Film opens Cinegael’s 24th season
By Byron Toben
Montreal’s Cinegael is the largest Irish film festival in North America. Unlike the others here, it is not a concentrated event compressed into seven or ten consecutive days. Rather it is spread out from late January to early May. Its exciting 24th anniversary opened on January 22 with a truly powerful and inspirational 2015 film, Noble, which has played theatrically in the USA, but not yet in Canada.
The subject is the life of Christina Noble, who overcame many trials and tribulations in a gritty early life in late forties-fifties Ireland, eased only now and then by her talented pub singing emulating her idol, American actor and singer Doris Day.
In midlife crisis, her own children grown, she used her meagre savings to travel to Viet Nam, devastated pictures of which during that war on TV instilled in her a vague notion that somehow, her destiny lay there. She befriended a number of homeless waifs, met a government orphanage manager and succeeded in obtaining a temporary work permit to help establish a social and medical center, which has now grown into the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation with branches throughout Viet Nam and Mongolia. As many as 700,000 have now been aided.
… she used her meagre savings to travel to Viet Nam, devastated pictures of which during that war on TV instilled in her a vague notion that somehow, her destiny lay there.
She also received an OBE from the Queen. “Sweet are the uses of adversity” penned Wm. Shakespeare centuries ago.
Despite the sad and harrowing scenes in the film, there are alleviating bits of humour to balance and some neat Doris Day tunes (click to hear Dream a Little Dream of Me).
The Segal Centre is about to open The Secret Annex which ponders What if Anne Frank has survived WW II ? Like Christina, Anne’s hopes were kept afloat by her idolization of another popular Hollywood singer, Winnipeg born Deanna Durbin.
Three wonderful Irish actresses portray Christina at various ages: Gloria Cramer-Curtis as a little child, Sarah Greene in middle years and the incredible Deirdre O’Kane as the grown lady who never gives up.
Cinegael continues with showings on February 5 and 19, March 4, April 1, 22-23 and closing gala May 5.
Images: courtesy of Cinegael
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.