Mark O’Connor’s hard-hitting independent Irish drama Cardboard Gangsters enjoyed its international premiere at the 3rd Manchester International Film Festival over the weekend and won three of the main awards at the festival. The film picked up Best Feature Film, Best Overall Film, and Best Actor for lead John Connors. It also received special jury mentions for O’Connor’s Direction and Screenplay, and for Michael Lavelle’s Cinematography.

Cardboard Gangsters follows a group of wannabe cardboard gangsters as they attempt to gain control of the drug trade in Darndale, chasing the glorified lifestyle of money, power and sex. Jay Connolly is a part-time DJ and low-level drug dealer in North Dublin, an area victimised by gangs, drugs and social problems. When his welfare is cut off he decides it’s time for him and his gang to enter the big leagues. This attracts the attention of the local King Pin and sets Jay down a violent and bloody path.

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Director O’Connor and star John Connors co-wrote the script, having worked together on Stalker and King of the Travellers. Connors is joined on the acting side by Jimmy Smallhorne, Kierston Wareing (Fish Tank), Fionn Walton (What Richard Did), Damien Dempsey (Between the Canals), Denise McCormack (Love/Hate) Paul Roe (Adam and Paul), Stephen Clinch (Between the Canals), and Corey McKinley (’71), with support from Aaron Blake O’Connell (Bully), Gemma-Leah Devereux (How to Be Happy), Toni O’Rourke (Noble), Fiona Hewitt Twamley, Paul Alright, Ryan Lincoln, and Ciaran McCabe (Bully).

Cardboard Gangsters is produced by Richard Bolger for Five Knight Films, in association with O’Connor’s Stalker Films. DoP was Michael Lavelle (Patrick’s Day), with post-production taking place at Egg Post in Dublin. The film is funded by the BAI, Filmbase, and TV3. It will be released via Wildcard Distribution later this year.

The Manchester International Film Festival 2017’s main theme of “The Rising Talent of Independent Cinema”, not just from the UK but from around the world, offered a line-up of some 90 plus films that were showcased in Manchester from March 2nd to 5th.

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