From Belfast to Bamako: cinema in the era of capitalist realism

Stephen Baker, Greg McLaughlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers two very different types of cinematic response to the ‘triumph’ of global capitalism. It looks first of all at two films from Northern Ireland where the peace process has been underwritten by a ‘peace dividend’ that proposes the region’s incorporation into the global free market after years of violent civil conflict made its full membership of that society impossible. Fittingly, films such as The Boxer (Jim Sheridan, 1996) and Divorcing Jack (David Caffery, 1998) offer stories of romantic restoration in which their protagonists escape from poisonous and deadly political spheres to the sanctuary of ‘home’. In this way both films concur with the ‘official’ narrative of the peace process, which, on the evidence of these films at least, is one that is imagined in terms of passive domesticity and a deep antipathy to politics, qualities that shouldingratiate the region with global capitalism. This is in sharp contrast to Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako (2006), made in the wake of the G8 conference at Gleneagles in 2005. It contrives a court case in the backyard of a multi-occupancy house in the eponymous Malian capital and puts on trial the IMF and World Bank, indicting them for the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) that force upon African countries punitive public spending cuts, privatisation and the free market. This improbable courtroom drama intertwines with the everyday lives of the residents living around the yard, in a way that does not allow an easy separation of politics and domestic life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIreland and Cinema: Culture and Contexts
EditorsBarry Monahan
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-49635-5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016


  • film
  • Northern Ireland
  • capitalism


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