Kerry Film Festival – Lies we Tell


Eleanor McSherry checks out Lies we Tell at the Kerry Film Festival.

This screening was in the largest screen of the cinema, cinema one. There was a very large crowd, as expected for this one, so seating was at a premium.  The audience was very mixed, which was good to see.  The film was introduced by Maeve McGrath Kerry Film Festival’s hardworking Artistic Director, and Andy McDermott, the film’s producer and writer, they both expressed her joy at the film being screened.

Directed by Mitu Misra, Lies We Tell introduces us to Donald, a man in his 50s, who is a salt-of-the-earth-Yorkshire-man. When his billionaire boss, Demi, dies, Donald is tasked with destroying evidence of his ‘other women’. But Donald doesn’t account for the effect meeting Demi’s hauntingly beautiful 26-year-old mistress Amber will have on him.

Despite trying to keep Amber at arm’s length, Donald has to collude with her to delete a sexy video that would implicate his boss and mean certain death for Amber.

Donald embarks on a journey that leads him face-to-face with Amber’s notorious gangster cousin KD. He discovers Amber was forced to marry KD when they were sixteen, and after being raped by him she risked hell by lying to get an Islamic divorce, leaving both sides of the family devastated.

Now fully qualified as a lawyer, Amber is set to escape to London when the bombshell hits: KD is to marry her naive sixteen year-old sister, Miriam. But soon, we realise it’s part of KD’s twisted plan to win back the love of his life, Amber. The only woman he has ever wanted.

Nursing his own tragic past, Donald is compelled to help Amber, and is dragged deeper into a world of hypocrisy, betrayal and ultimately murder, leaving an honest man broken’.

I will admit from the beginning this is not a world that an Irish girl would know very well or have much access to; it is alien to us and the set up of the film was well executed so that we were led into this world one step at a time. While we have access to British television and the internet, we really don’t often see the diversity of British culture in this way.  Its level of social realism was excellent, though often to the point of being unbelievable. I don’t like reading too much of other people’s criticisms or views on a film as I usually don’t agree with them.  For me, what’s important is, is the story great, are the characters believable, is it shot well and do I feel something.  This film ticked all of those boxes.

The film is boasts a stellar cast with Harvey Keitel, Gabriel Byrne and Sibylla Deen, with Mark Addy and Jan Uddin.  Sibylla was wonderful as the main character, Amber, who is a very western girl with a traditional Pakistani background. She was so believable as a successful trainee lawyer who was trying to go places but caught by her traditional background. This is such a contemporary dilemma. There was plenty more revelations to the character’s story but I will not ruin the film for you. In one way you could say that we should not be shocked by what happens to her but in another we should be, as this still goes on in this day and age.

Gabriel Byrne, for me, is such a fantastic actor that we should see more of on our big and small screens.  His portrayal of Donald, Demi’s (Harvey) professional driver and reluctant friend, was amazing. Maybe it’s because I’m Irish but I really could feel everything that Donald was going through and sympathised with his dilemma.  The other characters were also good but it was the relationship between Amber and Donald that really drove this film home.

Mark Addy, who played Donald’s brother-in-law Billy, he deserves a special mention as we just did not see enough of him and he really was wonderful every time he appeared on screen. He really made the best of such a small part. I loved his character and would have liked to have seen more of him but that’s just me!

The production values were excellent, considering the amount of paperwork and cost involved in so much location shooting.  Cinematographer Santosh Sivan did well to capture the wonders of the city, and its seedier sides in contrast with the rural location for Donald’s home. With a first time feature director, Mitu Misra, there would be a fear that there will have been massive over-budget runs, difficulties and clashes of personalities on set but this did not seem to have been the case here. It also must have been difficult to face the issues like, arranged marriages, abstinence from alcohol, yet indulgence in narcotics in the playgrounds of the young, in the film having grown up around this community.

Bradford and Leeds are the setting to the film which was a refreshing choice of location, going to one of the heartlands of the Pakistani community in the UK.  There should be more filming in this part of the UK and it was good to see the diversity and choice of rural and urban locations available there. This is something that should be noted also here in Ireland.

The storyline was hard-hitting and did not shy away from topics that they knew might seriously offend.  It was excellent to see that they did not take the easier route and tie everything up in a nice bow, which is harder to do nowadays. Having spoken to Andy, at the festival, I know that an awful lot of work had gone into the story to make it as real and authentic as possible and it really shows.  If they had gotten government financial support would they have been able to tackle these issues, I think not.

It is one of those kinds of films that has to be seen to be believed, my review is only one opinion.  I would highly recommend it though that you go along, with an open mind and a willingness to see what it’s really telling you about this world. Gabriel Byrne had a very telling remark about this project, he said “the subject matter is most original and unique, the culture clash between the Asian and the Western perspective of the world.” For him, “that’s very relevant and pertinent in today’s world.”  We also have to support more independent films or else we will lose them.  Their biggest strength is story and real character development that is, at times, lacking from the more expensive movies. They also tackle hard-hitting issues which few blockbusters do now.  So get out there and see this film and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Lies we Tell screened on Saturday the 21st of October, 2017 at 7.15pm in Cinema Killarney  as part of the Kerry Film Festival  


Further information:






Kerry Film Festival – T.A.L.K: What is your Film Festival Action Plan?


Eleanor McSherry was at T.A.L.K , a set of industry sessions that include panel discussions at the Kerry Film Festival.

The second discussion was What is your Film Festival Action Plan?, hosted by Maeve McGrath, in discussion with Katie McCullough from Festival Formula, who guided us through the vast film festival landscape and offered advice and tips on building a festival profile and action plan.


Maeve: I would like to introduce Katie McCullough from Festival Formula. What is it that you do?

Katie: We help filmmakers to navigate the festival circuit. All films, all genres, as long as it’s good. In 2014 we launched our business. We saw a gap in the market. It’s an area that filmmakers don’t really have the knowledge of once they make their film, how to navigate the festival market.

Maeve: You have nine shorts and a feature in Kerry Film Festival. Your films were of a high standard. How do you select the films?

Katie: You send us your link and we watch them. If we like your film, if it is of a high quality and we think we can market it then we take it on. We make sure we get the right festival for you. We do the research so you don’t have to. We make sure that your film is strong enough, quality-wise, for the film festival market. Also, if the story is strong it will do well. In some ways if the story is strong it can trump the quality of the production. We approach each project individually, assess its structure, in some cases look at if before it’s finished, help with it if we can then set our budget (what you can afford). We can give feedback on edits and advise to help make your film more marketable.

My background helps, as we are writers, to help be that brutal voice, edit it or trim it, as some filmmakers can get too precious and their films can be too long for the market. We can also manage expectations, it’s not our business to not be honest with you. Some films that have done the rounds but have failed to screen anywhere might need a helping hand and not see what is really going on. We can help with that.

It can be obvious to us what is wrong with the film. That’s our job. For example it might be a narrative issue, a camera issue and, once fixed, we can help telling you which festival will suit your film.

Maeve: Are getting your film to festival’s expensive?

Katie: Festivals can be very expensive. Include money for it in your initial budget and deliverables, as few do. There are some amazing festivals and we can help you gain access to them. €600 will get you into an amount of festivals, it’s a good budget.

Have good assets, that can be a great selling point, like: a female director, a person in your cast or crew that has a disability or good life story or a film that is for the specialist market like horror or genre circuit.  The higher the quality of the film, the better festival we can get you into. There is a lot of admin when going to send your film to a festival and this is where we step in and help you focus.

Maeve: You have built a relationship with the Northern Film School.

Katie: Yes, we have been lucky with this relationship. We get to pick and choose the best films from over 40 films from the school. We are very selective and they also tend to have a small budget. We create a strategy for them and have relationships with many festivals, this all helps to sell the film. It’s not about who you know in film festivals but about the strength of the films you provide and the we can only do that with a good budget. It’s not a closed door industry.

Maeve: What are the pitfalls to submitting?

Katie: Duration is a big one. While there is no magic running order.  Short films run from 10 mins to 40 mins. Programming will deal with long films but shorter films are easier to place and have a larger scope.

Every film festival has its own rules and regulations. US festivals prefer to get a film with premiere status. Shorter films are the best for them. Shorter films get programmed quicker and get screened the most. 30-minute films, unless out of this world, are harder to place, harder to programme. There aren’t many festivals to pitch to for them.

Short shorts work very well and the better the short the longer the run.  You also don’t have to have credits at the beginning and at the end. That can add minutes to your film or slow long credits, there is no need. Short, concise credits are best. The killer is Kickstarter funding credit lists, they can go on and on, find a way of giving credit without have a very long list.

Maeve: Do you watch every film you get in from beginning to end?

Katie: We watch all the films from beginning to end. We feel we have to.

Maeve: From our point of view at Kerry and what we are looking for from a filmmakers is: to send us in images, your trailer, synopsis and a cover letter.  We need to have all that material for the festival. Contact details are vitally important and you’d be surprised how many people leave them out of their letter or on the title page of their script. Passwords need to be simple and not big long complicated ones that no one will remember.  Do not annoy the festival director – you want them to screen your film. Also, read the terms and conditions carefully, make sure this is the festival for you.

What do you do to make the filmmaker’s job easier?

Katie: Essentially we offer two packages: 1) look after submitting for you, of your film.   currently have 68 films on our slate. All films have their own style and different turn around. Read them and make sure it is done.  Do you need BluRay for instance?  That takes time and money.  Make sure you send a back up.  2) Film festival strategies – what festivals are the best for your money and film. You need to also have all your paper work done for us, it makes it easier and we don’t have to chase you for them. Things like stills, posters, synopsis, crew list and cast bios, etc.

Maeve: what makes a good film? What ticks all the boxes?

Katie: Obviously a good story, narrative, make it exciting to watch and remember. But not necessarily only drama films. Compelling and interesting, and any genre you want can work just as well.  Sound is also very important, if it’s bad it won’t get picked no matter how good the rest of the film is. Oh, and also don’t have your credits too long, short credits are best.

Maeve: Thank you Katie for your time, we could have talked all day.


T.A.L.K: What is your Film Festival Action Plan? took place on Saturday 21st from 3pm-3.30pm in the Killarney Plaza Hotel  as part of the Kerry Film Festival          

Kerry Film Festival – T.A.L.K Creative Kerry Abroad

Further information on the speakers:


Katie McCullough is the founder of Festival Formula Ltd, a consultancy company focusing on filmmakers covering festival strategy. We create personalised festival strategies taking into account length, production values, genre, stories in front and behind the camera, and budget limitations.

With over 13 years plus experience she’s hosted workshops and seminars for a broad range of audiences including: Encounters Film Festival, Shooting People, East End Film Festival, Independent Cinema Office, Cork Film Festival, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, BFI Flare, Glasgow Short Film Festival, LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, FilmFest Dresden, and many training events at the BFI Southbank.

The company was recently a co-sponsor of Screen International events at Berlinale and Cannes 2017.

Further information:





Kerry Film Festival – T.A.L.K Creative Kerry Abroad


Eleanor McSherry was at the Creative Kerry Abroad session of T.A.L.K, a set of sessions including panel discussions, in conversation and Q&A sessions.

The first of the T.A.L.K sessions was Creative Kerry Abroad, hosted by Alex Fegan (The Irish Pub), in discussion with Kerry natives Maura Kelly (Emmy-winning Producer/Purple Mountain Media) and New York producer John Flahive (Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect) London, about working abroad in film and media.


Alex: Maura what led you to New York?

Maura: Well I was born in Killarney and due to financial hardship my family emigrated to America.  It was out of economic necessity that my parents took their four children to the US. New York offered opportunities that Ireland just didn’t have any more.  In our neighbourhood there was not many Irish, so we had to develop a real survivor mentality. Also, how to embrace change which all happened at an early age. It helped me get to where I am today.

John: I went to London. I had attended UL to become an accountant but I was interested in film and joined the Film Society. At that time, there was no real film industry in Ireland and certainly not down in Limerick. The Film Board had just shut down and so I moved to London. I joined the BFI as an accountant, got involved in Film Sales and then became an Independent filmmaker.

Alex: Maura, what got you into media and entertainment?

Maura: I went to Manhattan with my friend and got jobs. We worked very hard. We hadn’t a clue what we were doing. I reached out to people, as I am a people person and made great contacts. I went back for my masters in New York University, working in a restaurant to fund it. And then worked as a personal assistant and worked my way up.  I was lucky as the United Nations was nearby and they had great contacts in the media industry.  I met those people in the restaurant, including an Indian media consultant in the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and helped him. It sparked a big interest for me in the media. I ended next on Wall Street and got some intense training there working with traders. Then I spent 15 years at PBS where I honed my skills and learned from the best filmmakers, like Ken Burns.  I watched them all and realised that you needed to get the right people involved, then get out there and just make things happen.

John: Maura, as a person from Killarney and John, as someone from Annascaul, how do you help people from Kerry?

John: You need the right person, the right project then you can take it forward and help the person.  You help them to pair up with the right people and make further connections.

Alex: So being from Kerry helps you, do you think?  Do the Irish Diaspora help?

John: Having that local knowledge, that same connection definitely does.  Having a project that can sell on an international level helps and being able to share, my knowledge, with people from Kerry is a big advantage to them. For example, a project like Pilgrim Hill, while a very Irish local story, was an easy sell as there was a market that understood it. This can help people from Kerry and helps me to be able to support the idea.

Maura: The Irish Diaspora help others to understand both places, Ireland and abroad, they bridge the gap. I’m always glad to help others abroad and am interested in them. The New York Women in Film and Television is an example of a group that help others. It is a group I am heavily involved in and is a very strong movement in the media industry. It is a very large organisation and as its director of programming I have worked to encourage co-productions with Ireland. As a TV executive, I recognise there is great television talent in Ireland and Ireland is great for TV. Animations, for example, are a huge growing industry in Ireland and companies like CBS are always looking for more animations from here.  They are always looking for reels from Ireland. I have also organised events and been to events with Irish filmmakers. I am very tapped into what is going on there and also here and   I share this information with the people I work with in New York.  For example, I introduced the guys from Vikings to New York filmmakers and pushed how fantastic Ireland was as a location to film in.

Alex: There are currently two ways projects get to an Irish-American audience, like the 1916 stories and through Irish stories abroad. Is there a possibility that we could find another way, like an online network to reach out specifically to the Irish Diaspora audience, specifically with film?

Maura: I think in LA and New York on the ground there would be no way to centralise a network like that. The buyers and producers really come over to Ireland and find their own content. It’s a tough industry and more and more connections are being made at film festivals. The government also has trade missions that do this kind of work.  So I’m not sure if we need another network on top of that.  The films that are currently being made and showcased abroad really help to sell Ireland as a location for production and have gotten people partners in America. Also, people have worked with Irish Central and groups like that to help get their work out there. Each side gets something out of it.

John: There are resources already online and projects are there looking for money. There are many vehicles that they can use already available. As Maura said there are trade missions, culture Ireland doing great work but people who have good projects need to get out there and meet face to face to do the job effectively.

Alex: so its all about the project and does it necessarily have to be Irish?

John: You want to help people but it’s depends on the project.  You see so much stuff at festivals that are good but will they travel, can they be universal.  The Irish Diaspora is great but do you want your film to be exclusive to them only.  It can limit their appeal.

Alex: How do you think things have changed in Ireland?

John: Now we have a film industry in Ireland. In the past we had made about ten features in ten years now we are making that in one year and it is fantastic. We now have experience skilled filmmakers and a great infrastructure with good investment but there needs to be more to sustain it. TV needs to be sorted to be like other countries and there needs to be better support for independent filmmakers here.

Alex: Maura do you agree?

Maura: Yes, we produce some television films but not enough for the market like other countries do.  I still believe festivals are the way to go but someday television will also catch up.

Alex: Is it easier to get into the UK market with a higher percentage of Irish-oriented content then getting into the US?

John: Oh yes, it is harder to reach a specifically Irish audience in the US, where there are bigger cultural differences there. However you have a better history of Irish philanthropy from the Irish American Diaspora than from the UK.  The UK has a better track record on public funding.  The Diaspora there are not as well off and are more reluctant to support their own. The Irish Diaspora is more London-centric and with its proximity to Ireland there is no need to create new Irish content about the Irish when they can import it.

Alex: How can we improve that though?

John: There needs to be more money in Ireland invested into helping get our work out of Ireland. Groups like Culture Ireland can’t do enough. There needs to be more work done on the ground to encourage people here to connect with our people abroad more.

Alex: What advice would you give to young filmmakers?

Maura: Develop relationships in pre-production to build your audience. Don’t watch until your film is finished and then get distribution partners.  It’s too late.  Contact university libraries, Irish Centres, etc. Get productions with them going and build those relationships.  Build your audience through these key contacts. Get them to screen your film abroad. Then they will, next time come to you. Do Q&As, do interviews and build your success.  They will want your film because of you.

John: Do your research. Look at what everyone else is doing and learn from other’s experiences.  What they have done right and what they have done wrong. For example, there are niche markets – find them and exploit them.  They will probably have their own platforms and you can find great information at festivals. Always make sure you speak to the right person, do your research.

Alex: Finally, what can Kerry do to improve to get big films here?

Maura: I’m not involved in film but I will do whatever I i can to help.  Star Wars has helped immensely to highlight the landscape and this kind of exposure cannot be underestimated. There has been a lot of press internationally about it and how wonderful Ireland was to film in.  Anyone who films in Kerry needs to be doing press about it and shout loudly about it to the world.

John: Pilgrim Hill is another example but that was the filmmakers themselves creating the hype about how great it was to film here.  There needs to be serious investment in the independent film scene, courses and local filmmakers encouraged to work here.  They need to be supported all year round not just once in blue moon.


T.A.L.K Creative Kerry Abroad took place on Saturday 21st at 2pm-3pm in the Killarney Plaza Hotel as part of the Kerry Film Festival

Further information on the speakers:

John Flahive: John Flahive emigrated to London in 1987 after studying business at the University of Limerick. After some years working in accountancy and then for the British Film Institute, he now runs Wavelength Pictures, his own film distribution and production company.

John is the producer of documentary Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect

Maura Kelly:

Maura Kelly is an Emmy-winning producer, development executive and principal of Purple Mountain Media, a consultancy practice in NY.

A Killarney native, her career spans leadership positions in broadcast television at PBS/ WNET (Executive Producer) where she built media franchises and helped raise over $15mm for programming – to working with global companies: The Jim Henson Co, Tile Films, Tribeca Film Institute & PBS Kids.

Maura was elected to the Board of Directors of NY Women in Film (2013-2016) and is a member of the Writers Guild of America and a contributor to the HuffPost.



Review of Irish Film @ Kerry Film Festival: Irish Stories – Shorts Programme


Eleanor McSherry finds strong stories being told at the Irish Stories – Shorts Programme at the Kerry Film Festival.

I attended the first screening of the morning, which was a very hairy experience to be honest as I had to battle my way down through storm Brian to get there. This is the lengths this reporter will go to for film! There was a good crowd considering the weather at this screening and I, for one, was delighted that the cinema was well insulated as it was raining buckets outside. Maeve McGrath, Kerry Film Festival’s Artistic Director introduced the screening and acknowledged our bravery for coming out in a storm. The selection was good but some of the films had minor issues with sound and lighting, which let them down a bit, however, the stories were strong. Again, what might look fine and you might get away with on the small screen looks awful or sounds awful on the big screen.

There were nine short films selected for this screening, covering a very diverse set of themes from dealing with an alcoholic parent, time travel, lost love, love, extreme stress/depression, fairytales, heroic historical women and father/son relationships. There were four films in particular that impressed:


Gone (Patrick Maxwell)

The story of Paul, who returns to his hometown to find that his ex-lover has a child with another man. As old sparks reignite, jealousy and revenge lead to fatal consequences.

This was a well executed film with a sad, challenging storyline, told with great care and attention to detail. It had an excellent cast with some lovely performances from Ryan Andrews and Niamh Algar. It’ll be interesting to see when Maxwell’s obvious talent will be stretched to a feature and how he deals with it. Maybe slightly too long at 16 minutes.

Stacey Lee (Jennifer Meade)

Stacey loves books, Spencer loves his dog, neither need each other until they do.

A lovely bonkers short, short movie, beautifully shot except for the lighting, which was slightly off and a bit ropey. But the story was wonderfully told in a Wes Anderson style. Not a bad piece at all, I loved it!

Narcan (Peter McNamara)

Narcan tells the story of Sean Ryan an Irish paramedic working the unsympathetic streets of New York City, every day he struggles to manage a fractured personal life, with his only son refusing to speak to him and the void between himself and his wife Sinead growing bigger with every passing day. The death and darkness of the job begins to creep inside Sean’s head clouding his judgement. It is during the course of one particular twelve hour shift that decisions with irrevocable consequences are made; Sean must call upon every ounce of his stringent resolve to try discover balance.

Nice performances from Malachy McCourt, the fantastic young Limerick talent Harris McNamara and the brilliant Peter Halpin. This film is at the end of its festival run and has had many deserved accolades thrown at it. I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to have seen it. Well done to Peter McNamara for having tackled a very difficult shoot. This one is well worth seeing!


Tell them our Names (Mary Moynihan)

The performance and film are creative re-imaginings of moments from the lives of women during WWII recalling stories of bravery, sacrifice and love amidst the horror of war, as the women stood up against Fascism and totalitarianism and refused to accept oppression.

This is a short film produced by Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company as a small part of a much bigger project telling the stories of women from WWII, which includes a theatre production and a digital book. For me, the beginning was a little bit confusing, I wasn’t sure what was going on but once it got clearer it became obvious how powerful this film was. The lighting was, at times a bit off and the sound a bit too loud but this did not matter, the story was extremely strong, empowering and yet tragic.

It offered valuable thought-provoking insight into the lives of important European women, Marta Hillers (Germany), Mary Elmes (Ireland), Maria Eugenia Jasinska (Poland), Neus Catala Palleja (Spain) and Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria (Spain). The sad thing is most people have never heard their names before, until now. A wonderful film with a very important story to tell.

Further information


Irish Stories – SHORTS PROGRAMME screened on Thursday, 19th of October, 2017 at Cinema Killarney as part of the Kerry Film Festival (19 – 22 October 2017)

Full Programme:

1. For You (IRL)

A young girl struggles with her alcoholic mother and environment, until she finds strength to love.

2. Rememberer (IRL)

The world has ended. There is nowhere to go. Except back.

3. The Long Line (IRL)

Set in Ireland amid an immigration crisis, will Liam’s troubles push him to the edge?

4. Gone (IRL)

On seeing his ex-lover again, Paul stirs up events that spiral out of his control.

5. Stacey Lee (IRL)

Stacey loves books, Spencer loves his dog, neither need each other until they do.

6. Narcan (IRL/USA)

An Irish paramedic in New York, struggles every day to manage a fractured home life as well as death and depravity on the streets.

7. The Final Fairytale (IRL)

A woman looks back at a fading memory of her father and of fairytales.

8. Tell Them Our Names (IRL)

Creative reimagining of moments from the lives of five powerful women during WWII.

9. Man To Man (IRL)

A touching story of friendship, between father and son, catching up over a quiet pint.






Review of Irish Film @ Kerry Film Festival: The Crest


Eleanor McSherry was at the Kerry Film Festival for opening night film, The Crest, a story of family, immigration and the value of tradition and culture. which follows two descendants of an Irish King who meet for the first time in Ireland. 

This screening was in the largest screen of the cinema, cinema one. There was a very large crowd, as expected for this one, so seating was at a premium for the opening Night film.  The film was introduced by Maeve McGrath, Kerry Film Festival’s hardworking Artistic Director, who expressed her joy at the film, which was partly shot in Kerry, being screened at the festival. She also welcomed the team behind the film who were in the audience.

Butter Flavored Films produced this narrative surf documentary, which, according to its synopsis features “two cousins who grow up on opposite sides of America, both surfers and both unaware of the other’s existence, discover they are both descendants of An Ri, the last King of the Blasket Islands, a collection of rocky islands off the western-most point of Ireland, surrounded by treacherous ocean and once home to a community of people whose culture was untouched by outside influence. The cousins meet for the first time in Ireland on a quest to explore their shared heritage, learn what has been passed down to them from those who came before, and to surf the waters of their ancestors”.

Mark Covino directed the film, whuch has garnered a string of awards and acclaim on the film festival circuit, having co-directed A Band Called Death, which won an audience award at SXSW (among others) and was well reviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Rolling Stone, and The Huffington Post.

Surfing has become one of the biggest growing sports in Ireland today.  You cannot pass a beach on the West coast without spotting the hundreds of wet-suited teens bobbing in water. It attracts thousands of tourists every year from all over the globe.  This is what makes the opening film of the Kerry Film Festival so special.  Its story is so timely in its content to the Ireland of today and yet it tells a story that will resonate in every corner of this island, the story of emigrants coming home.

This family’s story is wonderfully told with the use of voice-over, interviews, historical pieces, extracts from the great Blasket writers and at its heart, a personal family reunion. At times you kind of feel that you are imposing on this family’s story, that we should not be feeling what they are feeling rediscovering their heritage, connecting back with the island, its people, their people. This is nothing new to Ireland, we have many stories like this, but what is unique and different about this story is Dennis and Andrew’s shared love of surfing.

Dennis Kane and Andrew Jacob both have a love for the sea, surfing, family and a land neither of them has ever seen.  This yearning to learn more about who they are centres on their shared family history and stories of their ancestor who was the King of the Blaskets and his son, who was a fiddler. The story begins with their discovery of each other and moves onto The Gathering, an Irish Government Initiative in 2013,  where an opportunity is presented to travel back and reunite with other members of the extended family in Kerry and to visit the Blasket Islands, off the coast of Ireland.

They learn a lot about their ancestors on the way, as do the audience, their life on the Islands and what forced them to leave.  The guys also get many opportunities to surf and there is some fantastic footage of the Kerry coastline which is awe-inspiring. This documentary is a real education but told in a heart-warming personal way. It’s hard not to reveal the whole story to show how moving and wonderful this documentary is… you will just have to go and see it for yourself to get the real emotion behind the film.

The production values were relatively good. I admire this crew as I’d say it was a difficult shoot, due to some very dodgy terrain, bad roads and the weather, which would have played a huge factor here. They used a mix of cameras and style of shots. For example, chasing a bunch of surfers across fields on the Blaskets and filming from boats was shot in a rough guerrilla, old-school documentary style. Interviews, which were authoritative and well-researched, were shot in the classic interview mode with the subject static and centred.  The rest was more observational in style with iconic wide and aerial shots from, I’m presuming, a drone, which produced some beautiful establishing shots. There was also some go-pro style shots from the surf boards, for that close-up feel. Though, at times the shots were a little rough, shaky and on the odd occasion out of focus, also lighting was ever so slightly off in some of the interviews but if you weren’t looking for it, to be honest, you wouldn’t have noticed. The views of the Kerry coastline were amazing and the surf shots were inspired. They have done a fantastic job and should be really proud.

It was a perfect start to the festival; a surfing emigrant documentary shot in Kerry and in a small part America, screening at the Kerry Film Festival, a no-brainer really.  It is a very relatable movie and should be a must for any Irish person, home and abroad.  What is surprising is why aren’t we seeing more films like this one. We should be documenting the Ireland of today for the next generations. What we also have to ask ourselves is why these guys had to crowd fund?  Why did they not get better financial support from our government or any Irish government agency?  It’s great falling over ourselves for Star Wars but it’s the hundreds of independent films like this, that cost so much less and have such little private support, that need our help too.  This film is going to do a lot for our tourist industry.


The Crest screened on Thursday, 19th of October, 2017 at Cinema Killarney as part of the Kerry Film Festival (19 – 22 October 2017)



Further information:






Kerry Film Festival – Score

Eleanor McSherry takes note of Score at the Kerry Film Festival, in which Hollywood’s top composers take viewers inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most beloved and mysterious music genre.


St. Mary’s Church, tucked in up the road, on the corner near the Killarney Cinema, provided a very appropriate place to host the screening of the Irish premiere of the documentary Score, written and directed by Matt Schrader, who “brings Hollywood’s premier composers together to give viewers a privileged look inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most widely known music genre: the film score.”

St. Mary’s church has a beautiful gothic interior and features added to a cool peaceful ambience, which made it the perfect location to screen this particular film. There was a very large crowd in attendance and seating was at a premium. What was particularly heartening was that the audience was predominantly young people.  What was even more fantastic about the amount of people at the screening was that we were expecting storm Brian in the early hours of the next day and were already feeling its effects with lashing rain and strong winds.

The documentary was introduced by Maeve McGrath, Kerry Film Festival’s hardworking Artistic Director, who expressed her joy at getting the film and to being able to show it in such a great location.  She hoped we enjoyed it and off she went.

We have all left a film with some sort of emotion, be it happy, sad or mad. We have also all come out humming the theme tune of our favourite films, like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, to name the most iconic.  But how does the composer make that happen? How are the decisions made about what music goes where and who makes those decisions?  This documentary gives a small insight into that process?

Score is a very enjoyable and educational film. It is a must for anyone who wants to understand the importance of music and the music score to filmmaking.  It features the whose who of music film composers, like: Hans Zimmer, Quincy Jones, Trent Reznor, James Cameron, Randy Newman, Tom Holkenborg/junkie Xl, Howard Shore, Mark Mothersbaugh, Rachel Portman, Steve Jablonsky, Brian Tyler, Bear Mccreary, John Debney, John Powell, Mychael Danna and Garry Marshall, to name but a few.  The one thing I did note, however, is that there were very few female composers and I’m not sure why.  Maybe this is something that should be explored. For more names of composers and their profiles check here.

This documentary contains a mix of film music, interviews with prominent film music composers intertwined with the historical journey/evolution of the film music score. It was fascinating to watch and thought-provoking, as a filmmaker. It gave insight into the great lengths that the composer will go to, to get that perfect sound, to evoke the right emotion from the audience, from isolation chambers to going out to the middle of the desert to listen to the wind. As an audience we don’t realise how vitally important it is but that is as it should be. The audience should not be aware that they are being manipulated.  The music should wash over you without a thought about it.  As filmmakers, however, we should be more aware of its significance to our films and give it due respect.

The documentary highlighted the strength and importance of the collaboration between the director and the composer.  It is vital that this happens in order to get what’s in the directors mind onto the screen. He or she might not have the technical knowledge of music to articulate exactly what they want but a good composer will interpret the director’s needs and produce something, at the very least, close to what they want.

The music supports the scene, compliments the action and evokes emotion. Hans Zimmer stated, in the documentary, that the audience will ‘get drawn into the film through the music’.  The composer watches the film with the director while taking notes, watches it on their own then produces the music, then watches it again with the director.  It is a highly skilled, time-consuming and complicated process but when it works, we the audience, don’t even see it, but we do feel it.

This film is a must for any filmmaker or anyone who is thinking of becoming a film music composer. It was not only compelling but highly entertaining.  You could not hear a pin drop while the film was on and this is no mean feat in a room full, of predominantly, teenagers. I felt buzzed when I came out from it and had a new respect for the art. The audience were also very impressed and I overheard many conversations about it after the screening, which is impressive. Well done to Maeve McGrath and her team for getting this one.

Score screened on Friday, 20th October 2017 at Cinema Killarney as part of the Kerry Film Festival (19 – 22 October 2017)

Further details:



Film trailer:


Tales from Kerry Film Festival 2017


Eleanor McSherry was at the Kerry Film Festival and sent us on a flavour of what went on this year.


Review of Irish Film @ Kerry Film Festival: The Crest

Kerry Film Festival – Orchestrate – Short Programme

Kerry Film Festival: Student Tales – Shorts Programme

Kerry Film Festival – Score

Review of Irish Film @ Kerry Film Festival: Irish Stories – Shorts Programme

Kerry Film Festival – T.A.L.K Creative Kerry Abroad

Kerry Film Festival – T.A.L.K: What is your Film Festival Action Plan?

More to come…


Kerry Film Festival: Student Tales – Shorts Programme

Eleanor McSherry goes back to college for the Student Tales – Shorts Programme at the Kerry Film Festival.  


Student Tales are selected from the short films that were sent in by students. There was a very international flavour to this screening and it was well attended. It was screened in the smaller of the two cinemas on offer.  Student films are always a mixed bag and you are never certain what you are going to get. There seems to be a need though to mention, if any students are reading this, that there needs to be more effort put into sound and lighting in many of the short films. It mightn’t show up on the smaller screen but at a festival on the big screen with surround sound believe me your flaws are blatantly obvious.  I have watched so many films over the years and this is something that never changes. If you want to make your mark, these areas need serious attention. I’m delighted to say that at this particular screening most of the films did not have these problems.

There were eight short films selected for this screening, covering a very diverse set of themes from Sci-Fi, dysfunctional family relationships, first impressions, aging, family movies and growing up.

Three of the films deserve special mention: Impression (UK), Sophie (Irl) and Three Red Sweaters (USA).

Impression – Directed By Joseph Simmons

Impression is a comedy/heist film that centres around the character of Reza, a Middle-Eastern entrepreneu trying to get a large-scale business off the ground without financial support. He works at a car wash to make ends meet, but has plans for a different life. For Reza to be successful he must con high-class executives into thinking he is a legitimate businessman. Reza looks to have the expensive car, the sharp suit and the backing of a professional company, but in fact has none of those things. Instead, Reza must convince potential investors to believe in his idea, through a smokescreen of favours and bribes, in order to become who he pretends to be.

At first, I wasn’t really sure what to make of this film. The set-up was a bit confusing and I didn’t know where the story was going. I soon realised, however, what was really going on, the main character was a man leading a double life, a man working in a car wash, who looked like a bum and also trying to be an international business man, while faking the trappings of wealth to get this goal. It was a great way to illustrate the dilemma facing many immigrants into Europe who have to take menial jobs but yet are extremely qualified people. It is a very cleverly put together film.

For more details at impressionshortfilm/

Trailer here

Sophie – Directed by Philip Ledingham (IADT, Dun Laoghaire)  

Sophie is a short science fiction film, focusing on Archer, a time-travel dealer, who is plagued by a traumatic event of his past.

This compelling film takes the viewer on a fantastic journey with lead actor Graham Molloy in terrific form with a stellar performance. Sophie is a fascinating film, boasting a concept that should be further developed into a feature story.

More details at sophiefilm2017

Three Red Sweaters – Directed and Edited by Martha Gregory

A filmmaker explores memory and the way that we use technology to record our lives — sometimes at the expense of being present for them — through her grandfather’s Colville-esque 16mm home videos.

This was a lovely nostalgic documentary that documents not only a wonderful family relationship but also the art of home movies. It uses the home movies and stills with a voice-over of interviews carried out with the grandfather of the director. You could tell the love and care that went into the film by the carefully chosen pieces that wove together with the audio of the interviews to tell the story of an avid amateur cinematographer and photographer. It is not surprising that it has previously won Best Documentary at the 2017 Aspen Shortsfest and I’m sure it will not be the last award it receives.


Further details at


Student Tales Short Films took place on Friday, 20th October 2017 at Cinema Killarney as part of the Kerry Film Festival (19 – 22 October 2017)


Full Programme: 


1. More Than This (IRL)

An unexpected discovery. A series of revelations. One worker questions his fate.

2. Las Cenizas [The Ashes] (US/CUBA)

In the wake of a domestic tragedy, a turbulent pair of siblings travel to Cuba.

3. Impression (UK)

A man tries to get his business launched whilst working at a carwash to survive.

4. La Douleur Exquise (IRL)

On the brink of his 50th birthday Michael begins to reflect upon his past decisions.

5. Sophie (IRL)

A time machine operator is plagued by an event in his past, for which he feels responsible, but believes he can reverse.

6. Three Red Sweaters (USA)

A filmmaker explores memory and the way that we use technology to record our lives, through her grandfather’s 16mm home videos.

7. Faith (RUSSIA)

An old widower, a former radio operator, perceives the flashing bulb as his late wife’s messages.

8. Too Old To Grow Up (IRL)

A portrayal of three women as revealed through their enduring bond with their childhood teddy bears.