A film by Dora García
2013, 53 minutes
No. 219

James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake has long been considered one of the most difficult texts in the English Language. This utterly absorbing and fascinating documentary, directed by Dora Garcia (Segunda Vez), follows a small but dedicated group of Joyce devotees who have been reading the book together for the last thirty years.  

The group reads the book again and again, each course from first to last page taking eleven years. Once they arrive to the last word, a very enigmatic “the,” they start all over again, following with the first word, “riverrun.” The text seems inexhaustible, its interpretation endless, the inconclusive nature of the reading exciting.

By following the group’s discussion of the text, showing heavily annotated and timeworn copies of the book, the film doesn’t just highlight the significance of Finnegan’s Wake but also the all-consuming power of art.

Official Selection, CPH:DOX
Official Selection, FID Marseille
Official Selection, True / False Film Fest
Official Selection, International Film Festival Rotterdam

The Joycean Society struck me as Room 237 [a documentary on the multiple interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining] for the literary set—its subjects have plunged themselves so deeply into the choppy waters of Jimmy J.’s prose that they sometimes forget to come up for breath.”
– Cinema Scope

“A riveting-against-all-odds document detailing the meetings, in a remote Swiss location, of a group involved in an ongoing collective close-read of Finnegan’s Wake."
– Frieze

"Delightful. An accessible, original, amusing and thought-provoking enterprise.” 
– Hollywood Reporter

“This surprising, charming film is as much an homage to the group’s dedication as it is a salute to Joyce’s destruction of language.” 
Sight & Sound

"Dora García has made an irresistible portrait of this 'Joycean Society' in this very well crafted documentary. One of the most stimulating short films in this last decade." 

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