School of Film Associate Professor Dustin Morrow’s new feature film recently made its streaming debut on Amazon Prime. Black Pool is a narrative thriller about Irish identity, particularly as it relates to the conflict in Northern Ireland, and how that identity is tied to questions about religion, politics, economics and culture. This historical conflict technically ended in April of 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, but the tension that exists between Catholic Unionists and Protestant Loyalists in Northern Ireland, even if now more subdued, is still very much alive. Brexit is also stressing the region, as it raises questions about the management of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Morrow’s film addresses such contemporary hot-button issues as immigration, imprisonment, and human rights, and continues his long history of exploring Irish cultural spaces through his creative work. Besides Black Pool, he has directed 13 short films and one feature-length documentary in Ireland; produced a longform public radio documentary about Irish music; written about Irish cinema for an Irish-American newspaper; and exhibited an Irish photo essay in group and solo exhibitions. He has also led multiple study abroad expeditions to Ireland, focused on writing, filmmaking, and Irish studies.
Black Pool screened at more than 30 festivals worldwide and picked up a dozen awards, including several “Best Film” trophies. It was funded in part by a Faculty Enhancement Grant from Portland State University and a Project Grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and was partially shot in Dublin and Belfast. It was picked up for distribution by Mutiny Pictures at the Cannes Film Festival.