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.
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.
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 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.
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.