Shot on a micro budget in 13 days, Paul Kennedy’s debut feature, Made in Belfast, was met with rave reviews when it premiered the Belfast Film Festival. The film is now set to screen at the Galway Film Fleadh, and stars Ciarán McMenamin (One Hundred Mornings), Owen McDonnell (Single-handed) and Stuart Graham (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The film screens tomorrow, Friday, 12th July at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
Speaking to Film Ireland about Galway, Paul Kennedy said, ‘We’re extremely excited to screen Made in Belfast at this year’s Fleadh – this will be the first public screening of the film outside it’s home city, so, for us, it will be a great opportunity to gauge audience reaction. The Fleadh also provides us, and many other Irish filmmakers, with an invaluable platform to showcase our work to industry professionals from all over the world. To be given the opportunity to do so on this island is extremely rare, and vital to filmmakers like myself’.
Made in Belfast tells the story of Jack Kelly (Ciarán McMenamin) a successful novelist returning home to Belfast from self-imposed exile in Paris. His first novel, Made in Belfast, was met with critical and commercial success, the only problem, it did so by exposing the private lives of his friends and family that he must now reencounter. In a tale of loyalty and identity, Jack now has one weekend to put right the wrongs he committed all those years ago.
Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777 or at www.tht.ie.
DIR: Kieron J. Walsh • WRI: Steve Brookes, Kieron J. Walsh • PRO: Brendan J. Byrne • DOP: David Rom • ED: Emer Reynolds • DES: David Craig • Cast: Nichola Burley, Martin McCann, Charlene McKenna, Ciarán McMenamin
It’s a real testament to how far Northern Ireland has come that a film like Jump has been made. It’s set exclusively in the North – Derry, to be exact – and there isn’t a single reference to the IRA, the UVF, the Troubles. Not only that, it doesn’t feel like there’s a pink elephant in the room. None of the characters are haunted by memories of that time, there are no former terrorists looking to go straight, no mention of it at all. With Jump, you merely accept the fact that Northern Ireland and its cinema has moved on from it.
The story takes place on New Year’s Eve and follows four ‘twenty-somethings’ and their individual problems and hang-ups. Marie (Charlene McKenna) and Dara (Valene Kane) play two young women, stuck in a rut working McJobs whilst yearning to escape the city and emigrate to Australia. Johnny, played by Good Vibrations’ Richard Dormer, is a washed-up former criminal who’s drinking himself into an early grave whilst racked with guilt. Pearse and Greta, Martin McCann and Nichola Burley respectively, play two young people with an apparent death-wish; although one is more overt than the other. Over the course of the film, these stories entangle and, naturally, come to a head. The story and character echo late 90’s comedy-crime thriller Go, but with an obvious Irish twist.
Kieron J. Walsh’s direction is confident, slick and assured and working with a tightly-written script, there’s little error to be found in the film. The break-neck pacing, interspersed with jump-cuts to each individual story, is great to see. Too often, Irish films are shackled with a slow-burn ethos and very little sense of fun or humour. Jump deftly breaks this cycle and makes something that is fun, relevant and enjoyable to watch. There are no morose-looking countrysides, no dead-eyed piece-to-camera monologues involving the death of the Irish way of life – here, it’s fast, fun and energetic; something Irish cinema desperately needs.
The cast, made up of TV actors, all fill out their performances with varying levels of quality but maintain a minimum standard. The chemistry between Marie and Dara is spot-on, mixing the vapid desires of partying and escape with a real sense of underlying sadness. Richard Dormer’s character is a little bit hammy in places, but the fault is more in the dialogue than his own performance. However, it’s a small complaint in an otherwise strong performance. Primeval‘s Ciaran McMenamin, playing Ross – the man charged with following Dormer’s character around to ensure he works – compliments Dormer’s performance. The one area where Jump falls down is the story between Pearse and Greta. In a sense, it is the catalyst for the whole story but it feels more like it was tacked on as an afterthought. Likewise, the performance from Nichola Burley is a little bit unconvincing in places. Still, overall the characters and actors portraying them have filled out their roles with real effort.
In all, Jump is an entertaining drama with strains of black comedy and thriller moments. It’s not exactly memorable, but like all good parties, when you’re in it, it’s the best fun you’ll have.
Bl!nder Films have announced that their first feature film One Hundred Mornings, funded by the Catalyst Project and directed by Conor Horgan, is to have its world premiere screening at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January 2010. It will be one of 10 feature films screened at the festival in the Narrative Feature Competition line-up out of over 5000 applicants. This is the first time an Irish film has been selected for the festival.
Starring Ciaran McMenamin, Alex Reid, Rory Keenan and Kelly Campbell, One Hundred Mornings is set in a world upended by a complete breakdown of society, where two couples hide out in a lakeside cabin hoping to survive the crisis. As resources run low and external threats increase, they forge an uneasy alliance with their self-sufficient hippie neighbour.
One Hundred Mornings is writer/director Conor Horgan’s first feature film, though he previously directed the award-winning short The Last Time, which screened at Cannes, Clermont-Ferrand, and Tampere and was the recipient of seven awards, including the UIP Director Award and Best Irish Short at The Cork Film Festival.