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.

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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

 

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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

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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’

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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.

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Podcast: Capital Irish Film Festival

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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.

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The Capital Irish Film Festival

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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.

 

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

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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

 

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