The full scope of Irish screen talent is on display at the ninth Irish Film Festival London, which once again is the first to introduce fresh brilliant films and live director and cast Q&As to London and UK film audiences.

IFFL 2019 takes place at Regent Street Cinema, andopens with the UK premiere of Heyday, The Mic Christopher Story. Mic Christopher was a uniquely talented songwriter-singer who died, just as he was on the brink of a brilliant career. The documentary tells the story of how Mic’s music inspired a generation of Irish talent, told by those whose lives he touched before his untimely death. Oscar winner Glen Hansard, writer/actor Sharon Horgan, Mike Scott of the Waterboys and Bronagh Gallagher are among the many who pay tribute to their friend. The film is directed by Alan Leonard and produced by Fiona Graham and Niall Carver.

Thursday 21st November sees the London premiere for a comedy/drama set in Derry, Northern Ireland. A Bump Along The Way stars Bronagh Gallagher (Pulp Fiction, The Personal History of David Copperfield) as a middle aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one night stand acts as a catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves. The film also stars Lola Petticrew, who shines as fed up teenager Allegra.

They join a line up that includes the UK premiere of Dark Lies The Island, a dark, comic melodrama about a family spinning out of control in a small Irish town, which stars IFFL’s new patron Moe Dunford, who will attend.

Each time I have been to the IFFL, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and felt proud that Irish films are being promoted so strongly. I’m honoured and look forward to attending as a Patron this year.

Moe Dunford, Patron – IFFL

The film sees two brothers trying to crawl out from the shadow of their domineering father while his young wife is trapped in a whirlpool of sexual jealousy. Dark Lies The Island comes from the fertile imagination of award winning novelist, playwright and screenwriter Kevin Barry (City of Bohane). It is directed by Ian FitzGibbon (Perrier’s Bounty, Death of a Superhero) and produced by Michael Garland (The Legend of Longwood, Death of a Superhero). Picked up in Ireland by new distribution company Break Out Pictures, its cast includes Pat Shortt (Garage, Queen and Country), Peter Coonan (Penance, The Drummer and The Keeper), Moe Dunford (Handsome Devil, Patrick’s Day), Charlie Murphy (The Foreigner, Philomena), Tommy Tiernan (Derry Girls, Dave Allen at Peace) and Jana Mohieden. The UK premiere will be screened on 22nd November, after crime caper short film When to Fold Em.

Five Premieres

Other features having their UK premieres at this year’s festival include Bruno, written and directed by Karl Golden, which tackles themes of homelessness and mental health. Following a personal tragedy, Irishman Daniel, played by Diarmuid Murtagh (The Monuments Men, Vikings) leaves his wife and ends up on the streets of London. His only companion is his dog Bruno. After an assault, Daniel loses Bruno. As he searches for him, he finds young Izzy, played by 10-year-old Woody Norman (Catastrophe, Poldark), who has run away from home. Daniel and Izzy search the streets of London looking for Bruno and develop a close bond that takes them closer to home and the possibility of redemption. IFFL will partner on this screening with New Horizons Youth Centre, who provide unique holistic support for London’s homeless and vulnerable young people.

Comedic fantasy-horror Extra Ordinary is about Rose, a mostly sweet and mostly lonely small-town driving instructor who uses her supernatural talents to save the daughter of Martin from a washed-up rock star who is using her in a satanic pact to re-ignite his fame. Written and directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman the film stars Maeve Higgins (Moone Boy, Inside Amy Schumer), Barry Ward (Maze, The End of the F***ing World) and Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth, Run and Jump).

IFFL 2019’s last screening is the beautiful documentary Cumar, A Galway Rhapsody, in a nod to Galway 2020, European City of Culture. This love letter to Galway from its artistic community features contributors include comedian/actor Tommy Tiernan, poet/playwright Rita Ann Higgins and writer Mike McCormack, among others. It will be screened alongside the short film The Bridge.

The hardest part of putting together this year’s festival line-up has been choosing from an abundance of riches. Our final line-up shows the wealth of sheer talent and cinematic vision that is at work in Modern Ireland, tackling diverse and often difficult subject matters, examining our relationship with the world, not least with our British neighbours.

Kelly O’Connor, Director – IFFL

Short Films

Part of Irish Film London’s mission is to support Irish filmmakers from the beginning of their careers, and this year’s line-up includes eighteen short films from excellent emergent filmmakers, alongside some of Ireland’s better-known cinematic talents.

As example of this excellence is Carol Freeman, a graduate of Ireland’s National Film School. Her extraordinary animated short film The Bird and the Whale, which is comprised of 3,400 beautiful paintings on glass, reflects the exciting new talent coming out of Ireland today.

In Robin Lochmann’s THEM, a son is banished from his village for refusing to worship a false idol, and bears witness to the brewing conflict that might destroy civilisation itself. Harry Lee’s Hearts and Crafts is a heart-warming, romantic short film about two 10-year-olds navigating the soaring highs and confusing lows of their first relationship. Laura Whitmore makes her screenwriting debut with her short film Sadhbh about a young mother, Claire, who struggles to keep her life together while attempting to present a mask of strength against the judgement of the outside world. But she hides a heart-breaking secret!

Awards

To officially launch the Festival, the Irish Film London Awards returns to the beautiful setting of the Ballroom of the Irish Embassy on 12th November. The awards honour world-class Irish feature films, shorts, documentaries and music videos, alongside Irish acting and film making talent. Among the awards will be the annual Ros Hubbard Award for Acting, which identifies the performance of the year as well as the much-coveted Súil Eile Award.  

IFFL patron Lenny Abrahamson joins IFFL as a judge for this year’s Best Irish Short Film Award.

The Irish Film Festival London is an amazing opportunity for younger filmmakers to get their work seen in a theatrical context in London. I think it’s a huge validation showing your work publicly in a space like IFFL affords. It’s such an enormously important aspect of your own creative journey, it’s that moment where you’re able to take yourself seriously.

Lenny Abrahamson, Patron – IFFL
Lenny Abrahamson and Irish Film London Founder Kelly O’Connor at Element Pictures, Dublin, 2019
Lenny Abrahamson and Irish Film London Founder Kelly O’Connor at Element Pictures, Dublin, 2019

Industry

IFFL also includes plenty of opportunities for those who are interested in the Film and TV industry to learn more, and network with fellow enthusiasts and professionals. More of these events will be announced in the coming weeks.

One such event takes place on Thursday 21st November, when IFFL welcomes writer, comedian and actress Roisin Conaty to the festival this year for a Screen Talk. Born to Irish parent in Camden, London, Roisin has risen to the higher echelon of the UK comedy and TV industry. She won the Best Newcomer Award at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival and went on to perform her stand up all over the world. She is a frequent guest on many TV panel shows including Have I Got News For You, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Would I Lie To You? and Room 101. Most recently Roisin enjoyed the release of the second series of her own highly successful sitcom GameFace on Channel 4 which she originated, wrote and stars in.

Roisin Conaty in  GameFace  for Channel 4
Roisin Conaty in GameFace for Channel 4

IFFL will be chatting with Roisin about growing up as a second-generation Irish person in London and County Kerry and what kinds of influences, good or bad, come from her Irish heritage.

Tickets for all film showings will be available via the IFFL website or Regent St Cinema website very soon. To be the first to know, sign up to the IFFL mailing list.

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