Previously at the ICA - Films

Pádraig Trehy, Shem The Penman Sings Again, 2015

Shem The Penman Sings Again + Intro

14 Aug 2016

This screening is introduced by critic and film curator Colm McAuliffe (The Guardian, Sight and Sound, New Statesman)

Shem The Penman Sings Again deals with the actual and much fabled friendship of James Joyce and John McCormack. The world-renowned writer and the extraordinary tenor first met in 1904 when Joyce still had hopes of becoming a professional singer himself. They reconnected in Paris in the 1920s and Joyce was to use his first-hand knowledge of McCormack to create the character of Shaun the Post in his famously ‘unreadable’ final novel, Finnegans Wake. As Joyce struggled with the book, he portrayed himself in it as Shaun’s lowly twin brother, Shem.

Joyce’s twin obsessions, singing and literary experimentation, flow through the film as his and McCormack’s encounters are reimagined in a variety of early cinematic styles, interrupted by four short films-within-the-film charting the exploits of Shem and Shaun. As Joyce’s eyesight fails, the narrative is carried by a mix of archive recordings and imaginary radio broadcasts, giving us an emotional connection to an increasingly isolated Joyce.

Shem the Penman Sings again, dir. Pádraig Trehy, Ireland 2015, 80 mins

The ICA Cinemas are completely ad-free. Please note the feature will start following a selection of trailers and information relevant to the ICA programme. All films are 18+ unless otherwise stated

Please note that a three minute short film will be screened before the first main feature every evening. Part of a rotating selection that changes weekly, the films shown are currently on tour to various arts venues across the country as part of Playback

Enjoy great films for even less with ICA Membership. Every Tuesday, Cinema tickets are just £3 for ICA Members (£6 full price). Learn more about becoming an ICA Member from as little as £10

Sign up to our film newsletter to find out what’s coming up


E.g., 19-03-2018
E.g., 19-03-2018