Award Winners Announced for the 64th Cork Film Festival

Ciúnas (Silence)’, winner of the Grand Prix Irish Short. Tristan Heanue accepts the award from Colm Crowley, Head of RTE Cork

Documentary short Horse Riders has won the inaugural Academy Awards® qualifying of Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival this evening (17 November). The film, directed by Anna Gawlita, now joins the longlist for the Academy Awards® in 2021. This brings to three Academy Awards® qualifying awards at the Cork Film Festival, the only film festival in Ireland to have this trio. The awards were presented ahead of the Closing Night Gala at the Everyman, with the Irish premiere of The Other Lamb, directed by Małgorzata Szumowska.

The Festival’s further Academy Awards® qualifying award, the Grand Prix Irish Short Award, went to Tristan Heanue’s Ciúnas (Silence). Proudly presented by RTÉ, Principal Media Partner of the Cork Film Festival, the award was presented by Colm Crowley, Head of RTÉ Cork. Also qualifying for the Academy Awards® in 2021, Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews took home the Grand Prix International Short Award.

Cork Film Festival Director and CEO Fiona Clark said: “As Ireland’s only film festival to present three Academy Awards® qualifying awards, we are delighted to announce Anna Gawlita’s Horse Riders as the winner of the Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival. It is an exceptional documentary short and one that is thoroughly deserving of being longlisted for an Oscar®. The eye-catching film tells the story of an annual horse pilgrimage in a Polish village, an old regional tradition being kept alive in southern Poland.

“Tristan Heanue’s Irish-language short film Ciúnas (Silence) took home the second Academy Awards® qualifying award, the Grand Prix Irish Short Award, and is the winner of the €1,500 prize fund. It is a stunning film about a couple who embark on a journey in the midst of a family crisis. Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews, was awarded the Grand Prix International Short Award, our third Academy Awards® qualifying award. Set in the remote forests of the Scottish Highlands, the film sets the scene of an ageing stalker as he goes up against a young poacher who is taking the heads off his best stags.”

Commenting on the Awards, Fiona added: “Cork Film Festival’s awards demonstrate our commitment to presenting and celebrating excellence in filmmaking, championing new and emerging voices, as well as established filmmakers. The Festival embraces features and short film with equal respect, and as a growing destination for feature documentaries as well as narrative work, we pride ourselves as the platform to showcase the very best of Irish and international film in Ireland. Our Awards Ceremony honours the diverse talent presented during the 64th Cork Film Festival and this year’s winning films exemplify the quality and diversity we have showcased. We are delighted to close out the Festival with the Irish premiere of new Irish drama, The Other Lamb, a film supported by Screen Ireland, and the English-language debut of director Małgorzata Szumowska, one of the most thrilling emerging voices in world cinema.”

The Audience Award, presented by The River Lee, Principal Accommodation Partner, was won by The Last Right, written and directed by Aoife Crehan. Directorial debut, and World Premiere at the 64th Cork Film Festival, this comedy-drama follows New York-based Daniel Murphy who ends up being tasked with bringing the body of someone he barely knows home for burial.

The Gradam Spiorad Na Féile / Spirit of The Festival Award, proudly presented by The Gate Cinema, Principal Venue Partner, went to Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ directorial debut Swallow. This film depicts the struggle a young housewife and the increasing pressures of perfection as she begins to consume dangerous objects in an attempt to take back control.

The Gradam Na Féile Do Scannáin Faisnéise / Award for Cinematic Documentary was awarded to Feras Fayyad’s exceptional film, The Cave, which presents a harrowing account of one woman’s efforts to provide medical care in war-ravaged Syria. The impact of this important film on audiences is further reflected in it being awarded the Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award, the second time for Feras Fayyad (‘Last Men in Aleppo’, CFF 2017).

The Cork Film Festival Short Film Candidate for the 2020 European Film Awards is Things That Happen in the Bathroom, directed by Edward Hancox. This short film explores issues relating to loneliness, sexual insecurities and expectations.

Other prize winners announced at the Awards ceremony, which was hosted by master of ceremonies, Dave Mac Ardle (RedFM), included the award for the Best Cork Short, proudly presented by Media Partner RedFM, which was won by Olivia J Middleton for her film, Rosalyn, a compelling horror that explores the fragility of mental health during pregnancy.

The award for Best Director: Irish Short, supported by Screen Directors’ Guild Ireland, went to Michael-David McKernan, for his short film Halo. A single-take film, this short tells the tale of a lonely taxi driver who takes drastic action to protect a passenger from heartbreak.

Speaking on the 64th Cork Film Festival, Fiona Clark stated: “It has been an exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring 11 days of stunning film here in Cork. The breadth and quality of the programme, with over 300 films and 63 countries represented, has made this year’s Festival an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

“With 20,000 people attending this year’s Festival, we look forward to building on this success in 2020, our 65th anniversary, and beyond, and would like to thank all our funders, sponsors, partners, friends, jurors, filmmakers and audience who together make Cork Film Festival possible.”


List of Winners:

  • Ciúnas (Silence), directed by Tristan Heanue — Grand Prix Irish Short Award, Proudly supported by RTÉ
  • Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews — Grand Prix International Short Award
  • Horse Riders, directed by  Anna Gawlita — Grand Prix Documentary Short Award
  • The Last Right, directed by Aoife Crehan — Audience Award, Presented by The River Lee
  • The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad — Gradam na Féile do Scannáin Faisnéise (Award for Cinematic Documentary)
  • Swallow, directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis — Gradam Spiorad na Féile (Spirit of the Festival Award), Presented by The Gate Cinema
  • Things That Happen in the Bathroom, directed by Edward Hancox — Cork Film Festival Candidate for the European Film Awards 2020
  • Rosalyn, directed by Olivia J Middleton — Best Cork Short Award, Presented by Red FM
  • Michael-David McKernan, director of Halo — Best Director: Irish Short, Supported by Screen Directors Guild Ireland
  • The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad — Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award.

‘Unwelcome Sentiment’ Screens at Carlow International Film Festival

The short film Unwelcome Sentiment screens at Carlow International Film Festival on Saturday 16th of November.

Directed by Noel McInerney and written by Jill Smith, Unwelcome Sentiment is a tender tale about a man at the end of his life determined not to accept kindness when it doesn’t come in a form he appreciates.

William (George Bracebridge) and his nephew Jarlath (Ste Murray) don’t see eye to eye but, with the help of a nurse named Kate (Amy O’Dwyer), who helpfully offers some sage wisdom, he comes to realise that Jarlath is simply offering comfort as best he knows how.

The full festival line-up:

Friday Nov 15-
Shorts One- 2pm

9 Months- Writer/Director Michael Wohlfeld
Continental Breakfast- Writer/Director Alec Liddle
Delusions of Grainne- Director Fiachra O Longain; Writer Paul Moore
Family Spirit- Writer/Director Gabrielle Deeny
Five Course Meal- Writer/Director James Cadden
The Funeral dancer- Writer/Director Natalie MacMahon
Hold the Line- Director Karen Killeen & Laura O’Shea; Writer Laura O’Shea
Postfactum- Writer/Director Onofrio Damiano
The Fruitful- Writer/Director John Collins
The space Between Us- Writer/Director Elaine Kennedy

Feature Two
7pm followed by Q&A

Spa Weekend- Director Maureen O’Connell; Writer Karl Argue & Maureen O’Connell

After living in London for 5 years, actress Jo Murphy is back in Dublin. Everyone expected her to make it. She expected to make it. But, she’s back in Dublin


Saturday Nov 16

Shorts Two- 2pm

Battle of the Bands- Writer/Director Jonathan Clancy
Benched- Writer/Director Aisling Grattan
Coming to Terms- Writer/Director Patrick Ketch
Stari Grad (Old Town)- Writer/Director Jack Beck
The Butter Border- Writer/Director Ciaran Crudden
The Marksman- Writer/Director Conor Healy
Unwelcome Sentiment- Director Noel McInerney; Writer Jill Smith
The Visitor- Writer/Director Jim McMorrow
Rick Thunder In… Look Back Tomorrow- Writer/Director Jason Harris
Futures- Writer/Director Daniel Marc Janes
Saving Grace- Writer/Director Siobhan Kavanagh

Closing Feature

4pm Followed by Q&A

Wretch- Writer/Director Matthew Dunehoo

Under the tutelage of an eccentric hippie restaurateur and her messianic self-help guru, a young man sets out to master the occult magic of Enceladism in an effort to destroy the cancer that’s killing his boyfriend.



Preview of Irish Film at the 2019 Cork Film Festival


Over 300 films and events are included in the packed 2019 Cork Film Festival programme, with 90% of the features, documentaries and shorts having their first screening in Cork. The festival runs from 7 – 17 November. Tickets are available at

This year a trio of Irish premiere Galas have been announced, with the much-anticipated drama Ordinary Love, starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, having its Irish premiere at the Opening Gala on Thursday, 7 November.  Closing the 11-day festival will be the Irish premiere of new Irish-Belgian drama, The Other Lamb, direct from its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, on Sunday, 17 November. Plus there’s the Irish gala film The Last Right, the debut feature from the very talented Aoife Creghan.

Below we preview all the Irish films screening at this year’s festival.


Ordinary Love

DIR: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn • WRI: Owen McCafferty

Thu, 7th Nov 2019 @ 19:30 • The Everyman Theatre

Joan and Tom  are a long-married couple settled in their ways, enjoying brisk walks at sunset and playful bickering. Then Joan discovers a lump in her breast, which starts a chain of events that threatens to change their relationship completely.

CAST:  Lesley Manville, Liam Neeson


Lost Lives

DIR: Dermot Lavery, Michael Hewitt

Fri, 8th Nov @ 18:15 • The Everyman Theatre

Adapted from the book that aims to document the stories of the men, women and children who have died as a result of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Lost Lives is an elegiac, powerful and sadly pertinent film that acknowledges the human cost of 50 years of sectarian conflict and comes at a time when the fragility of the peace process is distressingly evident.


Into the West

 DIR: Mike Newell • WRI: Jim Sheridan

Sat, 9th Nov @ 13:00 & Sat 16th Nov @ 18:30 • The Everyman Theatre

The ever-popular tale of two Traveller boys who escape the harsh reality of their grim lives in a Dublin high-rise with the aid of a magical white horse. Papa Reilly  drinks himself into a stupor after the death of his wife. His sons Ossie  and Tito are comforted by the gift of a white stallion, Tír na nÓg, from their grandfather.When their beautiful steed is stolen, they begin a quest to retrieve him and head west, with their father and police in hot pursuit.

CAST: Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Ciarán Fitzgerald, Rúaidhrí Conroy, David Kelly


Irish Shorts 1: Legacies

Sat, 9th Nov 2019 @ 15:30 •  The Gate Cinema Cork City

Bound (Amy Corrigan), Stray (Sinéad O’Loughlin), Cúl an Tí (Stuart Douglas), Pat (Emma Wall), Ruby (Michael Creagh, Peggy and the Grim (Luke Morgan)


The Cave 

DIR/WRI: Tom Waller 

Sat, 9th Nov @ 18:15 • The Everyman Theatre

When the Wild Boars soccer team, consisting of 12 schoolboys and their coach, became trapped deep inside a waterlogged cave in northern Thailand during the summer of 2018, the efforts to rescue them drew the concerned attention of the world. In this thrilling, visceral recreation of events, Irish filmmaker Tom Waller tells the story from the perspective of the people who often made selfless decisions as they witnessed young lives at stake.

CAST: Ron Smoorenburg, Lawrence de Stefano, Eoin O’Brien


Irish Shorts 2: Daughters

Sun 10th Nov @ 13:00 •  The Gate Cinema Cork City

Moth (Allyn Quigley), Young Mother (John Robert Brown), Chestnuts (Tom Lenihan), Relic (Christy Scoltock), Coming to Terms (Patrick Ketch), 134 (Sarah-Jane Drummey), A White Horse (Shaun O Connor), Ciúnas (Tristan Heanue).

Sweetness in the Belly

DIR: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari • WRI: Laura Phillips

Sun 10th Nov @ 17:45 & Mon 11th Nov @ 15:45 • The Gate Cinema Cork City

Having grown up under the guardianship of a celebrated Sufi master after being abandoned by her wayward hippie parents, Lilly  finds herself in Ethiopia and in love during the final years of Haile Selassie’s reign. As revolutionary fervour erupts in violence, she ships to England, where her status as a white woman sees her favoured before black refugees, though her devout Muslim faith means she is still regarded an outsider. She contributes to building a growing community of migrants while searching for her lost love.

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Wunmi Mosaku


Free Radicals

Mon 11th Nov @ 20:45 • The Gate Cinema Cork City

A selection of international experimental filmmaking that includes Meat (Silvio Severino) and Epoch (Kevin McGloughlin).


What Time Is Death?

Tue 12th Nov @ 18:00  Triskel Christchurch

After retiring from the music business, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, formerly The KLF, entered the art world as the K Foundation. Following their biggest artistic statement to date (filming the burning of a million pounds) they signed a contract on the bonnet of a Nissan vowing not to mention the burning for 23 years, then promptly disappeared. Sure enough, 23 years later, in 2017, the K Foundation resurfaced with plans to build a ‘People’s Pyramid’ in Liverpool filled with human ashes.


Irish Shorts 3: Friends, Families & Other Strangers

Wed 13th Nov @ 15:30 • The Gate Cinema Cork City

Evergreen (Dominic Curran), In the Narrow Shade of a Pen (Taro Madden), Just Fine (Ciarán Hickey), The Owl (Neil Winterlich) Limbo (Matthew McGuigan), The Space Between (Elaine Kennedy). 


The Evening Redness in the South

DIR: Colin Hickey

Wed 13th Nov @ 18:00 & Thu 14th Nov @  12:45 • The Gate Cinema Cork City

Amidst images of men at work on building sites, mist rolling over the countryside, gloriously vivid skylines and tenderly reconstructed memories, a narrative of sorts is played out, as the life and loves of an unnamed protagonist (portrayed by Louis Jacob with compelling screen presence) are hinted at.


Irish Shorts 4: Finding Their Place

Thu 14th Nov @ 17:00The Gate Cinema Cork City

Kelly (Solène Guichard), No Place (Laura Kavanagh), Rosalyn (Olivia J Middleton), The House Fell (Maeve Stone), Humblebrag (Sinead O’Shea), In Orbit (Katie McNeice), Wishbone (Myrid Carten), Hasta La Vista (Laragh A McCann).


The Yellow Bittern

DIR: Alan Gilsenan

Thu 14th Nov @ 18:00  The Gate Cinema Cork City

To mark the tenth anniversary of its original release, Cork Film Festival presents a special screening of The Yellow Bittern, Alan Gilsenan’s remarkable documentary biopic of Liam Clancy. Recounting his life in his own words, Clancy’s personal reflections are insightful and inspirational, constructing a revealing portrait of great candour and honesty. Like his musical work, the film is lyrical and poetic, and a fitting tribute to this great man at the end of his life.


Floating Structures

DIR: Adrian Duncan, Feargal Ward

Thu 14th Nov @ 18:15  • Triskel Christchurch

Beginning with the world’s first metal cantilever bridge, which was located in Bavaria, Floating Structures charts a course to Paris where it encounters the visionary engineering work of Ireland’s Peter Rice. Co-directed by visual artist and writer Adrian Duncan and Feargal Ward (The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid), Floating Structures is a flâneur-like quest to consider the gravity-defying mysteries of structural engineering.


Irish Shorts 5: It’s No Longer a Journey Down the Road

Fri 15th Nov @ 16:00 • The Gate Cinema Cork City

Lovestruck (Eli Dolliver), Kathleen (Liam O’Neill), Streets of Fury (Aidan McAteer), Leave the Road Behind You (Daniel Butler), HALO (Michael-David McKernan), John Don’t Know Nothin’! (Conor Kehelly), The Dream Report(Jack O’Shea), Something Doesn’t Feel Right (Fergal Costello).


The Last Right 

DIR/WRI: Aoife Crehan

Thu 14th Nov @ 20:45 •  The Everyman Theatre

A fateful exchange on a flight from New York to Ireland has complicated consequences for Daniel Murphy.He’s left in charge of a corpse, the body of someone he never knew. He is persuaded to take on the challenge of getting an environmentally friendly cardboard coffin from his family home in Clonakilty to Rathlin Island by his autistic younger brother Louis ) and Mary, a flighty young mortician with her own agenda.

CAST: Michiel Huisman, Samuel Bottomley, Niamh Algar, Brian Cox


Irish Shorts 6: Documentary Shorts

Sat 16th Nov @ 12:30 • The Gate Cinema Cork City

Blankets of Hope: Cork Cancer Care Centre (Edvinas Maciulevicius), Outside the Box (Janet Grainger), Postcard from a Crisis (Kathleen Harris, Samuel Meyler), Ramón: Notes from a Beekeeper (Hilary Kennedy), The Last Organist (Paddy McConnell), The Sunny Side Up (Peter Kilmartin), Hydebank (Ross McClean), Recommended Rapper (Caoimhin Coffey), 99 Problems (Ross Killeen), The First was a Boy (Shaun Dunne)


Cork on Camera
Sat 16th Nov @ 15:15  Triskel Christchurch

The Irish Film Institute presents a programme of Cork-themed films from collections at the IFI Irish Film Archive. This year’s programme includes ‘Silent Art’ (1958), a portrait of sculptor Séamus Murphy by Oscar-nominated documentarian Louis Marcus; ‘Travels Through Erin’ (1978), a US homage to the Aran jumper taking a trio of models around Cork on a photo shoot; ‘Dark Moon Hollow’ (1972) following an elderly gentleman as he meanders from Roches Point to Gougane Barra in a film directed by then BBC film editor Colin Hill; and tantalising rushes from ‘Car Touring’ (1965), Jim Mulkern’s uncompleted travelogue of two young couples touring the county.


Screen Ireland World Premiere Shorts

Sat 16th Nov @ 15:30 The Everyman Theatre

Above the Law (Bryony Dunne), Kalchalka (Gar O’Rourke), Welcome to a Bright White Limbo (Cara Holmes), A Better You) (Eamonn Murphy), Maya (Sophia Tamburrini), Christy (Brendan Canty), Sister This (Claire Byrne), Corporate Monster (Ruairi Robinson), A Cat Called Jam (Lorraine Lordan), The Grass Ceiling (Iseult Howlett).

Best of Cork

Sun 17th Nov @ 13:00 • The Everyman Theatre

Blankets of Hope: Cork Cancer Care Centre (Edvinas Maciulevicius), The Space Between Us (Elaine Kennedy),  Coming to Terms (Patrick Ketch), Stray (Sinéad O’Loughlin), Rosalyn (Olivia J Middleton), A White Horse (Shaun O Connor), Outside the Box (Janet Grainger),  Lovestruck (Eli Dolliver).


The Other Lamb

DIR: Małgorzata Szumowska • WRI: Catherine S McMullen

Sun, 17th Nov 2019 @  18:00 • The Everyman Theatre

Hidden away from civilisation, an all-female cult serves its spiritual leader, a man known as Shepherd. Selah has grown into a teenager as part of this self-sufficient community, but as she approaches adulthood, pervasive doubts about her faith inspire dark, bloody visions. As the Shepherd leads his flock on a journey to find a new paradisal retreat, Selah is shocked to learn what her role in the group is to become.

CAST: Michiel Huisman, Raffey Cassidy


Dublin Independent Film Festival

Dublin Independent Film Festival aims to screen a high-quality program of indie films from all over the world and to create a venue for filmmakers and audiences to connect.

The festival’s judges (Roisin Kearney, Daniel F. Holmes, Mark Byrne) and programmers have put together an exciting and truly high-quality program of indie films. Dublin Independent Film Festival’s aim is to discover new talent, films and filmmakers with potential, and to recognise the collaborative work this artform is funded on.


The Festival will take place on the 5th of November 18:00-23:00 at one of Dublin’s most vibrant cultural spaces: Light House Cinema Smithfield. Tickets are free of charge.


After the screening there will be an award ceremony and a networking event with filmmakers and audience opening a space to meet inspiring people from the film industry.



Films Screening 18.00-23.00)





1920s, southern Anhui Province, China. A young bridegroom is visiting his aunt, who lives alone in the distant mountains. Bamboo grows everywhere, like an ocean. 

Rumors swirl around the isolated mansion and the lonely old lady who lives there, but her nephew is determined to maintain family ties.

The rural setting is beautiful, and his aunt seems kind, if subdued. Still, there is that locked room in the attic. And that strange noise. And secrets?




In a bleak British seaside town a family is stalked by an amorphous presence.




A family torn by lost time, love and life.



The Bird and the Whale is a story about a young whale

struggling to find his voice.

After straying too far from his family to explore a shipwreck, he discovers it’s sole survivor, a caged songbird. Together they struggle to survive lost at sea.





Orsi is a single mother, living with her 5-year-old daughter.

She’s just found a man on a dating site who she is about to go on a date with.

This short film is about a special night of a middle-aged mother.





10 marathons in 10 days along the West Coast of Ireland.





Most of us don’t think much about recycling. We rinse our yogurt containers, crush our milk cartons, and break down our boxes. But once our trash hits the curb in a blue or a brown or a green bin, we forget about it. Welcome to Minh Khai, Vietnam – where plastic

from all over the world finds new life.



Would you still perform your art, even if nobody was watching?

After 26 years of professional playing Jai Alai – the fastest ball game in the world- Tevin is trying to bring back the crowds to the court. While remembering the glorious past of this sport in Miami, he tries everything in order to play one last match with a stadium full of people.



A wallflower is thrust into a dilemma with her best friends charming brother. At what point is consent given; do our actions speak for themselves or is verbal expression a necessity.

  1. HOME



Full of grit, raw emotion, heartbreak and determination, ‘Home’ chronicles the narrative behind homelessness through the lens of a cast from all strands of Irish society, from activists and volunteers, to musicians and Oscar winners, to the very victims of the

country’s biggest ongoing crisis.







Ingrid and her son Ross welcome Syrian refugee Ahmed into their home in the quiet

English countryside and find a way to resist the uncertainty and fear we all face.




It is not easy to compete. Two middle-aged women on a tennis court. One hour.




Mockumentary about a spotter-spotter, or someone who takes photos of people taking

photos of trains. He’s about to embark on his bid for the top spot in this year’s

competition. In order to win he will have to overcome the under-handed tactics of his

competitors and the fearsome wrath of angry trainspotters who do not like having their

photos taken.




Keita is a 8-year old boy from a Belgian-Japanese family.

During the summer break, he spends two weeks with his grandparents at the Flemish countryside.

Keita has a difficult relationship with his grandfather and they are both put to the test when they are forced to live under the same roof.



A story about a lonely penguin’s quest for a refreshment on a hot and sunny southpole





It’s the middle of the summer. Frank is going to spend the night out with his friends, as

usual. But this time, by morning, things are not quite the same anymore.



The Wind Phone intimately follows the emotional journeys of seven strangers. Each is drawn to the same remote and eerie phone booth on a Japanese cliffside, although their

conversations couldn’t seem more different.

It is not until one of the callers extends a consoling hand to another, that we begin to understand that they are all connected by one harrowing reality.


Irish Women in Cinema @ Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith

Irish Women in Cinema 25th – 27th October Irish Cultural Centre, Blacks Road, Hammersmith W6 9DT 

In 2018 Screen Ireland announced a new gender policy that would ensure that future productions would be directed equally between male and female directors. This momentous decision has been the spur for The Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith, to invite four eminent female filmmakers to showcase some of their key work and discuss what it was like to be a woman in a male dominated world at a three-day festival (25-27 Oct). The screenings will include Lelia Doolan’s ‘Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey’ a newly restored print of Pat Murphy’s ‘Anne Devlin’, Margo Harkin’s ‘Hush a Bye Baby’ and ’12 Days in July’, and Aisling Walsh’s ‘Song for A Raggy Boy’. As well as introducing their films they will all get together for a panel discussion on the theme of ‘Women in film in a changing Ireland’. The Q&A’s will be chaired by film historian Steve Martin. All four filmmakers have their own unique voices but also share a common desire to ensure equality with their male counterparts. 

Screening times: Irish Women in Cinema Friday October 25th 8pm ‘Song for A Raggy Boy’ followed by a Q&A with director Aisling Walsh. Saturday October 26th 3.30pm: ‘Hush-a-Bye Baby’ followed by a Q&A with director Margo Harkin Saturday October 26th 8pm: The Premiere Screening of the restored print of ‘Anne Devlin’ followed by a Q&A with director Pat Murphy Sunday October 27th 4.00pm ‘12 Days in July’ followed by a Q&A with director Margo Harkin Sunday October 27th 5pm Panel Discussion; ‘Irish Women in Film, In A Changing Ireland’ featuring film directors Lelia Doolan, Margo Harkin, Pat Murphy and Aisling Walsh. Sunday October 27th 8pm ‘Bernadette, Notes on A Political Journey’ followed by Q&A with Lelia Doolan. 

Tickets for Film Screenings £8.00 Tickets for Panel Discussion £5.00

Lelia Doolan, born in 1934, has been described as the godmother of independent film in Ireland. She is without doubt one of the most important voices that agitated for a space where the New Wave of Irish filmmakers of the 80s could tell their stories. The timeline of her career is remarkable. She studied French and German at University College Dublin, where she won a scholarship to study at the Free University in West Berlin but would regularly obtain a pass to cross the border to observe Bertholt Brecht in his studio witnessing him directing plays like ‘The Playboy of the Western World’. 

In 1961 she became a Producer/Director for the new national broadcaster RTE where she caused controversy when she became concerned at the stations unquestioning of the one sided nature of news material being received from USA on the Vietnam War and when she attempted to send a film crew to the war torn country she was prevented from travelling by direct Irish government action. She courted further controversy when she quit RTE, citing her displeasure with their censorship and commercial policies. The notorious right wing Archbishop McQuaid described her as ‘mad, bad, and dangerous. 

After RTE Lelia became the first female artistic director of the Abbey Theatre but could not overcome the boards reluctance to open their doors to new challenging international work and quit after two years. She then changed course and headed to Queens University in Belfast to study Anthropology where during her spare time she gave classes on video production to disadvantaged communities. It was the height of sectarian assassinations and Lelia spent a lot of her time working with the radical priest Fr. Des Wilson, whose Ballymurphy parish was the epicentre of the war between the IRA and the British Army. “I learnt how utterly, shockingly complacent and unaware I was about the North,” Doolan says. After five years in Belfast she worked with an anti-poverty agency in the west of Ireland and with homeless women in Dublin. Also in Dublin she set up Ireland’s first recognised media communication course in Rathmines College. She recognised that the new filmmakers that emerged from Rathmines had no funding possibilities for their ideas she became one of the campaigners that lobbied for a State Agency for Irish film. 

When the Irish Film Board was set up in the late 80s, she produced Joe Comerford’s ‘Reefer and the Model’ which became an art house success worldwide. In 1989 she co-founded the Galway Film Fleadh, now one of Ireland’s most prestige film festivals. In 1991 she established Ireland’s unique Cinemobile that travelled the length and breadth of the country bringing cinema to rural communities. Her tireless endeavours to support indigenous filmmakers was recognised when in 1993 she was appointed to head the Irish Film Board. In 1996 she retired but was not yet ready to rest on her laurels. She continued to champion the art of film whilst also campaigning for LGBT rights and many other social justice issues. 

After receiving a life time achievement award from the Galway Film Festival in 2010 one would have thought she would have been happy to tend to her herb and vegetable garden but after a lifetime of creating a space for filmmakers she decided at the age of 75 to produce and direct her first film ‘Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey’ based on the life of the radical Derry politician Bernadette Devlin. The film received critical success internationally and won best film at the Galway Film Fleadh. She completed one of her final cinematic dreams when she oversaw the establishment of the art house ‘The Cinema Palace’ in her adopted home in Galway. 

Margo Harkin was born in Derry in 1951, one of a family of sixteen children. After graduating from the Ulster College of Art & Design, Belfast she worked as an Art Tutor and Deputy Director of the Derry Youth & Community Workshop for unemployed young people. In 1980 she joined Field Day Theatre Company founded by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea and went on to be the Stage Designer on ‘The Communication Cord’ by Brian Friel and ‘Boesman and Lena’ by Athol Fugard. In 1984 she co-founded Derry Film and Video Workshop, under the Channel 4 franchised workshop scheme. Margo experienced her first taste of censorship when she was a Producer for Ann Crilly’s ‘Mother Ireland’. The film explores the Mother Ireland image as a nationalist motif in Irish culture, and the complex relationship between the national struggle and the Suffrage struggle in the early 20th Century and the republican and feminist movements in the 1980s. It was the first documentary affected by the British Broadcasting restrictions introduced on October 1988 aimed at curtailing dissident Republican and Loyalist voices. Channel 4 was very worried about these restrictions and parked the broadcast until 2001 when they broadcast an edited version as part of their “Banned” season of programs. Even at this point they demanded cuts which included Christy Moore’s song, “Unfinished Revolution plus unseen footage of Emma Groves, being shot with a plastic bullet, and an interview with Mairead Farrell that was partially re-voiced by an actress. 

The Derry Film Workshop had a major success in 1990 when Margo received international acclaim as director on her first drama ‘Hush-a-Bye Baby’. The groundbreaking drama focusing on teen pregnancy in Northern Ireland had a music score written by Sinéad O’Connor, who also made a cameo appearance. Margo’s motivation to make the film was inspired by the 1983 Abortion referendum and the scandal of Anne Lovett, a 15-year- old schoolgirl who died giving birth in a field in the South of Ireland. The film explored the outdated attitudes to sexuality at a time when all around her the ‘Troubles’ dominated the political and domestic landscape of Northern Ireland. The film won “Best Drama” at the International Celtic Film Festival and The Ecumenical Jury Award at the Locarno Film Festival. 

In 1992 Margo set up Besom Productions and established the company as a chronicler of key periods of the conflict in Northern Ireland. She directed key films that are now archival gems that help us understand the sectarianism that divided Northern Ireland and left a legacy of death and destruction. Her films ‘The Bloody Sunday Murders’ 1991, ’12 Days in July’ 1997 and ‘The Hunger Strike’ 2006 established her as a formidable interpreter of political events in the struggle for social justice in Northern Ireland. But it was the film ‘Bloody Sunday: A Derry Diary’ that Margo repeatedly returned to and over a twelve-year stretch from 1998 to 2010, she released three different versions. 

The different inquiries from what became known as the Widgery Whitewash report in 1972 to the Saville Inquiry set up by Tony Blair in 1998 meant she had to update the film as new evidence transpired. The central trust of the film was the voices of local people profoundly affected by the original events in addition to addressing Harkin’s own experiences on Bloody Sunday. When asked by an Irish Times journalist why she made the film, she replied ‘Why? “Because I was there on the day and I remember the complete shock and horror of it and because the aftermath of it taught 

me a huge lesson – that those who control the media control the truth”. Margo is still at the forefront of telling stories inspired by the environment she lives in and recent films like ‘The Far Side of Revenge’ and ‘Eamonn McCann: A Long March’ attest to this. Margo was recently honoured with the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary at the Belfast Film Festival 2019. 

Pat Murphy was born in Dublin in 1951. Her entry into the world of film began with an MA at the Royal College of Art in London where she studied under feminist theorist Laura Mulvey. in 1977 she was the first European to achieve a scholarship year at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, influencing her decision to become a director. She completed a short film, Rituals of Memory, before returning to Ireland to work on her first feature film ‘Maeve’ in 1981. The film was co-directed with John Davies but generally attributed to Murphy was funded by the British Film Institute and later judged by Irish Times film critic Tara Brady to be “Ireland’s first bona-fide feminist film. 

The film opens up a parcel of memories for Maeve as she revisits her place of childhood and adolescence against the background of the so called ‘Troubles’. Murphy’s script reveals her feminist perspective with lines like “Men’s relationship to women is just like England’s relationship to Ireland. You’re in possession of us. You occupy us like an army” and “You’re talking about a false memory… the way you want to remember excludes me. I get remembered out of existence.“. Murphy takes an experimental approach of traditional Irish cinema. Maeve is a dissenting feminist voice that rejects the ideals and obsessions of nationalism in a time of sectarianism between the nationalist and loyalist communities. Murphy recalled her approach: “I didn’t think about story. I’d think something like: representations of Northern Ireland are unsatisfactory: I’m going to make Maeve and sort it all out… Maeve was asking how does a woman position herself against the background of what was going on in the North and within the history of republicanism and memory and landscape”. 

The success of Maeve was followed in 1984 by ‘Anne Devlin’ which is set against the background Robert Emmet’s rebellion of 1803. Anne Devlin was Emmet’s housekeeper and stood by him through thick and thin while friends and allies deserted him. Murphy reflected how Anne Devlin came to her mind when making Maeve: “I read her journals in the evening after shooting was over, and she was so unlike the character Maeve. She was someone who made a very definite commitment and stuck to it when everyone deserted Emmet. She’s almost forgotten, or else dismissed as a star struck peasant who wanted to be seen in Emmet’s company. In fact she was an educated, intelligent woman with integrity”. In contrast to ‘Maeve’ Murphy took a more conventional approach likening her approach to the structure of a ballad. In some ways Anne Devlin’s diaries created a dialogue of sorts between her and Murphy. “It was only when I read her journals that I saw that she was a very basic woman. She would have wanted to marry and have children and live an uninterrupted life except for two things that happened. One was the war that was going on in Ireland at the time and the other was the French revolution and the beginnings of feminism in France and England…… I didn’t want her to sit around and discuss ’women’, but I was interested in her because I was struck by her diaries, I mean remove the specific historical events and it could be a contemporary woman speaking”. Anne Devlin introduced the powerful actress Bríd Brennan to the big screen alongside future Academy nominated Costume Designer Consolata Boyle and the Cinematography of Thaddeus O’Sullivan. The film was nominated for the Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. Interestingly a restored print of the film will have its premier at Irish Cultural Centre’s season of Irish Female Filmmakers courtesy of Screen Ireland. 

Pat went on to direct Nora (2000), based on Brenda Maddox’s biography of Nora which centred on the tempestuous relationship between Joyce and his uneducated Galway bride. Pat assembled a formidable cast with Susan Lynch in the lead role and Ewan McGregor as Joyce. Again, Pat’s focus was on a woman living under the shade of her famous husband. Pat stated, “points out how the all-pervasiveness of Nora’s voice in Joyce’s writing has paradoxically rendered her invisible to the reader,” she explained. The film earned her the United International Pictures Director’s Award and a slew of Irish Film and Television Awards. To date, the it is her only film that remains generally available. 

Aisling Walsh (born Dublin 1958) has seen her work screened at festivals around the world. Her films garnered a BAFTA TV Award for Room at the Top (2012) as well as an Irish Film and Television Award and a Canadian Screen Award for her direction of Maudie (2016). She is known for her “unflinching honest portrayals of a Catholic Irish society” 

Aisling’s first feature film was Joyriders (1989) based on the story of Mary Flynn who in fleeing her domineering husband ends up with Perky Rice, a car thief and hopeless romantic who takes on a joyride through the Irish countryside. Aisling entered the world of TV throughout the 1990s and directed classic TV programmes like The Bill (1991–1994), Doctor Finlay (1993), Roughnecks (1995), and Trial & Retribution (1997–2002). 

In 2003, Aisling returned to the big screen with ‘Song for a Raggy Boy’ based on a Patrick Galvin story. The film begins on the brink of World War II, in the St. Judes Reformatory School, a ruthless Irish school for boys. It was a time in Ireland when horrific stories of institutional abuse at the hands of so-called religious orders were being uncovered by journalists and surviving witnesses. Song for A Raggy Boy unfolds in the stark surroundings of the monastery school. The boys are given numbers instead of names and are forced to scrub the yard on their hands and knees under the watchful eye of the sadistic Brother John (Iain Glenn), a bully who’d rather hand out a savage beating than detention. Brother Mac (Marc Warren) is a paedophile, with a particular liking for 13-year-old Delaney (Chris Newman). The only bright light in this dark world is brought by William Franklin (Aidan Quinn) who has just returned from serving with the International Brigades in Spain, takes up a teaching post in the reformatory and strives at improving literacy but ends in conflict with disciplinarian Brother John. The film won multiple awards at international film festivals, including the Best Film award at the Copenhagen International Film Festival. 

Her fourth feature film, the biographical film Maudie (2016), about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, brought Aisling international success. Maud Lewis was a Nova Scotian artist who before she became a leading light of the Canadian folk-art movement, was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and hidden from the world by her strict family. Aisling stated “I was in Cardiff making a BBC television film about Dylan Thomas when I was sent the script for Maudie. And when I read it, I immediately contacted my agent and said what do I have to do to make this picture? There was just something about it – she was a woman trying to make her way against the odds, and she was a painter.” 

For her work on Maudie, Walsh won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Director; the film won a total of seven awards at the 6th annual ceremony in 2018. Walsh also won the award for Best Director at the 15th annual Irish Film and Television Awards in 2018 for her direction of Maudie. 

“I’ve gone my own road,” she says, “and it’s been lonely on occasions. I’ve been out in the wilderness quite a bit I feel, it has been hard at times, but that’s okay, that’s my choice, and I’m very proud of everything that I’ve done. I’ve worked with some great people, I’ve had some amazing opportunities and I’ve done, I think, some decent work along the way.” 



The IFI Documentary Festival Roundtable Podcast

L-R Paul Webster, Peter Kilmartin, Nodlag Houlihan


Ahead of the 2019 IFI Documentary Festival (25-29 September) Gemma Creagh talks to three filmmakers whose films feature in the Shorts Programme, which takes place on the 28th September. Nodlag Houlihan (Reality Baby ), Paul Webster (The Vasectomy Doctor ) and Peter Kilmartin (Sunny Side Up) join Gemma to talk about their films and what it takes to put together a documentary.

Reality Baby (Nodlag Houlihan)

A group of friends are given lifelike baby dolls to care for over twenty four hours, but how will they rise to the challenges of teenage motherhood?

The Vasectomy Doctor (Paul Webster)

Dr Andrew Rynne was the first doctor to perform vasectomies in Ireland, estimating that he has performed over 35,000. Persevering in the face of opposition from the Church and State in Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s, Dr Rynne continued to challenge the laws governing sexuality, eventually forcing the government to change policy.

Sunny Side Up (Peter Kilmartin)


Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs both served years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. After being exonerated, what are the chances they both met and fell in love?

The 2019 IFI Documentary Festival Shorts Programme takes place on Saturday, 28th September 2019 at 13.30



Filmmakers’ Bios

Nodlag Houlihan is an Irish film director, producer and writer. Her short documentary Reality Baby premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Documentary at the Fastnet Film Festival 2019. She is the writer and producer of the RTE series My Trans Life (2018), nominated for the prestigious Prix Europa and the MIPCOM Diversity Award. She produced the feature documentary Broken Song and a number of Screen Ireland funded short films which have played at festivals around the world and won many prizes. Nodlag also teaches filmmaking at the School of Creative Arts, Trinity College Dublin and has facilitated numerous film projects for young people. She is currently working on The Francis St Photographer, an hour-long documentary for RTE about the work of Dublin photographer John Walsh.

Paul Webster is an award-winning producer, writer and director. He is a graduate of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology and the MA program in Production and Direction at the John Huston School of Film and Media in Galway.  He went on to work in production for Element Pictures and later as a script editor on Fair City, he is now a regular writer on the popular soap. Paul was the winner of the Físín Pitching Award at the Dingle International Film Festival 2012 from which his film Stuama received its funding. He directed the drama which won Best Irish Film at The Cork Underground Film Festival 2013. Let Those Blues InPaul’s documentary about Irish Blues musician, Paddy Smith, was the winner of Best Short Documentary in association with RTE at The Sky Road Film Festival, Clifden, Co. Galway. He was one of the filmmakers chosen by Science Foundation Ireland and The Galway Film Centre as part of their Science On Screen documentary scheme. Written and directed by Paul, Mending Legends goes behind the scenes of Irish sport to explore the unseen drama caused by injuries for our top athletes. It screened on Tg4 in Autumn 2017 and was the third most-watched independent production for that year. Paul co-directed Borderland, a 26-minute documentary exploring the refugee crisis along Europe’s Borders. Under the 2018 Real Shorts scheme, Paul received €20,000 from the Irish Film Board for his docu-drama The Vasectomy Doctor, produced by Carbonated Comet Productions. The film premiered at the Cork Film Festival in November 2018 and went on to win the Audience Award for Best Short at the Dingle International Film Festival 2019, Best Short Film at The Still Voices Short Film Festival and Best Short Documentary at The Louth Film Festival.

Peter Kilmartin is from the Wild Wild West of county Roscommon in Ireland and is a recent graduate from the National Film School of Ireland . He has an avid interest in documentary filmmaking, alongside this he also runs his own successful award winning production company, Spicy Dog Media. This year he directed his debut short The Sunny Side Up, a short documentary about two exonerated prisoners finding love, hope and acceptance in each other.


Film Ireland Podcasts




Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2019: Bruno

Seán Crosson takes in Karl Golden’s Bruno, which follows an Irish homeless man who has drifted into a life on the streets of London.

Homelessness has been among the most prominent social challenges in recent years in Ireland, an issue the current administration has singularly failed to respond to effectively with the number of people classified as homeless crossing the 10,000 mark in recent months. This topic has already been addressed in Irish cinema, including Darragh Byrne’s Parked (2011) and more recently Paddy Breathnach’s and Roddy Doyle’s damning indictment of Irish society and the government’s response to homelessness, Rosie (2018). Karl Golden’s Bruno provides a further development to this theme by focusing on an Irish homeless man living in London, a city to which tens of thousands of Irish people have emigrated (with a considerable number there also ending on the streets). In his post screening Q&A, Golden talked about the background to Bruno as being inspired from his time living in London and encountering homeless people. The production provides a fictionalised and imaginative exploration of what might have happened in the life of one individual he witnessed to lead to their homelessness, as told through the story of Daniel, the central protagonist, brilliantly played by Diarmaid Murtagh.

We encounter Daniel first living with his dog Bruno in a garage lock-up from which he is evicted shortly thereafter. While seeking other accommodation, he witnesses a group of men trashing a local playground, with which we discover later he has a traumatic connection. When Daniel intervenes, he suffers a severe beating and ends up in hospital, losing his dog Bruno along the way. When he returns to the playground in an attempt to find Bruno, he encounters a young run-away boy called Izzy sleeping there. When Izzy insists on following Daniel around the city and helping him find Bruno, Daniel is forced to come to terms with a horrific moment of personal loss in his life. 

Woody Norman as Izzy provides the heart of the film and Norman’s revelatory and complex performance belies his young years – he was only nine when the film was shot. Izzy offers a focus for Daniel in coming to terms with his own deep trauma and eventually a way to reconnect with society and his family. 

The film is impressively shot by Jalaludin Trautmann, whose mostly handheld cinematography perfectly complements Daniel’s inner turmoil. As one audience member at the Galway premiere remarked, London, in all its greyness and glory, has rarely been captured as effectively on film. Golden reflected on the filming process following the Galway screening and described the process as almost guerrilla in nature – given the shoe-string budget available and the lack of permissions for some sequences (shot clandestinely).  

Bruno is marked often by a lack of dialogue or communication; indeed Daniel hardly speaks throughout the entire film (until forced to do so), but yet in his gait and expression he communicates a deeper trauma, only revealed much later in the work. While homelessness may be prominently featured here, Bruno is above all a moving and sensitively told excavation of personal loss.

Seán Crosson

Bruno screened 12th July as part of the 2019 Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July).