The annual Los Angeles Irish Film Festival’s founder and director, Lisa McLaughlin, has been named Los Angeles 2012 Irish Woman of the Year by the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles. Los Angeles resident, McLaughlin, originally from Donegal, Ireland, and other Irish Honorees of the year, will be honored at the 137th Annual Irish Day Civic Ceremonies on Friday, March 16, 2012, at Los Angeles City Hall in the Council Chambers, Downtown Los Angeles. McLaughlin will be feted at a Special Luncheon immediately afterwards and then introduced at the Official City of Los Angeles St. Patrick’s Day Extravaganza at LA Live on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, 2012 sponsored by City Councilmember Tom Labonge. McLaughlin will round off the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the Grand St. Patrick’s Day Ball and Rose of Tralee Presentation in Orange County.
Previous recipients of this prestigious honor include former Miss Ireland, actress Olivia Tracey, legendary crooner Bing Crosby and American TV host Merv Griffin.
McLaughlin was selected by a committee from the Irish Fair Foundation. The foundation, which is also responsible for the California Rose of Tralee selection, each year, selects an Irish Man and Irish Woman and other honorees as part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Los Angeles. McLaughlin is being recognized as an outstanding leader and major contributor to the arts and cultural fields and to the local American Irish community. Over the past four years, McLaughlin has developed the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival into a major Irish Cultural Event – with film as its center – but also has introduced Los Angeles’ audiences to Irish music, art, photography, poetry and even food, with an exploration of the ‘taste of Ireland’. The Festival is the only stand-alone Irish Film Festival to be presented in the city. Last year, the Festival’s Steve Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to acclaimed Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan.
In response to receiving the Irish Woman of the Year Award and to mark the fifth year of the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival, which will take place in fall 2012, McLaughlin has arranged for a traditional Irish Currach (traditional Irish boat) to be built by an artisan/boatwright from Donegal, Ireland. The theme of this year’s Festival will be ‘Sea of Exchange,’ representing the emigration of people as well as films. Currach builder, Donal Mac Polin, will make the journey from Ireland and shepherd a hand picked team of local craftsmen through the ancient steps of construction and assembly. The five day process will begin in the lobby of the Opening Night Gala venue and will continue through the next 4 days of the Festival, amid the displayed works of Irish painters, artists and Festival patrons, curated by Cathy Weiss. On day five of the Festival, a family beach day is planned with the ceremonial launch of the Currach in the Pacific Ocean at Marina Del Rey. A documentary crew is already in place to capture this significant cultural and historic event.
Lisa McLaughlin grew up in a small village called Malin, in the Inishowen Peninsula. Inishowen (Irish: Inis Eoghain, meaning “Island of Eoghan”) is a peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland. It is also the largest peninsula in all of the island of Ireland. Inishowen is a picturesque location with a rich history. The peninsula includes Irelands’ most northerly point, Malin Head, along with Lagg sand dunes, some of the highest in Europe, as well as Grianán an Aileach, a royal fort constructed by the Clan Uí Néill in the sixth century. The Grianán stands at the entrance to the peninsula.
McLaughlin finished secondary school in Carndonagh Community School, Donegal and continued her third level studies in Dublin. Having completed an honors B.A in Philosophy at Milltown Institute of Philosophy & Theology, Dublin, Ireland, McLaughlin began working in the Irish Film Industry – she started as a Trainee Assistant Director and worked her way up production on many feature films, documentaries, short films, TV series and commercials in Ireland. She worked on location throughout Ireland including Ardmore Studios Co. Wicklow. An avid lover of the arts, film and culture, she continued her passion of the arts working with a travelling theatre production (for three years) that took her to many parts of the world including, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska and many parts of the U.S.
McLaughlin now resides in Los Angeles with her nine year old son Carson. She worked with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles for four years before founding the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival (LAIFF) in 2008. The LAIFF is now celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2012. The festival celebrates the richness of Irish culture and includes art exhibits, photography, musicians from Ireland, as well as the very best of Irish cinema. As festival director of the LAIFF, McLaughlin enjoys bringing the very best of Irish culture to Los Angeles. Irish notables who have attended the festival include, Gabriel Byrne, Fionnula Flanagan, Jim Sheridan, Roma Downey, Natasha McElhone, as well as many Irish Filmmakers and the Hollywood Film community.
When McLaughlin is not watching Irish movies, she enjoys fishing, hiking, travelling, sketching and sampling foods from different countries – that explains her award winning restaurant, wine bar and art gallery in Donegal that she owned when she was in her twenties!