The 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, which will run April 5th to 19th, has announced its full line-up which will feature four Irish feature films and one short. Aisling Walsh’s Maudie, Darren Thornton’s A Date for Mad Mary, and Nick Hamm’s The Journey join Neasa Ni Chianain and David Rane’s In Loco Parentis, which was previously announced as playing in competition at the festival. Vincent Gallagher’s animated short Second to None will also play at the festival.
Aisling Walsh’s Irish/Canadian co-production Maudie will screen as part of a tribute to its star Ethan Hawke, Hawke will be honoured at the festival for his extraordinary career. The film is based on the life of Nova Scotia folk artist, Maud Lewis, and is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family. She also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.
Maudie is directed by Song for a Raggy Boy director Walsh and written by Sherry White (Crackie, Relative Happiness).The film shot in Canada with Guy Godfree as cinematographer. Post-production took place in Windmill Lane, with Stephen O’Connell as editor. Susan Mullen of Parallel Film Productions produces, alongside Small Shack Productions, and Painted House Films. Financing comes from the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Mongrel Media, Telefilm Canada, Newfoundland Film Development Corporation, Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Harold Greenberg Fund, and Corner Piece Capital.
Director Darren Thornton will bring his brilliant Irish drama A Date for Mad Mary to the festival. The film tells the story of ‘Mad’ Mary McArdle returns to Drogheda after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is the Maid of Honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ for the wedding, on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary is determined to prove her wrong. She throws herself into the local dating scene, in the hope of finding a nice guy who’ll look good in a tux. But finding a date in a town where everyone knows your name and your reputation is not going to be easy…
The film stars an ensemble of young Irish actors including Seana Kerslake, Charleigh Bailey and Tara Lee as well as established talent including Denise McCormack and Norma Sheehan, and is written by brothers Darren & Colin Thornton. Kerslake has drawn great praise for her role and won the Bingham Ray New Talent award at the Galway Film Fleadh. A Date for Mad Mary is produced by Ed Guiney (The Guard, Frank, Lobster, Room) and Juliette Bonass (Glassland, Get Up & Go) and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures as executive producer. The film was backed by the Irish Film Board, Element Pictures Distribution, BAI, and TV3.
Nick Hamm’s new Northern Irish drama The Journey also heads to San Francisco as a marquee presentation. The film stars Timothy Spall as DUP leader Ian Paisley and Colm Meaney as Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness. It is a fictional take on the improbable friendship between the two Northern Ireland political titans, that sees the pair forced to take a short journey together having spent years avoiding one another.
The pair are joined by Toby Stephens (Believe) as Prime Minister Tony Blair, Freddie Highmore (The Spiderwick Chronicles) as Jack, a young government employee tasked to drive Paisley and McGuinness on their journey, and cinematic legend John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Harry, an accomplished veteran political fixer overseeing the St. Andrews Agreement. The Journey is directed by Hamm (Killing Bono) from a script by Colin Bateman (Divorcing Jack). It is backed by Northern Ireland Screen supported by Invest NI.
Second To None tells the story of Frederick Butterfield, a failed inventor who has always played second fiddle to his mere one minute older twin brother Herman. When Herman becomes the world’s oldest man, Frederick finally sees his opportunity to be first place. He’ll just have to kill his brother to do it.
Written and directed by Vincent Gallagher and produced by Damian Farrell as part of the Irish Film Board/RTÉ Frameworks scheme, the film is animated by Jason Watts (Igam Ogam) with stunning production design and character fabrication coming from Aoife Noonan (A Terrible Hullabaloo) and Pierre Butler respectively.
SFFILM, previously known as the San Francisco Film Society, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round nonprofit organization delivering screenings and events to more than 100,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 10,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of hundreds of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services.