A rare and invaluable document of Ireland on the verge of modernity, Peter Lennon’s Rocky Road to Dublin created a scandal at home upon its initial appearance in the late ’60s. Almost four decades on, it remains a blisteringly cogent yet subtly affectionate critique of a society that, nearly a half century after gaining independence from Britain, remained very much under the thumb of a socially conservative clergy. Beautifully shot in somber black and white by legendary cinematographer Raoul Coutard, Rocky Road systematically attacks every major institution in Irish life, from the church-run schools to the censors (a list of banned writers contains a damning number of Nobel laureates) and the pubs. It closed after only a few weeks in a single Dublin theater, but Lennon’s central theme, spelled out early in the film as “what to do with your revolution once you’ve got it,” resonated with audiences abroad.
On the same bill is Paul Duane’s 26-minute “The Making of Rocky Road to Dublin,” which details the doc’s enthusiastic reception in France, where it became the last movie to play at the infamous 1968 Cannes Film Festival before it was shut down in solidarity with ongoing worker and student revolts. Made in 2004, the short includes vintage footage of Lennon arguing with Jean-Luc Godard at the Cannes screening, as well as recent interviews with Lennon and Coutard. (Opens Thu; Anthology.) — Joshua Land