Behind The Scenes Filmmakers Networking Evening at the Richard Harris International Film Festival

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Jane O’Faherty reports from the Behind The Scenes Filmmakers Networking Evening, which took place in Limerick as part of the 2014 Richard Harris International Film Festival.

Since its inception just two years ago, the Richard Harris International Film Festival has made no secret of its support for emerging Irish filmmakers.

Halfway through the weekend-long event, the festival reaffirmed its commitment to young Irish talent with a networking evening on Saturday night. The festival joined forces with Behind The Scenes, a group of film professionals in the Mid-West, to host the event in the striking Shannon Rowing Club. Attended by directors, producers, writers and other film creatives, the night was an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded people and test new ideas. It was also a chance to catch a glimpse of the burgeoning filmmaking scene in the Mid-West.

 

Behind The Scenes has been active in Limerick since January 2011, and works to bring people together to learn about film, television and video production. The group has also been working with Limerick City of Culture 2014 on a number of exciting projects this year. The event was also attended by Richard Harris’ son Jamie, who said he and his family were delighted with the festival and particularly struck by the friendliness of people in Limerick. Jamie also encouraged those present to make the most of the opportunity to meet others in the filmmaking industry.

 

Philip Shanahan, a Limerick-based filmmaker, said that the regional filmmaking community has continued to expand greatly in the past few years. “It’s like wildfire. There are loads of people who are after jumping into the community who are really talented,” he said.

Philip also cited the impact of Limerick’s status as National City of Culture on filmmakers. “It got us all thinking: ‘Well, this is our chance to put Limerick on the map,’” he said. “More importantly, to put Limerick filmmakers and the Limerick community on the map as well.”

The evening was not solely limited to film professionals from the Mid-West, however. Caroline Farrell, a scriptwriter based in Dublin, attended after her short film Adam was selected for the festival’s competition. Caroline said the fact that people collaborate well in Ireland helped the country’s filmmaking community stand out. “We help each other out, which is really important – particularly when you’re making your first film,” she said. “You know you need to get good people around you.”

Adam was nominated for Best Drama Award at the Dare Media Underground Film Festival in Cork this year, and was selected to screen at the Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dublin in September.

“I hope that people connect with [Adam] in some way, that there’s a little bit of empathy for it because I think that’s what short film is about,” Caroline said. “You only get that little window of five or ten minutes to connect with people, and if you’ve done that, you’ve done your job well.”

 

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Report from the Richard Harris International Film Festival

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Jane O’Faherty reports from the Richard Harris International Film Festival Gala, which took place on Friday, 24th October in Limerick.

 

A red carpet rolled out the entrance of 69 O’Connell Street in Limerick. Inside the venue, luminaries of international cinema came and talked together with talented artistic figures from the city. Indeed, the Gala event for the Richard Harris International Film Festival began with the palpable excitement of any major opening night.

Guests on the night included members of the Harris family, who had come especially to attend festival events. Richard’s son Jared Harris was to officially open the festival, accompanied by his wife Allegra, his brother Jamie, and Richard’s granddaughter, Ella.

Beginning with a wine reception on Friday night, the gala epitomised the ethos of the festival – it honoured the outstanding career of one Limerick actor, but it also highlighted emerging local talent in Ireland.

The festivities commenced with the presentation of a breakout artist award to Irish actor Jack Reynor. Since starring in the critically acclaimed Irish film What Richard Did, he has earned roles in the latest instalment of the Transformers saga. Reynor is also set to appear alongside Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in a new adaptation of Macbeth.  

“It’s an honour to be allowed the opportunity to come down here and celebrate [Richard Harris’] life and career,” Reynor said after accepting the award from Jared Harris. “I will continue to meet the standards that Richard Harris has set for the Irish actors who come after him,” he added.

Before the evening’s screenings, there was just enough time for the Harris family and other guests to share their own memories of Harris as an actor, as a father and as a friend.

“I know that he would have been delighted to have a film festival named after him,” joked Jared Harris, who officially opened the festival. “He was a great encourager of dreams and young talent, so he would love it,” he added.

Family, colleagues and friends alike told their stories. Jared Harris recalled his father’s efforts to secure the role of King Arthur in Camelot. He disguised himself as a waiter in the Palm Springs restaurant where the makers of Camelot were dining in order to convince them to give him an audition.

The Field’s producer, Noel Pearson, spoke about his experience with Richard Harris on set. “At the end of Camelot, he took the crown, which is against all the rules. It was a prop and you’re supposed to give it back,” he said. “At the end of The Field, he took the coat and the stick.

“The one thing I can say about him, apart from being a great actor, he was fantastic company and a great guy,” he added.

The night continued with the screening of two films. It began with All Washed Up, a short made especially for the festival. This was followed by a showing of The Field, regarded my many as one of Harris’ finest performances.

All Washed Up, written and produced by Keith Bogue and starring Jon Kenny, is the moving story of a down-on-his-luck actor preparing for his final performance. Notably, all of the supporting actors in the film were from Limerick.

In spite of being made more than two decades ago, The Field continues to enthrall and move audiences. The screening of the Irish tragedy was no exception to this rule – the tale of one farmer’s all-consuming desire for land and the upheaval it causes kept everyone gripped, still and silent. We were all engrossed in this story and Harris’ performance. We may have seen it many times, but the screening was a testament of The Field’s enduring appeal, as well as the talent of one of Ireland’s most memorable actors.

As the gala concluded with a lavish reception in the George Boutique Hotel, attendees looked forward to a weekend of diverse Irish film. Public screenings of What Richard Did and the new independent film Starred Up were programme highlights. Meanwhile, the festival’s short film competition – run in conjunction with the prestigious Newport Beach Film Festival – was set to be a key event for up-and-coming Irish filmmakers. Most importantly, the festival promised to reveal the ever-growing potential of Irish film, writing and actors.

 

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