13th Annual Capital Irish Film Festival

Solas Nua presents the 13th Annual Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF) February 28th – March 3rd at AFI Silver in downtown Silver Spring. Celebrating Irish identity, culture and artistry, CIFF brings the best in contemporary Irish cinema to the Washington, DC, area.

The Festival opens with Nick Kelly’s crowd-pleasing buddy dramedy The Drummer & The Keeper, winner of the Best Irish First Feature at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh, and closes with stirring documentary Lomax in Éirinn, a look at American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax’s role in preserving Ireland’s rich folk music heritage. Other highlights include playwright Carmel Winter’s coming-of-age boxing drama Float Like a Butterfly, winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival; found-footage chiller The Devil’s Doorway, with director Aislinn Clarke in attendance; Don’t Leave Home, Ireland’s answer to Get Out, with director Michael Tully in attendance; highly anticipated horror The Hole in the Ground , fresh from Sundance; Ireland’s first stop-motion feature animation, Captain Morten And The Spider Queen; and hot-button documentary I, Dolours with journalist and producer Ed Moloney in attendance. Northern Irish actor Lalor Roddy  is set to attend the festival to discuss his roles in three of this year’s selections.


Capital Irish Film Festival: Chairman, Paddy Meskell & Director, Pat Reilly


John Collins spoke to Chairman of the Capital Irish Film Festival, Paddy Meskell and Festival Director Pat Reilly about the origins and evolution of the festival, the importance of an Irish film festival in Washington and the challenges the festival faces.

The Capital Irish Film Festival celebrates annually the best of new Irish features, documentaries, shorts and animation, and particularly welcomes Irish language films.




Film Ireland Podcasts



Capital Irish Film Festival: Editor, Tony Cranstoun

John Collins spoke to Tony Cranstoun, editor of A Date for Mad Mary and The Farthest, which closed this year’s Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington D.C. John was good enough to send us on his recording of their conversation.

The Farthest chronicles NASA’s 1977 launch of twin space probes, sent to capture images of remote planets and bear messages from Earth.

The Farthest screened on 4th March 2018 as part of the Capital Irish Film Festival


Film Ireland Podcasts


InConversation: Tony Cranstoun


Capital Irish Film Festival: Elynia Betts, Director of Maeve and the Moon


John Collins spoke to Elynia Betts, whose short film Maeve and the Moon screened at this year’s Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington D.C. John was good enough to send us on his recording of their conversation.

When her father offhandedly 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.


Maeve and the Moon screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival on 4th March 2018.



Capital Irish Film Festival: Colin McIvor – Director of ‘The Zoo’


Capital Irish Film Festival: Colin McIvor – Director of ‘The Zoo’



John Collins spoke to Colin McIvor, whose film Zoo opened this year’s Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington D.C.

The film, which features Ian McElhinney, Amy Huberman, Toby Jones and Penelope Wilton, recounts the story of young Tom and his misfit friends, who fight to save ‘Buster’ the baby elephant during the German air raid bombings of Belfast in 1941.



Zoo screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival on 1st March 2018.

Zoo is released in Irish cinemas on 29th June 2018.


Podcast: Capital Irish Film Festival


John Collins was at the 11th annual Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington, USA and met some of the attending filmmakers.


Henrietta Norton, director, and Dan Dennison, DOP, Born and Reared

2017 Capital Irish Film Festival_07

In this interview, John talks to director Henrietta Norton and DOP Dan Dennison about bringing their film, Born and Reared, to an American audience, the challenges for Dan as a photographer working with film, shooting in Belfast, and the overwhelming desire for peace in Northern Ireland.

Born and Reared tells the story of four men in Northern Ireland living in the aftermath of a conflict that ended 18 years ago.

Marie-Therese Garvey, producer of Atlantic


John talks to producer Marie-Therese Garvey about working with Risteard O’Domhnaill on Atlantic , crowdfunding, the power of story, the impact the film is having, the value of film festivals and having Brendan Gleeson on board.

Atlantic focuses on the two biggest resources in the North Atlantic: fish and oil, following the fortunes of three small fishing communities struggling to maintain their way of life.

Kealan Ryan, actor and writer of Lift 


John talks to Kealan Ryan, actor and writer of Lift about bringing his debut indie feature to the festival, getting the dialogue right, the dynamic of the characters, how the project came about, and the different challenges writing novels and scripts.

In Lift, a vicious attack by Sean leaves a man unconscious and him stranded in an elevator with five others.

Hilary Rose, actor in The Young Offenders


John talks to Hilary Rose about celebrating Irish film abroad, what goes into making a good comedy, being a pregnant fishmonger, the success of The Young Offenders and The Sultans of Ping.

John Collins is a producer/director living in Kensington, Maryland. He has an affinity for all things Irish including cinema, literature, music (particularly anything circa 1978-1982) and whiskey. He once played soccer with Bono in Heathrow Airport. His company is called Happy Medium Productions because everybody is always looking for a happy medium.


The 11th annual Capital Irish Film Festival ran 2 – 5 March 2017.


The Capital Irish Film Festival

Solas nua pic

The 11th Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF) will run from March 2 through 5, 2017. CIFF 2017 joins other prestigious D.C.-area film festivals in making its home at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

CIFF showcases films about subjects pertaining to all of Ireland, Irish identity and culture or that are examples of Irish artistry. Entries are invited for feature-length or short films, including comedy, drama, documentary, animation, experimental and musical. CIFF welcomes Irish language films, which must contain English subtitles.

Submissions are free and can be registered online (click on this link)  through Sept. 30, 2016.



Q&A: David Dryden and Eileen Walsh, co-directors of ‘Together in Pieces’



Ahead of its screening at Washington’s Capital Irish Film Festival in the Northern Ireland Shorts programme on Sunday, Adam McPartlan had a few questions for David Dryden and Eileen Walsh, co-directors of Together in Pieces, a new film documenting the fluctuating backdrops of Northern Ireland. The infamous murals that have plagued both communities are being painted over into something more positive.


Why this movie? What drew you in about this story, and why do you think it needed to be told?

The historic city walls in Derry are being used as an unsanctioned political billboard for dissident republicans or factions of a republican nature. The graffiti on these walls stands tall in large white letters overlooking a predominantly Catholic area of the city, the Bogside, the immediate area where Bloody Sunday took place.  The graffiti reads ‘END INTERNMENT’ or ‘UK NO WAY’ and more recently a commemoration to the death of the radical socialist Paddy Bogside.

As Eileen Walsh and myself both live and work in and around Derry, we wondered why these messages were left up and not removed, especially considering their inciting nature and the negative social influence they bring to an already highly politicized area. We wanted to know what visitors and locals felt about this graffiti. Walking past it either for the first time, or every day, we wondered if it was right that children, teenagers and adults of either denomination be exposed to these messages in a publicly shared space and what effect it has on creating a peaceful future.

It seems that this low-level sectarianism is being ingrained into the minds of the city’s youth by this type of graffiti. Young people are especially easy targets for politicization and getting to them young is the best way to perpetuate a divided society.  This is something that the majority do not want so we questioned why we are still being bullied by these slogans. The city’s youth haven’t a chance.


About how many groups are there? Aside from marking their territory, what is it these groups, like the RUC, want to do or hope to accomplish with their graffiti?

There are a multitude of groups from both Republican and Loyalist factions; IRA, INLA, UVF, UDA and UFF, being the main ones.

Often graffiti will tout ‘We haven’t gone away’, which seems to denote that despite the peace agreement, these paramilitary  groups are still a threat, which ultimately is showing defiance to any political ground made in Stormont, advocating a righteous refusal to partake in joint talks based on a sense of entitlement of land or beliefs in a united Ireland.  Often political parties such as Sinn Fein (now in government) are considered ‘sell outs’, particularly by dissidents opposed to the peace process. The graffiti, maintained predominantly in urban areas, is a finger up to the establishment and the police force which serves them.

It is also important to realize that it is also very much perpetuated due to the memory of past tragedies. It can be argued that these deaths are being used to incur sympathy and a vote for a group’s cause; ‘Remember the 14’.

It could be that the graffiti sets out to embed a sense of political unity within the community.  Historically persecuted under British rule and its police force the PSNI (formally the RUC), this idea is perpetuated. These public adverts serve as a show of strength for people whose alternative views have no political representation and who feel like their identity is being eroded away.

Some of the graffiti is a clear show of strength and defiance, for example, by writing over the Derry walls, which themselves are a symbol of Protestant plantations in Ireland. Graffiti is left on these walls because the local council can’t get workers to clean it up for 2 reasons: they will be attacked, and, also, if cleaned up, the graffiti goes straight back up.

Some graffiti has included a twitter address ‘#32CSM’ so there are clear goals to direct people online.

The graffiti often is clearly intimidating, and is there to deter residents from neighborhoods close by from entering or to make them feel unwelcome. It also serves to antagonize the police force which is still seen by many to be an occupying force.


Why do some kids who graffiti not understand what the IRA is, even today?  Are they unwilling to know?

There is a complete systematic failure to educate children about the Troubles. It is an area of history not taught at schools. Schools are largely segregated, and this is a big problem. Any education children get often will be from family and people in the (ghetto) neighborhoods first. They will hear stories and obviously form opinions.

These opinions are also coloured by the history of partition itself, as well as by their political landscape, and the murals, sectarian graffiti, lack of social opportunities and high unemployment they see every day in their neighbourhood.

Children are politicized from an early age without seeing the bigger picture or getting to hear opinions from other sides.  Our film proves that their opinions change quickly when exposed to less bigoted versions from open minded elements in society.


Michael Doherty talks about the losses the Protestants are experiencing.  What are the losses they are dealing with? Why are they experiencing these losses, especially in these times? Why do the Catholics not recognize or understand the losses of the Protestants?

Michael Doherty was a hugely interesting interviewee with a wealth of personal experience through his years of work in peace and reconciliation. In Together in Pieces he talks about the sense of loss felt by Protestants through the Peace Process. He talks about how many Protestants feel a sense of isolation and abandonment through the loss of many things that they hold dear.

After partition, Protestants in Northern Ireland held the majority of seats in government, and with this came massive inequalities in economic, cultural and political representation between Catholics and Protestants, with the majority of Catholics living in poverty. Since the Troubles and the peace agreement and official recognition of these inequalities, these issues are still being addressed today.

The changes that have been taking place have been equal representation in government, so loss of the Protestant majority in government, and room for Republican parties such as Sinn Fein, who, were up until 1994 held to British broadcasting voice restrictions.

The loss of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) – a Protestant majority police force, is mentioned in the film. The RUC has been replaced by a new police service, the PSNI (Police Service Northern Ireland) and this strives to have equal representation from the Catholic community.

Cultural and social changes;  On December 3rd 2012  Belfast City Council voted to limit the days that the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom) flies from Belfast City Hall. This sparked violent protests from Unionists.

After so many years of inequality, Catholics feel like the balance is only being set equal now for fair representation in Northern Ireland.  So for this reason, Catholics don’t understand Protestants’ sense of loss (at the flying of the Union Flag, the RUC, etc.).  They don’t see this as a loss – instead they think that things shouldn’t have been this way to begin with. Protestants are feeling their identity being eroded away, as these great symbols of their culture that once featured dominantly in the landscape are gone.

More importantly there is a lack of public education about these issues and little opportunity or interest in getting people to talk about these issues. This means neither side is ever fully informed about what is actually going on with the peace process. The media perpetuates this situation and too often is more interested in representing negative narratives, rather than reporting on any real change.

In the film, Michael recognises the problems caused by the segregated education and housing systems in Northern Ireland and thinks that the two communities (nationalist and loyalist) don’t understand each other and don’t live together, co-existing in the same place in parallel worlds without actually living together.


In what way(s) do you see the landscape of Northern Ireland changing? Politically, culturally, etc.?  Is it becoming more radicalized or open-minded and accepting?

Northern Ireland is becoming more multi-cultural with large Indian and Chinese communities already established and this trend will continue to grow despite the social issues.  There will be no substantial changes to society between Catholic and Protestant communities unless the issue of segregated schools is addressed and until the so called ‘peace walls’ are removed.

Also political parties are not trying hard enough to work together – they are actively not working together on many issues, and the public cannot understand why they are doing this. This is setting a terrible example for our society and is perpetuating the division and misunderstanding.

The overwhelming problem is the high unemployment rate in Northern Ireland. If people have jobs and something to work for in society they will feel more accepted socially. And as they mix with other people from different backgrounds, there will be less chance of them wanting to get involved in radical movements.

There is still a sense of frustration that things are moving too slowly. People now want politicians to focus more on real issues like the economy and jobs, more on the issues that unite people and less on the issues that divide.

The brightest hope at the moment in Northern Ireland for young people is from graffiti art workshops. City centres are increasingly the focal point for artistic graffiti murals. This colourful street art not only helps to brighten up city centres, making them more welcoming.  It also helps to combat anti-social graffiti, helping to change the attitudes of people living there, while also uplifting mindsets and allowing more creativity into mainstream society.


Do you think the “graffiti movement” ferments these changes, embodies or reflects them, or both? 

Graffiti art is non-political by definition. This philosophy is upheld by most artists. This is a great starting block to base the movement from and to help initiate positive social change, especially in a country so fundamentally divided by politics. Young people here are tired of this political division.

Walls will reflect what you put on them into the mind of the viewer. Similarly, what is in the mind of the artist who paints is projected onto the wall – if the message is positive, then one cannot help but be filled with a positive vision. If the message is negative however, the viewer will be filled with negativity. It sounds very basic but this visual stimuli has a profound effect on one’s mental health. It is primal, and it is proven to be the catalyst to changing mindsets.



The Capital City Film Festival runs 3 – 6 March 2016



Solas Nua’s 10th Capital Irish Film Festival


The documentary Older Than Ireland opens Solas Nua’s 10th Capital Irish Film Festival, which kicks off 3rd March. The film festival, which will run through March 6, continues Friday at the U.S. Navy Heritage Center with two films that imagine murder for profit, one a documentary, the other a darkly comedic fiction. Name Your Poison, which starts at 6 p.m., chases the true story of a Depression-era Irish immigrant who became the target of an insurance scam and earned the nickname “The Rasputin of the Bronx.” Traders, which will start at 8 p.m., imagines a form of cut-throat Capitalism that has laid-off financial whiz kids fighting to the death with winner take all. Filmmakers from both movies will hold a post-screening Q and As.

Saturday takes the film festival to the First Congregational Church of Christ, otherwise known as “Live at 10th and G”, with a shorts program starting at 1 p.m. and three films from Northern Ireland in the evening, including Made in Belfast, which won Best Foreign Film at the Flagler Film Festival. Together in Pieces and Immaculate Misconception will run as a Double Feature at 5:30 p.m. Poison Pen will show at 3:30 p.m. The screenings will be followed by reception with filmmakers sponsored by the Northern Ireland Bureau.

The Sunday shorts program will screen at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market, starting at 1 p.m. followed by a screening of One Million Dubliners at 4 p.m. and a talk with producer Rachel Lysaght.

The festival will close Sunday night, March 6, with a 7 p.m. E Street Cinema screening of a series of short films about The Rising, both factual and fiction, called “After 16.” Produced by the Irish Film Board as part of the 1916 Commemoration, it represents filmmakers’ response to the defining activity of Ireland’s march to nationhood.

Solas Nua, meaning “New Light” in Irish, is a Washington D.C.-based Irish arts organization that presents cinema, theater, music, visual arts, literary events and visual arts. The Capital Irish Film Festival is sponsored by Culture Ireland. For more information, go to www.SolasNua.org


‘Vultures’ Screens at Capital Irish Film Festival



Vultures has been selected for the 10th Capital Irish Film Festival, in Washington DC.

The film tells the story of Sean, a shy young photography student, who is challenged to enter a 24-hour photography competition. To meet the challenge he must confront his fears and step out of his comfort zone. But how far will he go to get “the shot”?

Vultures, which was funded by Northern Ireland Screen, was written & directed by Joe McStravick and produced by Larry Cowan, of Lamb Films.

The film stars Seamus O’Hara (6Degrees and Dinosaurs) and Colin Carnegie (Game of Thrones, High-Rise and The Secret) and was filmed on location in Belfast and Carrickfergus.




The Capital Irish Film Festival takes place in Washington DC  3 – 6 March 2016.








Call For: Submissions for Capital Irish Film Festival


Solas Nua, the Washington D.C.-based Irish arts organization, is calling for submissions of films by or about the Irish for consideration for its 10th Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF). The 2016 festival, scheduled for March 3-6, asks the question: 100 years after the Easter Rising, what does it mean to be Irish?

For information on entering a film for consideration, please go to www.solanua.org/films

In March, the film festival will be a significant event in Solas Nua’s contribution to Washington D.C.’s artistic and cultural exploration of Ireland’s 100-year journey since the 1916 Easter Rising.

CIFF highlights the best of contemporary Irish film and provides opportunities for Washington D.C.-area film lovers to interact with Irish filmmakers. In 2016, CIFF will particularly showcase emerging filmmakers who are addressing the question of Irish identity. CIFF is known for presenting the most Irish language films of any U.S. festival.

Documentary director Sinead O’Brien called showing Blood Fruit at CIFF 2015 “one of the best decisions we ever made for our film.”  “The festival was brilliantly organized and the audiences’ engagement in this and all the Irish films screened was inspiring. From this one screening, Blood Fruit was invited back for a U.S. tour with four screenings in New York and D.C. — and from this tour many more invites have come in.”

“Solas Nua’s Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington DC is marvelously organized and produced by a great team,” said producer director Lelia Doolan. “When I brought Bernadette to the festival in 2013, all the arrangements worked beautifully. The welcome was warm and the audience was engaged, informed and enthusiastic.  I recommend CIFF as an excellent showcase for Irish films in the U.S.”





Report: 9th Capital Irish Film Festival

Adam McPartlan reports from the 9th Capital Irish Film Festival, which brought some of the best of contemporary Irish film to Washington D.C.


The 9th Capital Irish Film Festival was held in Washington, DC on  5 – 8 February. Featured were a number of Irish films, documentaries, and shorts. The organization Solas Nua, with the help of some generous donations, held an extraordinary event that celebrated the beauty of Irish films made within the last year or so, including Frank, Gold, An Bronntanas, Blood Fruit, and A Terrible Beauty.

The films were extremely well-received. By the end of the festival, the entire audience praised the festival organizer and the Board of Directors of Solas Nua for their best festival yet. Certainly for me, as my first film festival of any kind, it was something spectacular.

Each of the films, particularly An Bronntanas, Gold, and Frank, showed the quality of acting Irish movies produce. Maisie Williams (Gold) and Michael Fassbender (Frank) were the two strongest performances of the entire festival. Williams, only a teenager, showed that her age does not measure her maturity; the Game of Thrones star made it exceedingly obvious that she is on her way to being an actor of the highest caliber. Fassbender, already an established actor, showed why he is so good: you see his face for all of fifteen minutes at the end of the film, but his emotions are visible through his papier-mâché mask because he so clearly defines them with his body movements.

An Bronntanas, Ireland’s submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, showed more about Irish film than the other two, because it was primarily spoken in Irish Gaelic. This stunning piece about deception, crime, and drugs kept the audience on the edge of their seats, suspending us all in disbelief when the film came to its catastrophic ending.

In the documentary genre, A City Dreaming, Blood Fruit, and A Terrible Beauty stood out. A City Dreaming, through footage and home videos, shows what it was like for Gerry Anderson, the film’s writer and director, to grow up on the streets of Derry. For anyone who previously knew nothing about the county, this film serves as a wonderful and beautifully edited abridged history.

Blood Fruit seemed to be one of the two highpoints of the festival. A documentary on the Dunnes Store strikers, this film served as a powerful educational film. Eleven workers went on strike after refusing to sell South African fruit during apartheid, and eventually became largely recognized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela for their struggle. For the whole world, particularly Americans given recent events in Missouri and New York, this film is necessary. Eleven people at Earth’s top went on strike because of the disgusting treatment of human lives in a country on the bottom of the world. We should all be so lucky as to have been born with that kind of spirit. Ireland should be extremely proud to be the home not only of this film, but also of the people who the story is about.

The closing show, A Terrible Beauty, was the other audience favorite of the festival. Part documentary/part drama, the movie shows what the Easter Rising was like not at the General Post Office, but in two other areas of Dublin; the Four Courts and Mount Street Bridge. Well-acted and directed, the film blends documentary with drama perfectly, making it clear to the audience how awful the week was, not only for the soldiers, but also for the civilians. After the film ended, one attendee called it “a necessary film to learn of the horrors of war.”

One of the more interesting parts of the festival was the Music and Multimedia Concert. A collection of fifteen shorts were shown, depicting various different forms of art on film. Many were animated shorts, others dance, and still others were pieces of music played while viewing a specific landscape. Most Americans tend to associate Irish music with the lively, upbeat flute, fiddle, and violin. This presentation, however, made it abundantly clear that Irish music can be so much more than that. Beautiful compositions played on piano, cello, and guitar accompanied scenes of waves crashing against the shore and the rolling, green mountains of Ireland. While not the most exciting event, it was certainly one of the more aesthetically pleasing ones.

This film festival on the whole was a great experience. Moreover, it serves as a great way to bridge the Irish film and arts industry into the American market. All of the films were produced with a quality that would be worthy of Oscar recognition, specifically Blood Fruit, An Bronntanas, Frank, and Gold. The musical compositions during the presentation were made with such intense skill, one might have thought them to be classical pieces from centuries ago. The festival certainly showed some of the bright lights Ireland has to offer not just the cinematic world, but the artistic world on the whole.

Of course, America has been paying attention to Irish cinema on another level for a few years already. In 2009, Ireland was given its first ever Oscar nomination in the Animated Film category. The Secret of Kells, unfortunately, lost to the Pixar production Up, but showed American filmgoers that Ireland is more than capable of producing beautiful works of art. Tomm Moore’s beautiful production and animation is something that, no matter how old you are, brings tears to your eyes at every viewing. It is one of the best animated films I have ever seen, and deserves to be known all around the world.

As if Moore’s first film being an Oscar nominated film wasn’t enough, he followed it up with another, even more beautiful film, Song of the Sea, and gained a second Oscar nomination. His career is so new, but given his artistic brilliance, I can see this man becoming Ireland’s Hayao Miyazaki, with the possibility of being even better than Miyazaki someday. Even if Moore never eclipses Miyazaki, Moore will still be the pinnacle of Irish animators, and one of the greatest animators of history.

The Capital Irish Film Festival is not only a success just because it sold out for every showing on every day.  It is a success because of what it offers Americans in DC: the chance to see movies worth watching that the ordinary citizen doesn’t get to see. It is a success because of the beauty it brings to our Capital. It is a success because it is inspiring other festivals devoted to Irish film around the country. Next year will be its tenth year, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. You can bet that what happens next year will almost certainly be another giant step forward for Irish cinema and art in America, for the festival, and for Solas Nua.

America owes most of its own history to the Irish. There are forty million Irish-Americans, almost one-seventh of the entire population of the United States. All of us should be constantly looking for a way to go home again, even if we can’t fly there. Film festivals and arts festivals like these bring us home.  Watching the films produced by Irish filmmakers, listening to the music composed by Irish composers, and enjoying the animation crafted by Irish animators… these are the things that tell me, as it should tell everyone, that Ireland will change the face of cinema, not just in the eyes and ears of Americans, but for the heart and soul of the world.

On behalf of all Americans, go raibh maith agat, Éireann.


Adam McPartlan is a 22-year-old student at the Catholic University of America.  He is graduating in May with a history degree, and hopes to be a film critic.


Listen to Adam’s interviews from the festival:

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with producer Dave Farrell & actor Colin Farrell of ‘A Terrible Beauty’

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Sinéad O’Brien, director of ‘Blood Fruit’

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Anne Anderson, the 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Paddy Meskell, Chairman of the Board of Solas Nua


Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with producer Dave Farrell & actor Colin Farrell of ‘A Terrible Beauty’

A Terrible Beauty 1 (1).jpg.opt560x319o0,0s560x319Image: Hugh O’Conor

A Terrible Beauty/Áille an Uafáis screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival (5 – 8 February).  The 93-minute feature docudrama set during the Irish Rebellion of 1916 tells the largely untold story of displaced young men, women and children caught up in a chain of events which would have tragic consequences leaving many innocent people dead.

Adam McPartlan talks to producer Dave Farrell and actor Colin Farrell, who plays Frank Shouldice, about the film.

Interviews from the festival:

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Sinéad O’Brien, director of ‘Blood Fruit’

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Anne Anderson, the 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Paddy Meskell, Chairman of the Board of Solas Nua


Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Sinéad O’Brien, director of ‘Blood Fruit’


Adam McPartlan spoke to Sinéad O’Brien, whose documentary Blood Fruit screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival (5 – 8 February). Blood Fruit tells the story of the Dunnes Stores strikers in 1980’s Dublin. Mary Manning, a 21-year-old Dunnes Stores checkout girl, refused to sell two Outspan grapefruits under direction from her union in support of the anti-apartheid struggle. She and ten other supporters were suspended and a strike ensued. The 11 knew little about apartheid and assumed they’d be back to work before long but the arrival on the picket line of activist Nimrod Sejake changed everything, setting the strikers on a path they could never have expected.




Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Anne Anderson, the 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States

Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Paddy Meskell, Chairman of the Board of Solas Nua


Capital Irish Film Festival: Audio Interview with Paddy Meskell, Chairman of the Board of Solas Nua

The ninth Capital Irish Film Festival (5 – 8 February 2015)  brought some of the best of contemporary Irish film to Washington D.C. This year’s highlights included a screening of Frank, Niall Heery’s GoldSinéad O’Brien’s fascinating documentary Blood Fruit and Keith Farrell‘s A Terrible Beauty.

Adam McPartlan attended the festival and, in the first of a series of audio interviews, speaks to Paddy Meskell, Chairman of the Board of Solas Nua, a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts, who run the Capital Irish Film Festival.



Capital Irish Film Festival

The ninth Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF)  brings some of the best of contemporary Irish film to Washington D.C. The festival runs from Thursday 5th February through Sunday 8th February.

This year the festival has an exciting selection of shorts, narrative features, documentaries and even a special program of beautiful music and multimedia works.

Highlights include Niall Heery’s offbeat comedy Gold, Tom Collins’ edgy thriller An Bronntanas (The Gift, in both Irish and English and Ireland’s nomination as Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards) and Lenny Abrahamson’s quirky and endearing Frank starring Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The festival concludes with a presentation of  A Terrible Beauty, a docudrama that takes a unique look at the Easter Rebellion that took place in Dublin in 1916. The film relies on first hand accounts from Irish Volunteers, British soldiers and civilians caught up in the conflict to tell the story of the Rising’s most ferocious battles. Directed by Keith Farrell. Language: Gaeilge/Irish and English with subtitles.

This year’s films shed a new light on many aspects of Irish life, history and identity that will surprise, entertain and fascinate.

Further information at  http://www.solasnua.org/press/ciff2015

Want to know all about CIFF 2015? Download the PDF Brochure for full details or take a look at a  calendar for descriptions and trailers.


CIFF Accepting Online Submissions

The Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF), a production of Solas Nua (Washington D.C.) will run from Thursday, Jan. 22 through Sunday, Jan. 25 2015. It will showcase new Irish features, documentaries, shorts and animation, Irish language films, with a special emphasis on emerging talent in the Irish film industry. Now in its ninth year, CIFF has become the largest Irish film festival in the U.S.

Submission Information

Deadline for submissions is June 30, 2014.

There is no fee to submit a film to CIFF.

To make an online submission visit www.solasnua.org/ciff to fill out the online application form. You’ll need to provide a streaming link to your film.

Prefer the mail in option?

Visit www.solasnua.org to download an an application form.. Pack it up with your NTSC* DVD Film Screener and send to:

Pat Reilly, Solas Nua c/o Flashpoint, 916 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

Label the outside of your package – ATTN: CIFF



Call For: Submissions for Capital Irish Film Fesitval


Illustration: Adeline Pericart


The Capital Irish Film Festival have issued an open call for films.

The Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF), a production of Solas Nua (Washington D.C.) takes place  22 – 25 January 2015.  The festival will showcase new Irish features, documentaries, shorts and animation, Irish language films, with a special emphasis on emerging talent in the Irish film industry. Now in its ninth year, CIFF has become the largest Irish film festival in the U.S.

Submission Rules

Deadline for submissions is 30th June, 2014.

There is no fee to submit a film to CIFF.

Submission method: Make your submission by mail with a completed application form.

Mail to: Pat Reilly, Solas Nua c/o Flashpoint, 916 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

Label the outside of your package – ATTN: CIFF

Format: NTSC* DVD Film Screener.

Please note this is ESSENTIAL for selection screening purposes; PAL format is NOT acceptable)

Labeling: DVD should be labeled with the name of the film, the director’s name, the length of the film and contact details (email, phone, website)

Materials will not be returned.

For more information visit Capital Irish Film Festival


Capital Irish Film Festival Schedule

The CIFF Schedule has been announced:

Thursday, December 5, Programming from 6:30pm – 11pm

6:30 PM Life’s A Breeze, E Street

Purchase tickets for Life’s a Breeze through E Street Cinema


9:00 PM Opening Night Reception, Aria

Friday, December 6, Programming from 7pm – 11pm
7:00 PM, Skin in the Game, Goethe Institut
8:30 PM, Stalker, Goethe Institut

Saturday, December 7, Programming from 10am – 10pm
10:30 AM, Children’s Program, Goethe Institut

  • Bia Duchais
  • Fear of Flying
  • Fionnuala: A Small Puppet on a Big Journey

12noon, Irish Films, Goethe Institut

  • Bia Duchais
  • Prata (Our Native Food, The Potato)
  • Scoil Samhraidh

2:00 PM, Shorts Program, Goethe Institut

  • Fear of Flying
  • After You
  • Downpour
  • Spot
  • Toy Soldiers
  • The Note

4pm Tapestry of Colours, Goethe Institut

6pm Home Turf  with When Ali Came to Ireland, Goethe Institut

8pm OFFline Film Festival winners with Good Cake Bad Cake: The Story of Lir, Goethe Institut

Sunday, December 8, Programming from 12noon – 8pm
12noon Irish Films Goethe Institut

  • Bia Duchais, Prata (Our Native Food, The Potato)
  • City Wild

2pm, Life’s a Breeze,  Goethe Institut

5pm, Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey, Goethe Institut

6:30 PM Director Talk with Lelia DoolanGoethe Institut

7:30 PM Closing Reception Goethe Institut


This year’s festival theme is “The Irish on Ireland,” a look at modern and historical Ireland by Irish filmmakers. The four-day festival runs from 5-8 December, 2013.

Solas Nua the only organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts.

For more information about the festival visit capitalirishfilmfestival.org


Capital Irish Film Festival call for Entries

Entry is now open for the Capital Irish Film Festival, the largest Irish film festival in the U.S., which will be held in Washington DC from 1–10 December 2011. Irish films are being sought in the fields of features, shorts, documentaries and animation – including those in the Irish language.

Previous applicants are encouraged to apply with a new submission. The DVD Film Screener must be in NTSC format (PAL is not acceptable). The DVD is to be labeled with the name of the film, the director’s name, the length of the film and relevant contact details. Filmmakers should include a short synopsis of not more than 150 words which also indicates whether the film has previously screened in the U.S.

Non-profit United States organization, Solas Nua is behind the Capital Irish Film Festival, as well as a critically acclaimed theatre season, Irish Book Day, the DC Irish Writers Festival, visual arts exhibitions, the Éist monthly music podcasts, a free film screening series, a book club and dozens of special events annually.

All submissions should reach Solas Nua by 13th June, 2011. Entries should be sent to:

Emma Madigan, The Capital Irish Film Festival, Solas Nua, 916 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001, USA


The 6th Capital Irish Film Festival

Maya Derrington, Director of Pyjama Girls, accepts the Audience Award -Best Feature for the film (Emma Madigan, Capital Irish Film Fest Co-ordinator

Maya Derrington (left), Director of Pyjama Girls, accepts the Audience Award
-Best Feature for the film from Emma Madigan (right), Capital Irish Film Fest

Colette Breen reports from the The 6th Capital Irish Film Festival, held from 2–11 December 2010 in  Washington DC.

This year’s Capital Irish Film Festival continued to showcase the very best of Irish features, documentaries and shorts to DC audiences with over 50 films in the line-up including a number of US Premieres.

The Festival opened with Paul Fraser’s charming My Brothers, Perrier’s Bounty and the US premieres of Between the Canasl and Savage. Director of Between the Canals, Mark O’ Connor and actor Peter Coonan skyped-in to give the audience an insight into the making of the film, particularly the use of non-actors. The opening weekend concluded with a screening of the mock rock doc The Alarms, followed by a panel discussion on ‘How to make your first film’ with first-time directors Mark Cantan (The Alarms), Ronan Connolly (Norman & Margaret) and James Phelan (The Ottoman Empire).

Other screenings of note included John & Kieran Carney’s Zonad, Ken Wardrop’s His & Hers and Liz Mermin’s Horses. The coming-of-age film, 32A, was a great audience hit, some of whom relived their own days growing up in Dublin in the late 70s and were delighted to ask director Marian Quinn about behind the scenes filming!

Linda Murray (Artistic Director, Solas Nua) interviews Marian Quinn after the screening of 32A

Linda Murray (Artistic Director, Solas Nua) interviews Marian Quinn
after the screening of 32A

The work of the Darklight Festival was also showcased with two sessions designed to immerse US audiences in the Darklight experience including a special Darklight Heroes: DC Edition, during which Berlin-based animator David O’ Reilly’s Mixtape of Doom was screened. In the State of the Nation programme, Darklight Festival Director Nicky Gogan, presented a selection of films especially curated for the DC audience to reflect Ireland’s current social climate and the state of independent Irish film-making. Nicky and fellow producer and director Paul Rowley led a wide-ranging interactive session which included a chat with Irish guerrilla musician and director, Declan de Barra (Nun’s Fight Club).

Pyjama Girls was one of the big hits of the Festival as it debuted for its US premiere and captivated the audience with its unusual premise. The film’s director, Maya Derrington, was on hand to explain the inspiration behind the film and the filmmaking crew’s relationship with the main characters. The Festival closed with Carmel Winters critically acclaimed directorial debut Snap.

The inaugural CIFF awards were announced at the closing party: Critics Award (My Brothers), Audience Award – Best Short (Noreen) and Audience Award – Best Feature (Pyjama Girls).

Colette Breen is a Princeton-based lover of Irish film