Irish Film Festival

Irish Film Festival to screen in Sydney, Melbourne

Between Land And Sea, which focuses on Clare’s burgeoning surf scene, is one of the movies in this year’s Irish Film Festival.

Between Land And Sea, which focuses on Clare’s burgeoning surf scene, is one of the movies in this year’s Irish Film Festival.

The Irish Film Festival returns to Sydney and Melbourne this May.

The festival officially launches in each city with Float like a Butterfly, an uplifting drama from the producers of Sing Street and the Oscar winning film Once. Set in 1972 when Muhammad Ali was set to fight in Dublin, the film follows Frances, a young Traveller girl with big dreams of becoming a champion boxer.

The film has been acclaimed at both the Cork and Toronto International Film Festivals.

The celebration of Irish cinema begins in Sydney with a community screening of Unquiet Graves at Penrith Gaels Club on Wednesday May 1, followed by the official opening night at the Chauvel in Paddington on Thursday May 2. The festival runs in the Chauvel until Sunday May 5.

The Melbourne leg of the festival takes place at the Kino Cinema in Collins Street from Thursday May 9 until Saturday May 12.

This is the fifth iteration of the festival which started in 2015.

Festival director Enda Murray says he is proud of the programme for this year’s festival. When pressed for a ‘must-see’ he nominates The Drummer And The Keeper.

“Nick Kelly, who is the writer and director, was the lead singer with Irish band The Fat Lady Sings back in the day,” he said.

“He brings a songwriter’s sensibility to the film and I love the fact that it revolves around music.”

The director also singled out A Lifetime Of Stories, a documentary in which older Irish emigrants reflect on their lives. Sydney residents Tomás de Bhaldraithe, Pat Foley, Marian Reilly, Marie MacMillan and Damien McCluskey are some of the locals featured.

“From witnessing Derry’s Bloody Sunday in 1972 to sailing around Ireland on a Galway Hooker, these are men and women who have experienced life to the full,” Murray said.

Float Like A Butterfly follows the fortunes of an Irish Traveller girl who dreams of becoming a top boxer.

Float Like A Butterfly follows the fortunes of an Irish Traveller girl who dreams of becoming a top boxer.

Among this year’s festival highlights are:

Float Like a Butterfly

It’s Ireland in 1971. Muhammad Ali is fighting in Croke Park in Dublin and Frances (Hazel Doupe, right) a young Traveller girl dreams of being a boxer. From the producers of Once and Sing Street, Float Like a Butterfly is a powerful and timely story of a girl’s fight for freedom and belonging.

Unquiet Graves

This documentary alleges that the British government colluded with Loyalist paramilitaries in the deaths of more than 120 citizens in Ireland in the early 70s. Unquiet Graves details how members of the RUC and the UDR, (a British Army regiment) were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 civilians during the recent conflict in Ireland. Director Seán Murray will be a guest of the festival.

Between Land and Sea

Lahinch, Co Clare is an unlikely home to five surfing schools and one of the world’s most dramatic big-wave breaks beneath the majestic Cliffs of Moher. This enthralling documentary presents some incredible surf photography and an engaging portrait of new lifestyles for young people on the West coast of Ireland.

The Drummer and the Keeper

Two young Dublin men find friendship despite their mental health problems in this tender and uplifting rock’n’roll story. Gabriel (Dermot Murphy), a drummer who is bipolar, meets Christopher (Jacob McCarthy), a teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, while the pair are in rehabilitation. An unlikely friendship blossoms despite the hardships giving both young men something to live for.

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid

An Irish farmer takes on a multinational company in this weird and wonderful documentary.

A Lifetime Of Stories is a documentary in which older Irish emigrants in Sydney reflect on their lives. One of the subjects is Tomás de Bhaldraithe.

A Lifetime Of Stories is a documentary in which older Irish emigrants in Sydney reflect on their lives. One of the subjects is Tomás de Bhaldraithe.

Dublin Oldschool

A WANNABE DJ deals with life head-on in a drug-fuelled weekend Dublin’s rave scene in the ‘90s. Ulysses meets Trainspotting. Director Dave Tynan is a festival guest.

Metal Heart

We hear amazing stories of travel, work and family in the oral histories which the subjects present in their own words. From partnering with Hurricane Higgins in snooker to a young woman driving overland to Australia via Kathmandu on the ‘magic bus’ in the ‘70s - these are men and women who have experienced life to the full.

No Party for Billy Burns

Billy Burns (Kevin McGahern) is a would-be cowboy lost in the dreary fields of Cavan. Billy seeks romance and adventure and dreams of riding into the sunset but the local rednecks have other ideas.

The Camino Voyage

Five artists including Oscar winner Glen Hansard embark on a modern day Celtic Odyssey as they row a currach 2,500km from Ireland to Northern Spain.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

A FAMILY cartoon featuring a shrinking boy, a talking caterpillar, and the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn and a host of Irish comedians.

For tickets and the full program, click here.

Through Irish eyes: many cinema treats at Irish Film Festival

The Lodgers - a horror story set in 1920s Ireland is part of this year's Irish Film Festival.

The Lodgers - a horror story set in 1920s Ireland is part of this year's Irish Film Festival.

FOUR films that shine a spotlight on the Troubles will be screened in Sydney and Melbourne this month as part of the Irish Film Festival.

The diverse festival programme also includes a Pat Shortt comedy, a documentary about returning emigrants and a Gothic horror. Festival director Enda Murray said it was a pretty strong line-up with the best of contemporary Irish cinema.

“I’m delighted with the festival programme this year,” he said. “The Northern Ireland focus seemed appropriate as this year marks the 20th anniversar y of the Good Friday Agreement and there were a number of great new films about the north of Ireland.”

Dr Murray said one of the festival highlights is No Stone Unturned by Oscar-winning American filmmaker Alex Gibney.

The documentary examines the murder in 1994 of six Catholics in a pub in Loughinisland, Co Down. The men were shot while they watched Ireland play Italy in the World Cup. No charges have ever been laid.

“It’s a remarkable film … a film that will change things,” Dr Murray said. The film’s producer, Trevor Birney, will attend the screenings in Sydney and Melbourne.

Dr Murray said there has also been incredible interest in the opening night film, Maze, about the 1983 mass breakout from the Maze prison, which was also known as Long Kesh. It stars Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, (Nidge) of Love/Hate fame.

A documentary about the former SDLP leader John Hume and a quirky fictional film based on the relationship between the DUP’s Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness complete the Northern Ireland focus.

One film that is certain to resonate with expats is Coming Home, a documentary that follows five Irish emigrants around the world who decide to move back to Ireland, including a woman from Sydney.

The Maze will be screening on opening night at the festival. Based on the true story of the 1983 mass break-out of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland. 

The Maze will be screening on opening night at the festival. Based on the true story of the 1983 mass break-out of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland. 

For fans of comedy Dr Murray recommends the Pat Shortt film, The Flag. Shortt’s character discovers his grandfather had raised the Tricolour above the GPO in 1916 but it is now in the officers’ mess in a British Army barracks in London. He embarks on a mission to retrieve it.

“He’s a very funny guy. He can give a look and it will just reduce you to tears,” Dr Murray said. Also on the programme is the Irish entry in the Foreign Language category of the Oscars, Song of Granite, about the life of Connemara sean-nós singer Joe Heaney. And for fans of the supernatural, there’s The Lodgers, a chilling Gothic horror set in an Anglo-Irish home in the 1920s.

In a festival first, this year’s programme also includes a short film competition for young filmmakers from Ireland and Australia. “We are really happy to start cultivating an Irish-Australian platform for creative young people,” Dr Murray said. The Irish Film Festival is showing in Penrith and Sydney from 18-22 April and in Melbourne from 26-28 April.

For the full programme and tickets go irishfilmfestival.com.au