“An unsettling glimpse at the capability of humanity’s hatred toward one another.” — Jimmy Martin, SLUG Magazine

Director: Ian Palmer
Year: 2011
Country: UK
Running time: 93 mins
Censor Rating: R16 - violence, offensive language

Producers: Ian Palmer, Teddy Leifer
Photography: Michael Doyle, Ian Palmer
Editor: Ollie Huddleston
Music: Ilan Eshkeri, Essica Dannheisser


With: James Quinn McDonagh, Paddy Quinn McDonagh, Michael Quinn McDonagh

Festivals: Sundance 2011

This decade-spanning chronicle of bare-knuckle fighting between two feuding families in Ireland is like an anthropological study. In the centre of this fracas are the Quinn McDonagh and Joyce broods, hardened Travellers. Director Ian Palmer began recording their bizarre and bloody fisticuffs in 1997 in an attempt to trace the conflict’s origin. Standing tall, bald and hard is unbeaten James Quinn McDonagh, who, after pounding on countless Joyces, begins to question the cycle of violence. Younger bro Michael has grown up in James’ shadow and now wants a rematch with Paul Joyce, a monster of a man who beat him nine years earlier. The rituals before the skirmishes take on a religious fervour, in stark contrast to the juvenile am-cam movies the clans goad each other with. At its meaty core, KNUCKLE provides insight into the fatalism of their conflict but stays watchable through the sheer force of its hilarious and sad, larger-than-life personalities. — AT