Preview of LA Irish Film Festival 29th September-2nd October

| September 21, 2011 | Comments (1)

knuckle

(Knuckle)

The beginning of October sees one of the biggest events on the Irish calendar in Los Angeles. Now in its 4th year, the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival kicks off on 29th September at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, and again it is celebrating the Irish passion for storytelling – and the people who tell the stories.

Opening night film is current smash hit The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle and written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. Not only did The Guard recently get an expanded cinema release across L.A., but it’s also the most successful independent Irish movie of all time, overtaking Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Since its release in Ireland on July 8th, the film has made over €4.13 million and roared to the front of the list – beating even In Bruges, the movie written and directed by McDonagh’s brother, Martin – and Veronica Guerin, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Cate Blanchett.

It’s been popular elsewhere in the world too, entering the top ten in the UK, Australia and New Zealand – and it’s also taken a box office of nearly $3m across the US, where it’s playing in around 200 cinemas. Audiences in Germany, France and Italy are next, and it has to be in the minds of Oscar voters already.

The opening night party is at the swish Library Bar in the new Redbury Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, and doubtless celebrating there will be veteran Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan. Not only does she appear in The Guard, but she will be honored at the Festival with the Steve Brennan Award, named after the former international editor of The Hollywood Reporter and author of the movie industry book Emeralds in Tinseltown.

Raised in Dublin, Flanagan has appeared in such distinctive Irish films as Ulysses, Waking Ned Devine and Some Mother’s Son, as well as The Others, The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Transamerica and TV programs Brotherhood and Lost. She also recently wrapped production on the Irish language television mini-series Paddywhackery for TG4, and is ‘one of Ireland’s national treasures and (has been) a friend to the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival since our inception,’ said festival director Lisa McLaughlin.

The festival runs to 2nd October  and the other movies due to screen at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica include a number of Irish shorts and the west coast premiere of documentary A Swell Season, which looks at the unexpected success of Once and the spotlight that fell on its stars – and real-life lovers – Glen Hansard and Markéta Inglová – as they travelled the world supporting the movie, for which they won an Oscar for their song “Falling Slowly”.

The ever-popular musical drama The Commitments as a 20th anniversary screening and there is a special double feature, Sé Merry Doyle’s documentary Dreaming The Quiet Man (US Premiere) which looks at the legacy and story of the famous 1952 movie directed by John Ford. It will – of course – be followed by a screening of The Quiet Man itself, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

There was also Parked, a story about Fred (Colm Meaney) who comes home after a long time away and strikes up a friendship with Cathal (Colin Morgan), and The Runaway, a movie inspired by an incredible true story about an South American pilot who accidentally landed in Mallow, County Cork and was taken to heart by the locals – and one small boy in particular – who then built a runway so he could take off again. It’s written and directed by Ian Power.

Other documentaries include Knuckle, a look at bare-knuckle boxing in the Irish traveler community that’s directed by Ian Palmer, and The Pipe, about the small community of Rossmore, County Mayo, who faced up against Shell Oil and the Irish Government when natural gas was discovered near the village.

There are several Q&A sessions with writers and directors planned, with musical entertainment coming from Judith Mok, an Irish-based Dutch-born singer who graduated from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and has studied and performed across Europe. She was due to perform her one-woman show “Molly Says No”, which is about Molly Bloom, the heroine of James Joyce’s classic novel Ulysses.

The festival runs until 2nd October and after opening night, screenings take place at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theater in Santa Monica. The posh Hotel Shangri-La will host the closing night party – great views over the road to the beach and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

James Bartlett

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  1. Fiachra says:

    They should rename it the LA Irish Film Board Festival!

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