Up to 5,000 people will have seen Alan Gilsenan’s Meetings with Ivor, on groundbreaking psychiatrist Ivor Browne, in its first two weeks of cinema release. This is a phenomenal record for a new Irish documentary that first saw the light of day just one month ago. It had a premiere screening at Dublin’s IFI Cinema on January 14th last during the First Fortnight Festival, attended by President Michael D Higgins. Demand was such that two extra screenings had to be added the following day. Since then, it’s got a limited release and has been garnering 4 and 5-star reviews and lots of positive reactions from audiences young and old.
Sunniva O’Flynn, IFI’s Head of Irish Film Programming, say:
We were overwhelmed by the unexpected and immediate demand for tickets for the film’s premiere at First Fortnight when we had to turn scores of people away – despite scheduling two extra screenings. The interest has been sustained following its release and we have had to extend the run to accommodate the continuing enormous demand. Needless to say audiences are well-rewarded for their persistence and their response has been wholly positive.
Chiara Kelly at the Eye Cinema in Galway said:
Last Monday night demand exceeded supply so much we had to move the film to our biggest cinema. The Q&A session with the director went down a treat. We are extending the film’s run at the Eye also. It’s been creating quite a stir here.
When asked to explain the reasons for the film’s unexpected success producer Tomás Hardiman of Parzival Productions said
Ivor Browne has spent a lifetime trying to improve the lot of Irish people in personal distress. His influence and his appeal clearly runs very deep. What he has to say has a huge resonance for people in these uncertain times. Added to that, people are moved by the artistry and profound appeal of Alan Gilsenan’s filmic portrayal. For audiences, I think it’s a simple case of deep attraction to Ivor’s authentic personality, He has his flaws and is not afraid to have them exposed in this film. We don’t see that happening too often among his profession. I really believe this film is a source of healing and should be seen by as many people as possible, including people who might disagree with his approach to mental health.
Michael O’Keefe CEO of The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), which financed the project from the TV licence fee said:
Meetings with Ivor is a prime example of how a ‘non-commercial’ film can be successful with a broader audience. The film, produced in association with Dublin City Community Television (DCTV), highlights the unique contribution this sector makes to the Irish broadcasting landscape.
The film is soon due to run at Cork’s Triskel Cinema and will also be shown at Garter Lane Arts Centre in Waterford and Limerick’s Belltable before going on the Irish and International film festival circuit. With interest still rising, there may yet be demand for a full nationwide release.