IRISHFILMFESTA returns to the Casa del Cinema in Rome for its ninth edition, from April 7th to 10th.
A large selection of Irish films will be screened in Italy for the first time, with the festival also featuring daily interactions with directors and actors. The competition section, founded in 2010 and reserved for short films, includes 15 works, ten live action and five animated.
This year the IRISHFILMFESTA will dedicate a special tribute to the Galway Film Fleadh, from which many of the films in the IRISHFILMFESTA programme come, and which is preparing to celebrate its 28th edition.
Among the feature films, nearly all of which are Italian premieres, is the winner of Best First Feature at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh You’re Ugly Too by director Mark Noonan, which had its world premiere at the Berlinale in 2015. The film features Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, Sing Street) and Lauren Kinsella, and follows Will, a man recently released from prison, who must take care of his niece Stacey who has just lost her mother. The two attempt, amid great difficulty, to become a family.
Visitors to the IRISHFILMFESTA can also catch The Survivalist by Stephen Fingleton with Martin McCann, Mia Goth and Olwen Fouéré, which also debuted at the Galway Fleadh in 2015. The film is a thriller set in a post-apocalyptic setting and has received multiple nominations and awards, including from the British Independent Film Awards, the Tribeca Film Festival, and BAFTA.
From the 2014 edition of the Galway Film Fleadh, and also a recipient of Best First Feature, is the brilliant I Used to Live Here from director Frank Berry, which tackles the phenomenon of cluster suicides among young people in a small community. Performed mostly by non-professionals, the film is made in collaboration with Headstrong, an association involved in the care and protection of mental health in adolescents and young adults.
Set in Canada at the end of the 19th century, in the gold rush era, but shot entirely in the Galway region, An Klondike is the first western to be completely filmed in Ireland and is set mainly in the Irish language. Directed and edited by Dathaí Keane, the film marks his feature film debut. Starring Owen McDonnell, Dara Devaney and Sean T. Ó Meallaigh, An Klondike is the feature-length version of a miniseries in four episodes distributed abroad under the title Dominion Creek. This cinematic version was the closing film of the Galway Film Fleadh 2015.
The programme also features Pursuit, by playwright and theatre director Paul Mercier, which is a modern underworld version of the ancient Irish legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne. Gráinne, the daughter of a major crime boss, becomes engaged to rival Fionn in order to consolidate an old alliance. However she falls for Fionn’s right-hand man Diarmuid, causing no end of hassle. An all-star cast features Ruth Bradley, Barry Ward, Liam Cunningham, Owen Roe, Don Wycherley, Dara Devaney, David Pearse, Sean T. Ó Meallaigh, and Brendan Gleeson.
Joey, Robert, William and Michael Dunlop, from a small rural town in Northern Ireland, have dominated the world stage for two generations of road motorcycling, the most dangerous of motor sports: Diarmuid Lavery and Michael Hewitt tell their story in the documentary film Road, which is narrated by Liam Neeson.
IRISHFILMFESTA 2016 devotes a special section to the Centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the beginning of a long process towards the establishment of the Republic of Ireland. It will be possible to see the Italian premiere of 1916 The Irish Rebellion, a documentary film narrated by the acclaimed Irish actor Liam Neeson, which places the events of Dublin’s Easter Rising in a European and global perspective, analysing it through the prism of a wave of anti-colonialism that gathered momentum on the eve of World War I and would result in the eventual collapse of the British Empire.
The programme also includes a selection of episodes from 1916 Seachtar na Casca (The Easter Seven), a historical-documentary television series directed by An Klondike‘s Dathaí Keane, scripted by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh, and produced by Abú Media Films for Irish-language television channel TG4. Seachtar na Casca comprises seven episodes, each devoted to one of the seven leaders of the Easter Rising and the signatories of the Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom: Thomas J. Clarke, Sean Mac Diarmada, James Connolly, Patrick H. Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, Thomas McDonagh and Joseph Plunkett. The series is narrated by Brendan Gleeson.
In addition the IRISHFILMESTA features nine short films made as part of After ’16, the funding programme established by the Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry. as part of the commemoration initiatives and artistic production linked to the 1916 centenary. The shorts of After ’16 are: A Father’s Letter by Joe Dolan, A Terrible Hullabaloo by Ben O’Connor, Baring Arms by Colm Quinn, Goodbye, Darling by Elena Doyle, Granite and Chalk by Patrick Hodgins, Mr. Yeats and the Beastly Coins by Laura McNicholas and Ann-Marie Hourihane, My Life for Ireland by Kieron J. Walsh, The Cherishing by Dave Tynan, and The Party by Andrea Harkin.
In the section dedicated to the anniversary of the Easter Rising is an Irish Classic specially selected for 2016: Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins. This screening comes twenty years after the Golden Lion and the Coppa Volpi were awarded to the film’s star Liam Neeson at the Venice International Film Festival. The film, whose script took Jordan more than a decade to write and rewrite, focuses on the last six years in the life of Michael Collins, who during the uprising of 1916 was a young officer at the helm of the Irish Volunteers and would become one of the most important figures of Sinn Féin and the fight for independence.
The Casa del Cinema will also house an exhibition, 1916: Portraits and Lives, a selection of 42 portraits of men and women from the Easter Rising, created by illustrator David Rooney for the eponymous book published by the Royal Irish Academy.
Finally, in homage to the Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, whose entire filmography has been screened over previous editions of IRISHFILMFESTA, the festival will screen his latest film, Room. Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, who was responsible for the film adaptation, Room was awarded this year’s Oscar for Best Actress, won by Brie Larson, as well as receiving three other nominations (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay).
IRISHFILMFESTA takes place in Rome from April 7th to 10th.