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THE 6th ANNUAL IRISH FILM FESTIVAL AUSTRALIA GOES ONLINE
Popular annual Irish Film Festival Australia returns for its 6th edition from 19 – 29 November with its biggest line-up ever. Moved online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, cinephiles all over Australia can now catch the best new Irish cinema releases without leaving their couches.
The online festival program is packed with award-winning dramas, documentaries, Irish-language features and comedies direct from Ireland, with no fewer than 11 Australian premieres.
Festival highlights include horror-comedy, Extra Ordinary starring comedian Maeve Higgins as a driving instructor in Tullamore with supernatural powers; urban drama, Rialto, which won Best Actor/Writer gongs for powerhouse duo, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Mark O’Halloran at the IFTAs (Irish Film & TV Awards); and searing gangster thriller, Calm With Horses starring rising Hollywood star, Barry Keoghan.
Online Q&A’s with several of the film’s directors and some surprise guests will complement the impressive film line-up. The festival has also proudly partnered with Irish-run food & beverage providers to bring the taste of home to living rooms across Australia.
Dr Enda Murray, Director of the Irish Film Festival said, “We are delighted to be presenting these great Irish stories online to an Australian audience. It’s a tough time for the Irish diaspora, many of whom have missed trips home this year and I hope the Irish Film Festival can bring some Gaelic sunshine to Australia in these dark times!”
The official opening night film is the horror-comedy, Extra Ordinary. Starring Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward, the plot centres around a sweet, lonely driving instructor in Tullamore who possesses supernatural powers. Throw in a one-hit-wonder rock star who has made a pact with the devil, a levitating teenage girl and a love story and you’re in for some extraordinarily quirky entertainment.
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Love/Hate, Avengers: Endgame, Maze) stars in the contemporary, urban drama, Rialto, which is set in Dublin’s docklands. Colm (played by Vaughan-Lawlor) is in his mid-40s and leads a comfortable life with two teenage children and a kind, loyal wife. But the death of his father sends his life into turmoil and, struggling with his loss, he finds himself in a same-sex relationship for the first time. Rialto was part of the Official Selection at The Venice Film Festival 2019 & at the BFI London Film Festival 2019.
Calm with Horses is a tough and gritty drama featuring a violent family of gangsters in rural Ireland. Standover man Douglas Armstrong’s loyalties are tested when he is asked to kill for the first time. Features Barry Keoghan (Love/Hate, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), Cosmo Jarvis (Lady Macbeth, Hunter Killer) and Liam Carney (Braveheart, The Commitments, Gangs of New York).
Dark Lies the Island is written by award-winning Irish author, Kevin Barry and based around characters he created for his own short story collection. Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, this dark twisted comedy plays out in a small Irish town in County Roscommon. It features a star-studded cast: Charlie Murphy (Love/Hate, Peaky Blinders, Happy Valley), Peter Coonan (Love/Hate, The Bridge), and comedians Pat Shortt and Tommy Tiernan.
Monster (Arracht) follows the plight of Colmán, a ﬁsherman, father, and husband, living on the wild shores of Connemara in 1845 when The Great Hunger descends. As land taxes rise and crops rot, Colmán confronts his landlord. But the night ends in deadly violence, forcing Colmán to go on the run, hunted for crimes he did not commit. Gaelic with English sub-titles.
Comedy, The Last Right follows the plight of successful businessman Daniel Murphy, when he is entrusted with the coffin of a man he barely knows in this riotous black comedy. Daniel must transport the coffin from Cork to Donegal for the burial, but there are more than a few bumps in the road. Features Niamh Algar (Raised by Wolves, The Virtues), Colm Meaney, Brian Cox (The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Bourne Identity, X-Men 2) and Michael McElhatten (The Fall, Game of Thrones). Directed by Aoife Crehan.
Poster Boys is a warm-hearted comedy about a metrosexual Kilkenny man who works for a dodgy poster company and with the help of his cheeky but loveable nephew steals a camper-van and embarks on a cross country road trip to try to get his life back on track. Poster Boys was part of the Special Selection at the 32nd Galway Film Fleadh.
Sé Mo Laoch (He is My Hero) Steve Cooney
This lively, music-filled documentary is about Australian-Irish musician, Steve Cooney. Melbourne born Cooney is widely regarded as one of the best traditional guitarists in Ireland today and has played with Stockton’s Wing, the Chieftains, Altan and Clannad.
When Women Won
A touching documentary about the Referendum on the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which resulted in a win for women’s rights. Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws had been regularly criticised by a number of international human rights bodies. The repeal of the article of the Constitution allowed Government to change Ireland’s laws on abortion, which up until then had been illegal unless a woman’s life was at substantial risk. The documentary won the Special Jury Prize at the Irish Film Festival in Boston earlier this year.
The Ballymurphy Precedent
Award-winning director Callum Macrae’s new feature documentary explores the deaths of eleven civilians killed by the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment of the British Army on a Catholic housing estate in Belfast in 1971 – five months before the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.
Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens
A touching tribute to one of Ireland’s greatest contemporary writers, Seamus Heaney. Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.” It also acts as a history of the Irish ‘Troubles’ in words and verse, and what that experience was like for people who lived through it.
Endless Sunshine on a Cloudy Day
John Connors’ emotionally raw film traces the true story of Ireland’s online star blogger Jade McCann who documented her own cancer diagnosis and that of her father’s diagnosis online. Connors, who shot to fame for his performance in Irish TV drama Love/Hate, is a proud member of Ireland’s Traveller Community. He has successfully made the transition from actor to director and took his one-man show, Ireland’s Call to Australia in 2019.
The 2020 Online Festival also features a program of short films, which have been carefully selected from the festival’s Irish Diaspora Short Film Competition, devoted solely to directors from the global Irish diaspora. The competition encouraged people of Irish descent to share their migrant experience and express their Irishness through the medium of film. The short feature titles include the Best Australian Short Film, Wine Lake, directed by Platon Theodoris, as well as the Best Overseas Short Film, What Betty Sees, directed by UK-based Colleen Forward.
When: 19-29th November 2020
Tickets: Single tickets: $10-15. Three film pass: $35. Festival pass: $115.*
Purchase tickets: www.irishfilmfestival.com.au
The Short Film Program and two 50 minute documentaries: When Women Won and Sé Mo Laoch (He’s My Hero) are priced at $10. All other single tickets are $15. Ticket numbers are limited, so booking early is advised so as to avoid disappointment.
For more information & for the full program of events:
www.irishfilmfestival.com.au Facebook: Irish Film Festival Australia
Twitter: @irishfilmfestau Instagram: @irishfilmfestau
The 13th edition of the IRISH FILM FESTA should have taken place from 25th to 29th March 2020 at the Casa del Cinema in Rome, but – as many other events – it had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 spreading. The programme included as always both feature films and short films, meetings and masterclasses and a literary section.
The online event IRISH FILM FESTA in short does not replace the actual experience of the festival, for which the presence of the Irish artists has always been and still is crucial. The initiative comes from the desire to continue to offer to the Italian audience – even if on a smaller scale – a window on contemporary Irish cinema and on one of its most vibrant sector: the short film.
The competitive section, reserved for short films produced or co-produced in Ireland, features two categories this year: Live Action and Animation. «Quite a challenging selection for us this year. Sadly, some valuable short films had to be cut out. We are once again delighted to see how remarkable the short film industry has become in Ireland, as well as to recognize some familiar faces in the competitive line-up: from Moe Dunford to Kate O’Toole, Martin McCann, Ian McElhinney, and also Pat Shortt, Stuart Graham, Gary Lydon» says artistic director Susanna Pellis.
New Irish Shorts
Among the Live Action programme of IRISH FILM FESTA in short there is Cynthia by Jack Hickey, best short drama at the Galway Film Fleadh 2019: a dinner party with old friends takes a shocking turn as revelations are made and the past resurfaces. The theatre actress Claire Dunne has the title role; Moe Dunford is also in the cast.
In the same category stand out Ciúnas (Silence) by Tristan Heanue, which depicts with sensitivity a terrible family crisis lead by the great performance by Gary Lydon. Heanue is not new to IRISH FILM FESTA: he presented Today in 2017 and A Break in the Clouds in 2018. Moreover, in the tense drama Break Us by Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair, a young couple of robbers discover what they are really made of as things go awry.
Gary Lydon in Ciúnas by Tristan Heanue
La Petite Mort is the ironic directorial debut of actor Michael Smiley (Jawbone, The Lobster): a man and a woman meet by chance in a park, but things are not what they seem. Surprise ending for Was That a Yes? by Ray Mac Donnacha as well: a romantic date turns out a disaster.
Michael-David McKernan writes, directs and stars in Halo: a lonesome taxi driver shares a night of changes with a passenger; in Sophia Tamburrini’s Maya, a man (Pat Shortt, seen in Garage by Lenny Abrahamson) living in an idyllic simulated world is forced to return to a life he sought desperately to escape.
Made in Northern Ireland
As always, IRISH FILM FESTA focuses on Northern Ireland’s film industry as well: four short films in competition this year. The Appointment by David Moody (already in competition twice: in 2018 with Listen and in 2019 with Camlo) tells the story of a young man and his ill mother. On the contrary, Michael McDowell’s Father Father is a funny comedy about the hypocrisy of a small town with Ian McElhinney and Martin McCann as brilliant protagonists.
Ian McElhinney and Martin McCann in Father Father by Michael McDowell
Also, Paul Kennedy comes back at IRISH FILM FESTA (Made in Belfast in 2014) with Parting Gift in which Stuart Graham is a homeless who makes an unusual friendship with a girl; in Ruby by Michael Creagh, Dan Gordon and Kate O’Toole celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
The Live Action category presents also two documentaries. The Vasectomy Doctor by Paul Webster which tells the story of Andrew Rynne, the first Irish doctor to perform vasectomy, who risked his life because of his work. The Grass Ceiling by Iseult Howlett celebrates the value of female team sport through the experiences of three athletes.
The Grass Ceiling by Iseult Howlett
As for techniques and themes, the Animation section is indeed various. Adam H. Stewart combines silhoutte animation with complex digital background in Abe’s Story, winner of Best Animated Sequence in A Short Film at Galway Film Fleadh 2019. Aidan McAteer presents Streets of Fury (Best Animation at Galway Film Fleadh 2019): friendship and redemption with an 80s videogame aesthetic.
Them, by the Berlin-based Irish filmaker Robin Lochmann, combines motion capture with handcrafted miniatures depicting the dangers of ideologies and conformism. On the contrary, Jessica Patterson chooses traditional animation for The Wiremen: it narrates the first arrival of electricity in rural Ireland as a fairytale. Voiced by Ruth McCabe and Barry Ward.
Finally, Archie’s Bat is the diploma work of Shannon Egan, graduated from the Limerick School of Art & Design: 2D animation telling the story of a friendship between a kid and a bat.
The Wiremen directed by Jessica Patterson
Out of Competition
Last but not least, out of competition, A Concrete Song: inspired by Hard to Be Soft, a performance series by choreographer Oona Doherty, this short film is made by Dave Tynan in collaboration with the Belfast International Arts Festival, the Dublin Dance Festival and Abbey Theatre.
The online event IRISH FILM FESTA in short is organized with the support of Culture Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland to Italy, and in collaboration with Network Ireland Television.
We caught up with our international festival partners, along with Culture Ireland, at the Galway Film Fleadh to discuss new approaches to the global programming of Irish films, and of course to see lots of new Irish films. Highlights included features The Dig, Metal Heart, Good Favour and Black 47, and documentaries Katie, The Man Who Wanted to Fly, The Image You Missed and I, Dolours.
Katie – Ross Whitaker’s documentary was a resounding success at Galway Film Fleadh
L-R: Matt Watson (Council Member, District 11 Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Katie Pryor (Executive Director Film Baton Rouge), Patrick Mulhearn (Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives Louisiana Economic Development), Rua Meegan (Man to Man short film), Laura McDavitt Co-Chair Baton Rouge Irish Film Festival, Hugh Gormley (Man to Man short film) Photo: Scot McDavitt
We’re very proud to collaborate with the San Sebastian Film Festival on a major retrospective of the work of UK film director Muriel Box and are contributing Irish feature This Other Eden from the Irish Film Archive. The retrospective will then travel to the Filmoteca Española in Madrid and Valencia, and to the Festival Lumière in Lyon.
The British & Irish Film Season in Luxembourg, running from the 19th to 29th of September, sees several Irish films attended by their respective directors: Black 47 (Lance Daly), Good Favour, (Rebecca Daly), The Camino Voyage (Dónal Ó Céilleachair), In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America (Maurice Fitzpatrick), and Grá & Eagla (Áine Gallagher). Also screening are The Drummer and the Keeper, Inside I’m Racing, Shelter Me: Apollo House, and The Flag, alongside an equally impressive selection of British films.
Rebecca Daly’s Good Favour is screening at the Luxembourg British and Irish Season in September
Also taking place in September, from the 27th to 29th, is the San Francisco Irish Film Festival, hosting Song of Granite, The Breadwinner and Michael Inside, and a programme of new Irish short films.
Our most northerly partnership is with the Irish Festival of Oulu, taking place from 3rd to 8th October in northern Finland, with screenings of Inside I’m Racing, Kila: Pota Óir, Anseo i Lár an Ghleanna / In the Shadow of the Glen, Revolutions, In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America and Song of Granite, alongside a fine programme of Irish music and dance.
Dafhyd Flynn in Frank Berry’s acclaimed Michael Inside, screening at the San Francisco Irish Festival in October
Liam Neeson and Hugh O’Conor in the 1985 classic Lamb, screening as part of Culture Ireland’s GB18 programme at the Liverpool Irish Festival in the George Lees Building in association with Empty Spaces Cinema.
The flagship Irish Film Festival in London, which recently announced Colin Farrell as its newest patron, will take place from the 21st to 25th of November with its programme of contemporary Irish films soon to be revealed.
A full list of IFI International events can be found on our website.
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IFI International facilitated 80 events in 30 countries worldwide in 2017 ensuring Irish film reached a wider audience than ever on the cultural festival circuit. 2018 kicked off with a new festival, the Fenians, Fremantle and Freedom Festival in Western Australia, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the landing of the last convict ship, and now we look ahead to St. Patrick’s Day during the busiest month of the year for Irish film festivals around the globe with 30 events taking place.
Both Chicago Irish Film Festival and Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington took place from the 1st to the 4th of March with a successful programme of film which included Oscar-nominated animation The Breadwinner, and documentary feature In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America.
Belgrade Irish Festival, 9th to 11th of March, goes from strength to strength and this year boasts an eclectic programme of Serbian premieres including Song of Granite, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, and Moscow Never Sleeps along with a wide range of concerts, literary events and photography exhibitions.
Song of Granite – opening film at Belgrade Irish Film Week on 13th March
Revolutions showing at Shebeen Flick Irish Film Festival Berlin
Barry Ward as Gordon Close in Maze, showing in Moscow, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Australia. Photo © Marcin Lewandowski
Following successful ciné-concerts in Glasgow and Dundee last month, Culture Ireland’s GB18 film programme continues with a screening of Sidney Olcott’s 1923 silent film Little Old New York, with live accompaniment at London’s Barbican on the 18th of March. The ciné-concert will travel to the Irish Arts Center in New York and American Film Institute in Washington on the 17th and 18th of AprilThe line-up for the Irish Film Festival in Boston, from the 22nd to 25th of March, includes two Irish-language documentaries, the poignant result of emigration evident in Anseo i Lár an Ghleanna / In the Shadow of the Glen, and the portrait of traditional Irish musician in Noel Hill: Aisling Ghéar. Equally compelling are Alex Gibney’s No Stone Unturned and award-winning Voyager documentary The Farthest with director Emer Reynolds in attendance, and director Alex Mulligan is the guest for his screening of The Limit Of.
Check our calendar regularly for updates on IFI International screenings of Irish film around the globe!
IFI International is the IFI’s Irish Film Programming service for international exhibitors, and is supported by Culture Ireland. For more information, please contact
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