Screened as part of NZIFF 2011

Knuckle 2011

Directed by Ian Palmer

Jaw-dropping (and -smashing) doco. “A brilliantly brutal and intriguingly insightful look into the bare-knuckle fights staged between a series of Irish Traveller families as they prolong a long-running feud.” — Screendaily

Ireland In English
93 minutes DigiBeta



Ian Palmer
Teddy Leifer


Michael Doyle
Ian Palmer


Ollie Huddleston


Ilan Eshkeri
Essica Dannheisser


James Quinn McDonagh
Paddy Quinn McDonagh
Michael Quinn McDonagh


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 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