Louis Lentin

(11/12/1933 - 22/07/2014)

Louis Lentin, a visionary theatre, film, and television director who is buried in the Jewish Cemetery on Aughavanagh Road.

Louis was born on 11 December 1933 in Limerick, Ireland, emerged as a stalwart figure in the Irish arts scene, contributing over four decades to theatre, film, and television. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, with a Bachelor of Arts in 1956, Lentin’s artistic journey commenced in 1959 when he founded Art Theatre Productions, catalysing the first Irish productions of iconic works like Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame.

His foray into television, at the behest of RTÉ head of drama Hilton Edwards, marked a turning point. In 1975, Lentin earned a Jacob’s Award for his exceptional direction of three television plays, showcasing his versatility across genres: Aleksei Arbuzov’s The Promise, Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, and Jean Anouilh’s The Rehearsal.

Beyond borders, Lentin played a pivotal role in the establishment of Israeli television, reflecting a global dimension to his career. As a member of Aosdána, he straddled various cultural realms, embodying a commitment to artistic excellence.

Lentin’s directorial prowess manifested in an array of impactful productions, each delving into societal narratives and historical events. Noteworthy among them is the drama-documentary “Ár Dover Féin,” a poignant exploration of the 1937 Kirkintilloch Bothy disaster. This production, funded by TG4, The Gaelic Broadcasting Committee, and Bord Scannán na hÉireann, garnered acclaim and accolades, including a Second Prize Gold Plaque at WorldFest Houston.

His extensive repertoire included “The Work of Angels?….the Book of Kells,” a captivating film unravelling the mysteries of the famous illuminated manuscript, and “No More Blooms,” a documentary examining Ireland’s stance on the Jewish Refugee Problem (1933–46). The latter, funded by RTÉ, earned a Creative Excellence award at the 1998 US International Film and Television Festival.

In 1996, Lentin presented the groundbreaking documentary “Dear Daughter,” narrating the harrowing experiences of Christine Buckley in Goldenbridge Orphanage. This impactful film, employing a unique blend of dramatisation and interviews, garnered international recognition, winning the 1996 Creative Excellence award.

Lentin’s commitment to shedding light on societal injustices continued with “Stolen Lives,” a trilogy of documentaries delving into the enduring impact of abuse in Irish Industrial Schools (1940s–1970s). Aired on TV3, these documentaries, including “Our Boys’ Stories” and “We Were Only Children,” contributed to public awareness and investigations into institutional abuse.

The esteemed director also ventured into drama with “Tales from the Poorhouse/Scéalta Ó Theach na mBocht,” a thought-provoking exploration of the human realities during the Great Famine, earning nominations at Banff Television and Silver Screen Awards in 1999.

Lentin’s enduring contribution extended to his documentary “Grandfather, speak to me in Russian” (2007), where he delved into his family’s Jewish heritage, uncovering stories of displacement and identity. The documentary, produced in collaboration with his son Miki, encapsulated the complex interplay of being both Irish and Jewish.

In 2014, the arts community mourned Louis Lentin’s passing at the age of 80. His remarkable legacy, interwoven with narratives of resilience, injustice, and cultural identity, endures through the lens of his groundbreaking productions, leaving an indelible imprint on Ireland’s artistic landscape.

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