Podcast: Capital Irish Film Festival


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

2017 Capital Irish Film Festival_07

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


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 


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


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.


Irish Film Review: Lift


Stephen Porzio takes a look at Conor Armstrong Sanfey’s feature debut, which screened at the Underground Cinema Film Festival and will screen at Indiecork on the 15th October.

Lift is an enjoyable comical riff on the sub-genre of people trapped for an entire movie in a confined setting.  Directed by Conor Armstrong Sanfey and written by Kealan Ryan, the film is an expansion on the premise of an episode from the two’s show Mick & Jay Talk. Fiach Kunz plays Sean, a young man who enters into an office building and attacks one of the security guards. While Sean attempts to escape by elevator, the guard activates an emergency brake on his “getaway” and then passes out. Trapped in the lift, Sean’s frustration is increased by the countless other people in the cramped space – including work buddies Mick and Jay (Stephen Gorman, Kealan Ryan) and Mick’s work-crush Fiona (Hannah Crowley)

What is most commendable about Lift is how natural the performances are and how good the chemistry is between the lead actors. It is clear from the outset that Gorman and Ryan are comfortable in their dynamic because the banter between them is genuinely funny, even when the jokes are a little predictable. The sub-plot involving Mick trying to impress Fiona, to the chagrin of everybody else within their vicinity, works because Jay’s motor mouth insults clash so well against Mick’s nice-guy shyness.

The script, despite some moments such as the Mick-Fiona plot which feel more like a sitcom than a movie, is fast and witty. Ryan never lets a moment last too long where characters aren’t saying something humorous. Even when the movie slows down for a brief period and everyone in the lift begins to discuss annoying movie clichés, it’s a nicely meta and entertaining conversation.

Veteran Irish actor Gerard McSorley (The Boxer, Veronica Guerin) also puts in a fine turn as Sean’s warm and kind grand-father Eddy, appearing in flashbacks. On top of the fact that it’s great to see McSorley play against type, his character, despite the fact he is removed from the movie’s claustrophobic premise, gradually becomes integral to the plot. Although it appears, at first, that Eddy’s only function is to help one empathise with Sean, he becomes more fleshed out as the drama progresses and is actually the key to Sean’s actions in the movie’s opening.

The film builds to this climactic set-piece which, although stretches credibility, works well in terms of comedy and is sentimental but not irksomely so. It’s understandable how Lift has swept awards at various Indie film festivals across the world. Made with a reported €30,000 budget, it’s amusing, well-played and serves as an effective calling card for all involved.