Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, the Vancouver Irish Film Festival (VIRFF) returns this month to the Vancity Theatre for a three-day festival showcasing the very best of Irish film, including Ireland’s official entry for Best International Film at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Taking place from Friday, 29 November to Sunday, 1 December, this year’s festival will once again delight Vancouver audiences with an exciting and diverse line-up of Irish feature films and documentaries and this year it is also introducing a new component featuring a selection of Oscar-nominated and award-winning Irish shorts. 

In addition to another excellent array of feature films, festivalgoers can enjoy the “craic” and watch live traditional Irish music and dancing performances. Connoisseurs of Irish culture will also be treated to whiskey sampling from Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and Tayto crisps (NOT chips) amongst other uniquely Irish treats.

The Irish are known as a nation of storytellers and we are delighted to be able to introduce Vancouver audiences to the best of Irish storytelling through the medium of cinema. We hope our schedule of programming will appeal not only to the growing Irish community in Vancouver but also to a broader audience.

Through VIRFF Vancouverites can enjoy a more fulsome and authentic taste of Irish culture than they experience on St Patrick’s Day.

Aine Coady, Founder and Director of the Vancouver Irish Film Festival (VIRFF)

The 2018 VIRFF received support from the Consulate General of Ireland. This year the festival has also received funding from the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), from the Irish Abroad Unit within Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

ESP funding is awarded to not-for-profit projects intended to strengthen the international Irish community and promote and maintain Irish heritage and identity overseas. 

The Irish population in BC has grown exponentially over the last decade. With 4.5 million Canadians claiming some or full Irish lineage in the most recent census and more than 675,000 British Columbians self-identified as being of Irish descent in 2016, according to Statistics Canada data. To meet the needs of the growing Irish diaspora a second Consulate Office opened last year in Vancouver.

Read the VIRFF festival programme here. Book your tickets for VIRFF here.  

Film highlights at this year’s VIRFF:

A Bump Along the Way scooped the Best Debut Irish Feature Award at the 2019 Galway Film Fleadh. It stars Bronagh Gallagher as the mother of a teenager girl, who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant in her forties. Fans of the hit Netflix series Derry Girls will love this story set in the Oak Leaf county. 

Into The West is our family classicfilm of the festival. Written by Jim Sheridan, this is a gorgeous urban fantasy film from Ireland in the 90s.

Rosie is a slightly more sombre tale written by acclaimed novelist Roddy Doyle. Set in Dublin, it details over 36 hours the efforts of a mother-of- four to find emergency accommodation for her family. Not sugar-coating the current housing crisis in Ireland’s capital city, Rosie has won acclaim from both audiences and critics, winning Best Irish Film at the Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards. 

The Camino Voyage is an Irish-language documentary (with subtitles) charting the journey of four artists and musicians from Ireland to Galicia in Northern Spain, using only a naomhóg, a traditional Irish canoe.  Among its crew are Brendan Begley, Liam Holden and the late poet Danny Sheehy, but also singer-songwriter Glen Hansard of The Frames, and star of the smash-hit musical Once. 

Gaza is an acclaimed documentary from Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell and Ireland’s official entry for Best International Film at the 2020 Academy Awards. Chronicling the lives of those living in the war-torn strip of land between Egypt and Israel, Gaza is a heartrending work, and demonstrates that Irish film can extend outside the Emerald Isle, to examine important issues around the globe. 

Extra Ordinary is a comedy-horror featuring Maeve Higgins, star of the much-loved RTÉ series Naked Camera. She plays a driving instructor in rural Ireland with the ability to communicate with the dead, something she must reckon with when an ageing rock star makes a deal with the Devil in her town. Touted as Ireland’s answer to Shaun of the Dead, Extra Ordinary has already proved a hit back in Ireland, and will no doubt please audiences in Vancouver. 

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