Song for a Raggy Boy

Director: Aisling Walsh
Screenwriters: Patrick Galvin

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Writer/director Aisling Walsh delivers clear, unflinching realism to Song for a Raggy Boy, the true story of one man's courage to stand up and fight the tough fascist regime in a boys' Irish reformatory school in 1939.

William Franklin (Aidan Quinn) arrives at St. Judes, the only lay teacher among a staff of Catholic brothers. He is quick to realize his teaching methods are diametrically opposed to those of the brothers, who revert to the use of verbal and physical abuse. Franklin succeeds in building a trusting relationship with the boys, which enables him to unlock their hidden talents and open their minds to the beauty of poetry. But Franklin has memories of his own that plague him from the Spanish Civil War, and when two boys are severely beaten on Christmas Day, it is more than he can bear, and he goes head-to-head with brutal prefect Brother John (Iain Glen).

A splendid cast features complex performances, especially in the heartbreaking new faces of the young wards yearning for hope. Song for a Raggy Boy is particularly timely as the Catholic Church in Ireland faces unprecedented scrutiny as an institution long sacrosanct from the abuses tolerated in its ranks.

Screening Details

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