Richard Harris Film Festival: ‘What Richard Did’

whatricharddid

Eileesh Buckley reports from the screening of Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did at the recent Richard Harris Film Festival in Limerick.

 

The screening of What Richard Did at the Richard Harris International Film Festival (RHIFF) had an enthusiastic audience of filmmakers that included the Harris Family (Jared, Jamie and Ella).  The location of 69 O’Connell Street seemed apt for the screening of this film as it was here that many a Limerick actor has made their name and now Jack Reynor will follow in that vein. Surprisingly there were no speeches at this screening, which was a pity.

Many of those involved in the short film session returned for screening. This award-winning Irish feature film launched the acting career of Jack Reynor, and increased the profile of director Lenny Abrahamson.

As expected the similarities in the story to the infamous Annabels/David Murphy tragedy still echo as strongly as ever. While the film is based on a fiction novel, the premise is eerily similar.

Reynor is the titular Richard whose moment of madness changes his own life as well as his friend’s.

The entirety of the film is from the perspective of Richard and the audience knows only what he knows. At the start he is the dashing knight rescuing fair maiden from the unwanted attentions of a boy who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.By the end his soul has been tortured and his morals more than tarnished.

The supporting cast come in and out of focus as the film progresses, the original trio of friends reduces to a duo and eventually a solo.The girls seem to be fated to draw the worst behaviours from the boys over the longterm.The D4 stereotypes abound, from the rugby players to the beachside holiday home, and rampant alcohol consumption seems to be acceptable.

Since the release of this film a number of those involved have had an extensive list of high-profile projects. Abrahamson released the critically acclaimed Frank, starring Michael Fassbender this year, while Reynor has an eclectic list of projects ranging from Transformers to Macbeth.

Jared Harris later remarked on RTE’s Saturday Show how much he had enjoyed the film;  I’m sure Jack Reynor will be thrilled!

 

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Short Films at the Richard Harris International Film Festival

shortfilmposter

Eileesh Buckley gives her report of the Short Films Programme at the 2014 Richard Harris International Film Festival.

The Richard Harris International Film Festival (RHIFF) this year included a short film competition specifically for Irish filmmakers in conjunction with the Newport Beach Film Festival.  It was one of the most anticipated events at the festival.

Eleanor McSherry, Festival Creative Director, made a speech outlining the importance of this event to the festival board and the Harris family.  She stated how the relationship with the Newport Film Festival was unique for an Irish festival, and that it was one the festival board was eager to grow.

The top 10 entries selected by the international selection panel will go on to the Newport Beach Film Festival, where one will be chosen to screen at the prestigious festival in Orange County. The showing of the top 10 was followed by a further selection of six shorts by filmmakers from the Mid-West.

Despite varied budgets, the top 10 selection were all of a similar high standard in their editing and production, the budgetary differences seemed to most impact the number of crew, or experience level of casts.

Gun Down, by Martin Cassidy, Barry Fahy, Nigel O’Brien and Kevin McGuire, had the audience laughing heartily with the unexpected behaviour of both characters before the final sting in the tale.

Adam, from Caroline Farrell and Denise Pattison, was a complete change in tone, entirely serious and shockingly intense. The description of this short in the RHIFF programme was, ‘A little boy withdraws from the wonder and magic of his childhood as he witnesses the destruction of his family life.’

Third to be shown was a “Zomcom” (zombie romantic comedy) from James Skerrit and Peader Clancy, Night of the Lonely Dead. The audience immediately recognised the storm damaged landscape of Lahinch, Co. Clare as the setting for this post-apocalyptic zombie romance.

Cas Timpeall from Mike Guickan and Glen Gannon was the only short scripted in Irish, thoughtfully subtitled; it focused on a school teacher who is internally disconnected and has a life falling to ruins around him.

The final short in the top 10 was the beautifully filmed The Weather Report, which was a historical vignette from Paul Murphy and Deirdre De Grae. Set in 1944, a lighthouse keeper and his wife have their quiet routine unexpectedly interrupted by a phone call, their response to which had far reaching impact in a time before weather forecasting services.

Overall the tone and story lines of the chosen shorts were varied, ranging from the darkness of Adam, to the laughter of Gun Down, with history, horror and philosophy in between.

After a short break, the second half of the shorts screening featured six pieces by filmmakers from the Irish mid-west, in some cases there were visible issues in editing or structure which kept them from the top 10.

There was one very slick production set in the George Boutique Hotel which was head and shoulders above the others in this section. View From a Hotel Lobby, from Apate Films and Dave O’Reilly, was a slick production with nods to various Hollywood blockbusters, including Oceans 11.

Functioning, Not working, from Pa Cronin and Michael Casey, opened the mid-west selection with a comedic look at a faulty product getting to users despite warnings from its engineers.

Steve Spade and Paddy Murphy’s offering was Ensnared ,which was very much an art production from start to finish. From poetry voiceovers to changing colourscapes, this was a piece for art enthusiasts.

The second short from David Harris was Cross Purpose, which had a frantic opening to a story that would be a lesson to many. While the eventual reveal wasn’t surprising, it is still a valid lesson for viewers.

Harris’ first short was Bad Choices, where the law of unintended consequences was illustrated with karma coming home to roost for the irresponsible characters at fault. Somewhat of a similar theme featured in the filmmaker’s other selected short.

5 Things You Need to Know about Dying was set in 1983 where it focused on the impact of an assignment on the journalists involved. What seemed like a trivial assignment caused the journalists to reevaluate their lives.

For more information visit the Richard Harris International Film Festival website.

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