role for the shrine’s Handmaids; the intriguing staff of the Knock Marriage Bureau, a throwback to old matchmaking days that still rings true today; and Fr Richard Gibbons, charming and ambitious parish priest, committed to enticing new US visitors via Knock Airport.

The film allows believers celebrate the phenomenon of the apparition and those who facilitate its ongoing popularity, while providing sceptics with a fascinating insight into the thriving world, and business, of Ireland’s Marian shrine.

“It’s very important that every generation interrogate the stories that are passed down to them, and look at them afresh, and decide for themselves whether they should be embraced and preserved or discarded,” director Aoife Kelleher commented.

“The story itself is so fantastic that you completely want to get to the bottom of it. You want to know what it is that they saw and how it was spoken about at the time.”

Kelleher added, “It’s a documentary about religion rather than a religious documentary. At the very heart of Knock is this story about an apparition, but in making the documentary we wanted to look at the apparition in its social context and its historical context.”

‘Strange Occurrences in a small Irish village’ is an Underground Films production in association with RTÉ and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in association with Shoot for the Moon and Bord Scannán na hÉireann /The Irish Film Board.

The film is released in Irish cinemas on 26 August. For more information: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/knockfilm/ and Twitter: @ugfilms#knockfilm

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