Review of Irish Film @ Cork Film Festival: Irish Shorts 1: The Cycle of Life

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Rebecca Graham takes a look at Irish Shorts 1: The Cycle of Life – a selection of Irish short films that screened at this year’s Cork Film Festival.

 

The first selection of Irish short films screened at this year’s Cork Film Festival was a wonderfully eclectic mix of styles and techniques, showcasing some of the immense talent at work in Ireland’s film industry. The shorts on show dealt with the themes of love, ageing and death, as the title The Cycle of Life suggests. In the first short, City of Roses, a voiceover introduces a young boy as he bravely, or foolishly, rescues an old suitcase from a towering bonfire. Inside the suitcase, the boy discovers old letters which describe the tragic love story of Paddy, who emigrated to America, and the woman he fell in love with, Rose. Interposed with the live action scenes of the young boy and his mom reading the letters is a beautiful animation of Paddy and Rose’s life in America. Directed by Andrew Kavanagh, this moving film, based on true events, manages to capture the hopefulness and possibility of youth while revealing the finality and seeming injustice of death. The unique style of the animation leaves a lasting impression ensuring the story of Paddy and Rose lingers in the mind long after the final scene.

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The unfairness of death is once again forcibly felt in the skilfully-crafted and moving documentary, A Beautiful Death, directed by Patrick McDermott. A Beautiful Death follows a care worker, James, as he carries out his daily rounds of caring for and supporting elderly people in his community. The scenes of the young, charismatic James at work are poignantly cut with home-video footage of James as a young boy with his mother. James’ heart-breaking revelation of his motivations for doing this difficult, demanding work imparts a positive sense of the power and wonder of life in spite of the pain and suffering that accompanies death.

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The struggle to find meaning and positivity when faced with life’s challenges underlines Paul Heary’s Neolithic Patchwork Quilt, a film that centres on Herman, an ordinary Irish man, who is being treated for cancer. His illness gives Herman a negative outlook, reinforced by the film’s dark, grey colour palette. His wife wants him to practice mindfulness but Herman’s mind cannot stay in the present. His thoughts wander across times and Galaxies, and the viewers are taken through his wanderings, continually returning to images of Neolithic cave people. Herman’s wandering thoughts create a sense of the interconnectedness of all human life in a vast, unimaginable universe. The acting is excellent throughout, and the dramatic twist at the end is intelligently engineered to shock viewers.

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Following the shocks of Neolithic Patchwork Quilt, Jonathan Shaw’s subtler short, Pebbles, deals with the fallout of betrayal in love. Pebbles focuses on Ruby’s return to a hotel she stayed in fifty years previously. She sees flashbacks of her younger self in the throes of love. The quiet slow pace of the film reflects the slow inevitable passing away of youth and romance. Marie Mullen’s performance as the lost and lonely Ruby is powerfully understated. The décor of the hotel is unchanged from Ruby’s honeymoon visit. There is a sense that Ruby is stuck and has come to the hotel looking for closure in order to move on with her life. Within the confines of the hotel, Ruby and her husband are sheltered from the elements that have buffeted and beset their former lives together. The conversations are elliptical. There is a weight of things not said, feelings not expressed, wrongs that will never be made right. The small grey pebble Ruby returns to the beach is the symbolic weight of heartbreak and loss she has carried with her. She lays it down, ending this intelligent, engrossing film with a moment of a hope.

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Following this quiet pebble creating gentle ripples on love and loss and moving on, comes the boulder of a short film, Robert McKeon’s Wifey Redux. This is a loud, hilarious and angry portrait of middle-age, based on the highly-acclaimed Irish writer Kevin Barry’s short story of the same name. Starring Aidan McArdle as Jonathan Prendergast, Wifey Redux is a darkly comic insight into the difficulties of sustaining a happy marriage. Angeline Ball plays Jonathan’s beautiful wife who, in every scene, is clutching a wine-glass in the pristine surroundings of their large, luxurious Dublin property. Jonathan’s run-ins with his teenage daughter’s boyfriend and later, with the exclamation mark of a shop sign, are perfectly acted, timed and shot. Though revealing the bitter regrets and losses that can accompany middle-age, this is a highly entertaining film with many laugh-out-loud moments that audiences can relate to.

 

In a change of tone, Brian Crotty’s Crash Bang Wallop is an experimental exploration of love and relationships, which originally formed part of an art exhibition. A number of different scenarios are played out including the first meeting of a couple at a fancy dress party: He is the Titanic, she is an ice-cube (which is close enough to an ice-berg for him). His rhythmic Cork accent and bright red face (one of the ship’s funnels) create an endearing sense of his innocence and naivety. As they chat and he makes jokes, viewers cannot but want this couple to fall in love. The film flips between different, increasingly strange scenarios, highlighting the raw emotions associated with love such as lust, anxiety, and anger. There are many funny moments, the acting is convincing, and it is all accompanied by an energetic soundtrack.

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The final short film, Proceeds of Crime, provides a unique viewing experience, using animation and the alphabet to draw attention to Dublin’s gangland crime. At just three minutes long, David Quinn’s very short short brings humour, satire, and wit to the political reality of the dangers of organised crime and the Irish government’s inadequate responses. It ends the selection of shorts on a political note. Viewed together this intriguing selection of shorts creates a narrative of love and hope in the face of overwhelming pain and grief, underscored by the potent power of humour to provide relief in the most agonising of circumstances.

 

Irish Shorts 1: The Cycle of Life screened on 15 November 2016.

The Cork Film Festival 2016 runs 11 – 20 November

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RTÉ 2 Screening Limerick Film Trilogy

Full details on www.limerickfilmfestival.net or email limerickfilmfestival@lit.ie

RTÉ 2 is screening The Limerick Film Trilogy over three weeks in November on the Monday night Shortscreen slot. The trilogy consists of three short films that were made with the support of Limerick City of Culture in partnership with Behind the Scenes. The scheme also received assistance from Screen Training Ireland. The dates for screening are:

LIMERICK TRILOGY – Day Off – 7th Nov ’16

LIMERICK TRILOGY – The Apparel – 14th Nov ’16

LIMERICK TRILOGY – Date: Time – 21st Nov ’16

 

This ambitious project was realised by Film Limerick Project Manager Ronan Cassidy and acclaimed Limerick writer and director Gerard Stembridge.  The idea behind the project was a way of providing training and experience for those seeking to break into the film industry. Three short films were produced using local filmmakers mentored by industry professionals. Gerard Stembridge selected three writers and worked with these writers individually to make each script as good as it could be. He also took an overview, looking for connecting features and elements that would create links between the stories.

The writers were given maximum freedom to tell whatever story they wanted to tell. The stories had to be contemporary and preferably unfold within a limited time period and Limerick City itself was to be evident as the backdrop. The use of locations in the city is therefore at the heart of each of the films. Even though the films are quite separate stories and work as stand-alone films, seen together they are subtlety linked.

Three teams were put together with everyone who took part gaining invaluable experience from top industry professionals. The teams consisted of three first time writers and three first time directors. In addition there were DOP’s, sound operators, set designers, wardrobe, make-up, hair etc., each team being mentored by designated industry professionals.

Gerard Stembridge worked with the directors on casting to secure the best available local talent for the individual films. He also oversaw the filming and mentored the directors on set and ensured that the important linking elements between the stories were taken care of, so that the final product would stand up as a single entity.

For those who miss the screenings, there will be an opportunity to catch up on player at: http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/shortscreen

 

Synopsis of films:

 

Day Off (Drama):

Laura struggles at first to come to terms with her husband’s life-changing affliction, the early-onset dementia. Her only distraction is her Day Off, where once a week she finds time to see her friends and socialise.

 

The Apparel (Comedy):

Joesph is a forty-something whose life seems to be unravelling just a little. Moved into emergency accommodation with an unkempt twenty-something, he clings to the last vestiges of the life he knew before – his job as curator of an art gallery.

 

Date: Time (Romantic Comedy):

A romance develops between Ann and Bob, but his bad habit of being continuously late is taking the excitement away and she feels taken for granted.

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‘Maeve and the Moon’ Wraps

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Filmed in Wicklow and Monaghan, new Irish short Maeve and the Moon just wrapped on a four-day shoot. Privately funded and sponsored in part by Teach Solais, this marks the debut short film by writer and director Elynia Betts.

 

Poppy Caraher, who made her brilliant debut as the lead in The Boring Diary of Frances Noone, stars as ten year old Maeve. When her father off handedly remarks that her mother is “asking for the moon,” imaginative and resilient Maeve decides to set off on her own to find the moon and bring it home. After sourcing a boat from a local fisherman, and inspiration from Yeats, Maeve finds herself among the moon’s Eight Phases–putting the success of her quest on an unusual path.

 

Emma Eliza Regan (Darkness on the Edge of Town, Get Up and Go), who just wrapped on Tom Collin’s new feature Penance: Aithri, also stars as Rhiannon–the Irish-speaking leader of the Phases. In another leading role is Seán McGillicuddy (Sineater) as the Fisherman, who is much more than what he appears to be. Maeve’s parents are played by Jeanne O’Connor (Éirí Amach Amú) and Declan Reynolds (Love/Hate). Other talent includes Sohaila Lindheim (Red Room) and Martina Babisova (Operation Liberland). The film was shot on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera by Limerick director of photography Niall Coley.

 

Combining Irish mythology with childhood whimsy, ‘Maeve and the Moon’ aims for the 2017 film festival run in Ireland and abroad.
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Call For: Submissions for Irish Film Festa

 

 

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The 10th edition of Irish Film Festa, which will take place in March 2017, is now open to submissions for short films from Ireland.

 

In order to be eligible for Irish Film Festa competition, films must be under 30 minutes in length and produced or co-produced in Ireland.

 

Accepted categories are Live Action, Documentary, Animation.

 

Entries must be submitted as an online screener link to submissions.IFF@gmail.com or as a DVD to

Associazione Culturale ARCHIMEDIA
via Segesta 16
00179 Roma (Italia)

 

Deadline is December 20th, 2016. No fee requested.

 

DVDs sent by post will not be returned.

 

Out of all the accepted entries, Irish Film Festawill select – at its sole and absolute discretion – a shortlist of films for the competition. Irish Film Festa will notify all the authors of selected films; not-selected applicants won’t be notified.
Within a week after admission, authors of selected film must provide:

  • a high-definition copy of the film (Digibeta/DCP/DVD/Blu-Ray)
  • a timecoded dialogue list
  • a high-resolution still from the film to be used for the festival catalogue


Please note that this is mandatory. If a timecoded dialogue list won’t be provided, the short film will be disqualified from the competition.

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Don’t Run’ Screens @ Underground Cinema Film Festival

Official Don't Run Poster

 

 

Don’t Run is a 6-minute short film from Reckoner Productions telling the story of ‘The Architect’ played by Eoin Quinn (Fair City, Portrait of a Zombie, Limp, Mirror Image) who receives a strange call in the middle of the night from someone claiming to be him, giving only one simple message – “Don’t Run.” From here ‘The Architect’ is led to a discovery that will change his fate forever.

Shot on a zero budget, both Alan Dunne (Against The Wall, IDLE) and Eamonn Tutty (Anna, Mirror Image) wanted to create an unnerving story that plays on the mind and stays with you long after the credits.

Don’t Run for me was such a great project to make. We had a small but incredibly talented cast and crew. We wanted to tell an original story that would stay with the audience long after the credits rolled.  Creating the look and feel of the film was a challenge but amazingly it turned out better than we could have imagined. We were able to achieve this by working with our small crew and following strict rules we set for ourselves during the filmmaking process” says Alan Dunne.

“Securing budgets and raising funds is always a hard task, but the worst thing is getting complacent while waiting on news of development. It is important to keep active, hone your skills and practice. I felt this was a piece that could do just that, challenging Alan on a technical level for a vfx heavy piece, challenging ourselves with organising the shoot and getting the best team to push it to completion. Eoin did a fantastic job getting the subtleties and nuances right for the character. The whole team did a great job and you can see it on screen,” says Eamonn Tutty.

“Working on Don’t Run was quite an experience. Not just an acting challenge but also blocking was very important so that post-production would look perfect. It was great to be involved in such an original shoot that I feel will leave the audience scratching their heads” says Eoin Quinn.

The film was directed, edited cinematography by Alan Dunne and written by Alan Dunne and Eamonn Tutty, produced by Alan Dunne and Eamonn Tutty, starring Eoin Quinn, with Sound Op’s from Tadhg Collins & Tom Stafford, sfx mua Niamh O’Malley, music by SL – 88, sound mixing and& mastering by Luis Diaz, and colour grading by Sean Buffini.

Don’t Run will have its official premiere at the Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday September 10th at 3pm in the Royal Marine Hotel.

For tickets, click and follow the link below.

http://www.ucff.ie/

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Irish Short Film Review: Radha

 

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Stephen Porzio takes a look at Nicolas Courdouan’s  22-minute drama with horror elements. The short recently had its world premiere at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Providence, RI (19 – 21 August ) and will go on to compete at the Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, OR (7 – 9 October).

 

A meditation on grief, as well as a nicely twisty and surprising horror, Nicholas Courdouan’s Radha is a rather effective short film. Sue Walsh stars as Saoirse, a woman trying to form a new life in the aftermath of a tragic event, who stumbles upon the enigmatic titular dancer (Kojii Helnwein).

The short benefits from some memorable, well-executed set-pieces. For example, Radha’s central dance would not be as compelling if it wasn’t so tightly edited. The camera lingers on her contorted body, not revealing her face. This is then juxtaposed with the gazes of her gaunt-looking viewers, who she claims she “helps”, creating a real sense of dread, even when the viewer is unaware of what exactly there is to fear.

The clothing and lighting contribute to this paranoid atmosphere. Through the dark moodiness of the room and the way Radha’s black hair and clothes hang off her body, the short evokes the feel of a J-Horror. At times, the titular character resembles Sadako from Ringu, particularly with the unnatural way she moves.

There are moments within the short where the dialogue does not ring true and is delivered rather stiltedly. However, this is easy to forgive when there is so much else to like. The final scene, taking place on a beach, is gorgeous looking, resembling the coastal scenes from the similarly Irish Calvary and The Eclipse. Also as it continues, Courdouan’s film interestingly plays with audience expectation. Radha is less the villain we expect and more a beacon to Saoirse of what the movie’s title translates to in Irish (vision, sight, aspect).

The short also builds an intriguing mystery. Who is Radha and where does she come from? This is something I would be curious to see explored to some degree should Courdouan expand this twenty-two minute short into a feature length.

 

 

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‘Falling In Love’ Premieres @ Montreal

Oisin Robbins and Ingrid Saker in Falling In Love

Oisin Robbins and Ingrid Saker in Falling In Love

 

Falling In Love, a short film featuring emerging young Irish actor Oisin Robbins, will premiere at the prestigious ‘Focus on World Cinema’ section of the 40th Montreal World Film Festival from 25th August to 5th September 2016.

An independent Irish production Falling In Love depicts the hopelessness the new generation of post Celtic Tiger cubs have grown up to face.

Playing loosely with the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus the film dramatically portrays the gritty reality of life on the margins of modern-day small town Ireland.

Directed by Finian Robbins the film is a sequel Railway, which explored similar themes in a humorous way.

Both films will be screened at the Underground Film Festival in Dun Laoghaire from 9th to 11th September.

Falling In Love was shot on location in Clara, County Offaly.

 

 

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Film Board Shorts @ Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, Bristol

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The programme for the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival will this year include six Irish Film Board supported shorts, including a mixture of live action and animation, documentary and fiction.

Two films have been selected from After ’16, a series of films commissioned by the Irish Film Board to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Set in 1970s Belfast, The Party was directed by Andrea Harkin and produced by Farah Abushwesha and Emmet Flemming. A Terrible Hullabaloo is an animated short directed by Ben O’Connor, written by Aoife Noonan and produced by Bob Gallagher.

Three films were selected from the Frameworks scheme, co-financed by the IFB and RTÉ. City of Roses reveals a true story of love, loss and hope. It was written and directed by Andrew Kavanagh and produced by Jackie Leonard. A Coat Made Dark has already travelled to a number of international festivals including Clermont-Ferrand and Sundance. Written and directed by Jack O’Shea, it was produced by Damien Byrne. Geist has screened at SXSW and picked up prizes at Fastnet, ADIFF and IFTA. Written, directed and edited by Sean Mullen, Ben Harper, Alex Sherwood, it was produced by Daniel Spencer.

Starring Eileen Walsh, How Was Your Day? was written and directed by Damien O’Donnell and produced by Emmaline Dowling. It picked up the Best Narrative Short prize at SXSW and was also a winner at Foyle Film Festival, an Academy Awards qualifier.

Encounters takes place in Bristol from September 20th – 25th 2016.

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