8 Irish Film Festivals Sign Pledge for Gender Parity and Inclusion

Women in Film and Television Ireland (wft.ie) a chapter of Women in Film and Television International, has announced that to date 8 Irish Film festivals have accepted their invitation to sign up to the 5050×2020 Gender Parity and Inclusion Pledge which was launched by Cannes Festival chiefs at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

These are: Animation Dingle, Cork Film Festival, Dublin Feminist Film Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, GAZE LGBT Film Festival, Kerry Film Festival, Still Voices Short Film Festival and Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.
Founded in 2003, the Dublin International Film Festival sets the agenda of the year with its programme of outstanding Irish and international film.

The official Irish festival signing was held yesterday at The Lighthouse Cinema with John Rice (Co-Founder & Director Animation Dingle), Aoife O’Toole (Director Dublin Feminist Film Festival), Fiona Clark (Producer & CEO Cork Film Festival), Ronan O’ Toole (Director Still Voices Short Film Festival) and Gráinne Humphreys (Festival Director Dublin International Film Festival) in attendance alongside Dr. Susan Liddy, (Chair of Women in Film & Television Ireland).


Dr Susan Liddy Chair of Women in Film and Television Ireland, Fiona Clark Producer & CEO Cork Film Festival, Aoife O’ Toole Director Dublin Feminist Film Festival, Grainne Humphreys Festival Director Dublin International Film Festival, John Rice Founder Animation Dingle and Ronan O Toole Director Still Voices Short Film Festival. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

It’s heartening that so many Irish film festivals have joined forces with us to formally commit to the principle of gender parity and inclusion in festivals. We warmly welcome their enthusiasm and solidarity and we hope this initiative will mark the beginning of a supportive partnership between us. We need more women in the film industry at every level. While girls’ and women’s voices are not heard and their stories are not told, our culture is the poorer for it. Film festivals are a hugely important part of any conversation about equality. They are an important link in the journey of a film and filmmaker. This is why we need greater transparency about what films are submitted, what films are selected and who is making the decisions. As with anything, information must be the starting point and we commend these festivals for agreeing to track that. This is an initiative that WFT Ireland will be building on over the coming months and we call on other festivals to join with us and embrace the challenge.
Dr. Susan Liddy, Chair – Women in Film & Television Ireland

Initiated by the 5050 Pour 2020 Collective, a charter was signed in 2018 by Cannes’ festival chiefs to work towards gender parity and inclusion.

The charter invites film festivals across the world to make the following commitment to gender parity and inclusion:

  • To compile statistics of gender of the directors of all the films submitted to selection (and when possible, to also compile statistics of the cast and crew when mentioned in the registration process).
  • To make public the gender of the members of selection committees, programmers and programming consultants.
    To make public the gender of executive boards and/or boards of directors and/or to commit to a schedule to achieve parity in these bodies.
    All Irish festival signatories have committed to giving a full update to Women in Film & Television Ireland, who will make public their progress during their respective 2020 festivals.
  • Women in Film & Television Ireland will also update the 5050 Pour 2020 Collective about the new signatories in time for the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

As Ireland’s first and largest film festival, Cork Film Festival (CFF) is pleased to join WFTV in partnering with the 5050×2020 Cannes Collective to pledge our commitment to the 5050×2020 Charter, alongside the first Irish signatories. CFF supports increased transparency and gender-focused change across the Irish film landscape. CFF actively advocates for equality and inclusion in our industry by creating opportunities for meaningful public and sector dialogue as part of the Festival and by monitoring gender parity across our programme, submissions, jurors, panelists, programmers, staff, Board and volunteers.

The 63rd edition of the Festival in 2018 demonstrated that the Festival is actively making steps towards achieving its gender parity commitment. For example, 42% of our Shorts Programme was directed, co-directed and/or produced by women and 72% of our award-winning films were directed, co-directed and/or produced by women, with 47% female awards jurors. While this demonstrates CFF’s commitment to achieving greater representation for women in our programme, we recognise the need to focus our collective energy on advocating for gender equality in the sector. We welcome the opportunity to participate in the 5050×2020 Cannes Collective to strive for equal representation for women’s voices in film.
Fiona Clark, Producer & CEO – Cork Film Festival

Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival is proud to be part of the first group of signatories to the 5050×2020 Charter. The festival puts the films and filmmakers at its heart and understands the importance of nurturing new and experienced talent alike.

In 2019, of the over 100 feature length films screened at the festival, we are glad to say that 59% had women producers and 30% were produced by people of colour. However, the Festival is not complacent about its progress to date, and recognises that there is more work to be done to achieve diversity in all of its activities.

This partnership between the festival, WIFT and Cannes is another important step in proactively changing the power dynamics and creative output of the Irish film industry for the better.
Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director – Dublin International Film Festival


Vincent Lambe, Director of ‘Detainment’

Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993.

Eleanor McSherry was at this year’s Kerry Film Festival and got the chance to talk to Vincent Lambe about his docudrama, Detainment, which won Best Irish Short Film at the festival.


Killarney House is a gem of a building nestled in the heart of Killarney. The views from its gardens on a clear day, with the mountains behind it, are a vista worthy of any film. Sadly, I was not there filming but more excitedly, there to interview Vincent Lambe, a new Irish director/producer on the film landscape and winner of Best Irish Short at the festival.

According to Vincent Lambe’s website he is ‘an award-winning director and producer from Ireland. He is a graduate of the National Film School of Ireland and has worked with a wide range of companies and broadcasters including TG4, Nemeton Television, Vico Films, Sony Music and Universal Music.  He is a double winner of the Young Director Award at the Cannes Lions, winning both the Gold Screen Award and The Special Jury Prize and an unprecedented standing ovation for his latest film Detainment. The film premiered at the 58TH Krakow Film Festival where it won its first award and it won the Grand Prix at the Odense International Film Festival, which means it is officially Oscar qualified and goes on the longlist for the Academy Awards.

Vincent has a long distinguished list of films and accolades under his belt, which is not only impressive but a little intimidating. His docudrama Detainment is a story about the two ten year-old boys who are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler in Liverpool in the early 1990s. ‘A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993’. This film is already on the longlist for the Oscars and is not for the faint-hearted; it is disturbing, heart-wrenching and also thought provoking.

This is a very timely short, in light of the rise of TV genre of True Crime documentaries. Viewers all over the world are switching onto Netflix and its ilk, wanting to see why some people commit murder.  What makes this film so compelling is that it not only looks at the murder of 2-year-old Jamie Bulger but also at the children, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who committed the crime. The film doesn’t glorify what they did or make excuses for them but puts the details in front of the audience in order for them to make up their own minds, which is a fantastic feat. So being able to interview Vincent, the mind behind the film was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Making a film like Detainment, was there a fear that no one will give you funding, what was the reception like for the idea?

Well, I didn’t get funding. I did try and it was tricky. I knew it was going to be tricky though, it was a risky one. I can understand that if RTE or the Film Board funded it, there is a risk that it could be either be really really good or just terrible. I just got so frustrated with the whole process I just saved up money and put €35000 of my own money into it.

How are you finding the reception from the Irish filmmaking establishment, now that the film is finished?  Are they taking notice of the film?

Yes, just lately, in Galway where the film had its Irish premiere, they showed the whole 30-minute film, which is tricky as this is long for a short film. It’s hard to programme for festivals and I knew this. I went against my own advice on it, short films should be short, thus easy to programme. I also knew that it is not right for all festivals either. The ones that it is right for seem to really like it. So Galway was first, now here (Kerry Film Festival) and the Richard Harris Festival. It’s not right for everything.


The timing is also important for a film like this.  If you think of when the boys were arrested, there was little media, not like we have today.  If they committed such a crime now there would be blogs, youtube, social media and it would have been all over the media and internet, so there would be little your film could offer to the discussion. But your film explores the story from an angle we never really were allowed to see at the time. Do you think now is the right time to re-tell this story?

I don’t think there is any good time to tell a story like this. I mean its 25 years since the murder happened and, while I had been thinking about this for such a long time, it had not been talked about in the media in such a long time. Then I saw it was back in the news due to the anniversary and it felt really strange, as I was not the only one thinking about it anymore. It was not good news stories either, Jon Venables going back to prison, which was bad. Also it was not a popular opinion I had, that this was a tragedy for three families. People are more comfortable of looking at those boys as those evil monsters.

The boys’ Liverpool accents in the film are so good, considering they’re from Dublin and Galway; did they have to work hard at it? What was the process that you used with them to get the accents so good?

They worked hard with a dialect coach and he was great, that’s Gavin O’Donoghue from the LIR. Leon is brilliant. He was able to drop in and out of the accent; he picked it up really quickly.  The dialect coach said he did very little with him. Ely found it trickier. He’s from Galway, and the vowel sounds are very different. He had a few sessions with the dialect coach, it made a huge difference. It was fascinating that it involved things like the placement of your tongue in your mouth to get that strong ‘th’ sound in things like ‘I think so’. They had to press their tongues against the roof of their mouths and the back of their teeth. Ely was saying ‘tink so’. I now know so much about the Liverpool accent that I didn’t know before; I could probably do a great job on it myself.

You’ve mentioned before that the two boys were not seasoned child actors but in fact natural non-actors? This seems to becoming more and more the way film directors want to go, directors like David Leigh and Ken Loach. Why did you do it?

I thought at first, to be honest that we would take one of the kids from the local drama schools. I was surprised who we ended up casting. It was as much about the right actor for the part rather than the most accomplished. Ely has never studied acting, never acted in anything or taken an acting class.  I knew that I could workshop with them and not have that unnatural ‘on’ acting that kids do on stage but rather reacting to the situation. Ely never tried to act, all he can do is tell the truth, which was a dream to direct. Leon had been doing drama but this was his first film, he’s also a really versatile actor. For example, his first audition for Jon was amazing. The fact that he could also do Robert, which was fascinating for me, as it is so far from who he really is. He’s shy and timid, which people really don’t get after they’ve seen the film. He’s such a sweet kid that if you forgot your lunch money he’d give you his lunch and not eat himself.

It’s hard to get them, the young actors, to get into the minds of Robert and Jon, as we can never really know why they murdered Jamie. How did you overcome this?

I tried to get to understand, as much as I could by the evidence that is there, for example Robert’s family dynamic. Robert was just left to his own devices, six boys in a house where, if Robert was beaten up, instead of taking it out on his older brother, he would take it out on his younger brother, Ryan, who was 6. So when they are in the shopping centre Robert says ‘let’s get a kid, I haven’t hit one in ages’.  That’s where that came from. What helped me understand was not that they came from disadvantaged backgrounds, that’s too easy to blame and plenty of people in that position don’t commit murders. For me it was the relationship and dynamic between the two boys, more so, than background that influenced what they did. Robert had this tough guy persona he created for himself and he had to live up to that and Jon was completely different, he was weak but didn’t want to look like that to Robert. So once the task was set, neither one of them could back down, for those reasons. For me that is more why what happened, happened. Their background and upbringing is relevant but it’s their toxic relationship which led them to do what they did.

I’m not sure if they even set out to murder Jamie. In the opening sequence of the film they are just hanging around the shopping centre to steal… whatever; it didn’t matter. The fun part is the stealing. Everything in the sequence happened; they poke an old women and steal a toy soldier, play with it on the escalator and break it, then throw it down the moving steps.  It’s almost like a metaphor for what they eventually do, there is no enjoyment in just taking the toy soldier and put it neatly back the shelf, then leave. After they have taken the boy, it’s like what do we do with him now and to just bring him to a police station wouldn’t have given them any satisfaction.  It’s very dark when you think of it. When you try to get into their heads, it’s like they didn’t know what to do. But there is also the fact that Jon wanted to look tough in front of Robert and Robert wanted to be the same, neither wanted to do the reasonable thing, it would have been lame. This is an example of that toxic relationship and its consequences. It’s a tricky concept to understand and most of us don’t want to understand. The case is so horrific a lot of people just want to shy away from it, than absorb all the facts about it.

The case is on most psychology courses now, to study, which is weird. Child psychologists are trying to understand the relationship that led to the awful murder. It’s a real interesting case to study.




Detainment screened on Saturday 20th of October, 2018, at Killarney Cinema as part of the Kerry Film Festival



Vincent Lambe: www.vincentlambe.com/





Kerry Film Festival  – INDUSTRY EVENTS


The 19th Kerry Film Festival will run from 17th – 21st October 2018 screening short and feature films from around the world along with national and regional short film programmes. The festival will also host industry and networking events along with the annual awards ceremony.


Kerry Film Festival presents industry networking events to encourage film makers to network and to engage with industry professionals. On Friday 19th October, Film Network Ireland bring their speed networking event, Coming down here, Watching all our Films to Killarney bringing film makers from around the world together to connect and network.


On Saturday 20th, Festival Formula present an event, You’ve made your film, now what? to help filmmakers understand the importance of film festivals, the benefits they can bring, and how best to prepare for the film festival circuit.


Panel Discussions and In Conversation events will include a panel discussion on working with children in film,Children On Screen with director, Vincent Lambe and young actors, Ely Solan and Leon Hughes from Detainment and director David Lam and assistant producer Louise Ashby  from Misplaced.


A panel discussion on the making of documentary film called Building the Picture – Creating the Documentary, features Leslie Ann Coles (Melody Makers), Keith Walsh (When All is Ruin Once Again) and Moira Sweeney (Keepers of The Port) and director, Hugh O’Conor (Metal Heart) will discuss his debut feature and more in an In Conversationevent at Killarney House.


Kerry Film Festival will present the Maureen O’Hara Award 2018 to Deirdre O’Kane at a special event on Saturday 20th October followed by the annual Awards night event.


The Kerry Film festival runs from 17-21st October in Killarney.


Full details on  kerryfilmfestival.com






Kerry Film Festival – Highlights


The 19th Kerry Film Festival will run from 17th – 21st October 2018 screening short and feature films from around the world along with national and regional short film programmes. The festival will also host industry and networking events along with the annual awards ceremony.


Short film programmes are a vital part of the Kerry Film Festival programme and the festival will screen selected world premieres alongside new programme categories, music video and advertising. The shorts programme features significant acting talents including Luke Norris, Jessie Buckley, David Gyasi and Dominic West while the European premiere of short film, Hero starring Charles Dance and directed by Freddie Fox will screen as a featured short.


In the Children Through the Lens shorts programme, powerful performances from young children feature in Misplaced, a true story about two half Chinese children and their Irish mother abandoned in rural 1980’s Ireland and award winning film, Detainment,a true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993.


Other festival highlights include, the Irish premiere screening of Melody Makers,from director Leslie Ann Coles telling the true story of the rise and fall of the most influential music publication in history, Melody Maker magazine. The Irish premiere of Mad Hannans directed by Martin Shore is a film about brothers and musicians Jerry and Seán Hannan, chronicling their rise, fall, and ultimate reconciliation. A live performance with Jerry Hannan and band in J.M Reidy’s, Killarney will follow the screening.


Irish feature film, Metal Heart,starring Jordanne Jones and Moe Dunford will screen on Friday 19th October with director, Hugh O’Conor in attendance. The festival will host the Irish Premiere of 2018 SXSW grand jury prize winning feature film Thunder Road from Jim Cummings. The Discovery Feature programme presents No Party for Billy Burns and Around Here.


There are screenings of award winning documentary films, When All is Ruin Once Again and The Man Who Wanted To Fly while the festival features a 100th anniversary screening of 1918 silent film, Knocknagow with live music accompaniment.


Romanian feature film Hawaii brings a story of 1980’s Romania to the big screen while documentary Keepers of the Port looks at Dublin Port and those who work there. Kerry feature films Tradition and Con screen on opening night and closing night respectively.


The annual Maureen O’Hara Award will be presented to Deirdre O’Kane in 2018. In presenting the Maureen O’Hara Award, the festival acknowledges the wealth of female talent in all sectors of the film and television industry, women in front of and behind the camera, who shine through for their exceptional talent and commitment to their craft.


Speaking about the 2018 Kerry Film Festival, festival director, Maeve McGrath noted, “The quality of films submitted in 2018 was outstanding, the short films in the 19th edition of the Kerry Film Festival are the cream of the crop from around the world. There is a marked rise in the appearance of high profile actors starring in short films submitted to the festival and it reflects the importance of the short film form”


Maeve added,“We are incredibly proud of our feature film presentations this year, we feel that there is something for everyone in the 2018 programme and we look forward to sharing the KFF 2018 programme with the local and visiting audience.”


The Kerry Film festival runs from 17-21st October in Killarney.



‘Con’ a 7,000 Euro Irish Feature Film



In Con, we follow successful filmmaker and actor, Con Keogh, as he leaves rehab and prepares to reunite with his estranged father after 25 years. He agrees to participate in a documentary following his every move and with emotions running high the production takes a few twists and turns.

Below, Bertie Brosnan gives us the lowdown on his latest feature, which will premiere at the Kerry Film Festival on the 21st of October, 2018.


Development & Pre-Production

 One thing I want to make abundantly clear from the beginning is that producing a feature film for 7,000 euros in total (from idea all the way to screen) is not easy. You have to think outside the box. The point is this: you have to be prepared to do what it takes and be relentlessly resourceful.

First things first, you have to know your budget. In our case, I knew for a fact that I had 3,000 euros cash to work with for the production budget – this was an investors stake (I would pay him back when the project was starting to bring in money). I could put in around 1,000 euros of my own cash for extra production money. And, I had faith in an Indiegogo Campaign that I had planned to raise for the post-production money after the shoot. I am reasonably good at fundraising small amounts through crowdfunding campaigns, so I gambled on the few grand coming through once we had the film shot.

Secondly, you have to be utterly realistic as to what you can shoot and who your crew and cast will be with the money you have. Think of it this way, “What can you really do with 7,000 euros of a full production budget?”

Here’s how my mind worked: 1/3 on the Cinematography/Editing; 1/3 on the Sound Recording and Mixing and 1/3 on the rest of Post-Production and Production Expenses.

Simple as that, I had to find a way to complete every area of the production for the money we had, it helps that you develop your entrepreneurial spirit!

This brings us to what I could film for such little money: I had a few scripts in the works, but I knew that none of them were feasible on such a micro-budget, so I had to compromise. I knew that I would have no lights, no gaffer, no prominent actors, no special effects or anything that would cost a significant amount. I also knew that I wouldn’t have many shooting days, so the turnaround had to be very quick. What this did to my producer’s brain was quite weird actually, it began to take a story I was thinking about years previously where a local celebrity shoots a movie about himself and his name was Con Casey. I started to visualise a film that was breaking the third wall and a run-and-gun or guerrilla style film. What we ended up with was by definition a “Mockumentary” or “Fictional Documentary” – the latter term I prefer.



Writing the screenplay

After spending time in the film industry and working on the scene as a filmmaker and actor, I knew the independent biz and how it operated. I also knew about alcoholism or addiction through personal experiences and family members and friends. I also know about loss of loved ones to cancer and how that can affect the mind. So I wrote what I knew as the old saying goes and thus Con was born. The film is an interweaving of prominent social issues into one specific premise, i.e.

The story of a relatively successful filmmaker and actor, Con Keogh, who leaves rehab and takes part in a documentary to reunite him with his estranged father after 25 years.

I felt that shooting “mockumentary” style would be doable and cheap; but, I hate the term “mockumentary” and prefer fictional documentary or in our case a straight drama with some light humour. Our screenplay and ultimately the film came from what was necessary and feasible rather than the other way around where debut filmmakers put incredible amounts of pressure and strain on themselves financially. I will never do that to myself!

Lesson 101 – do not go into significant debt for your first film! There will be plenty time for that!


Filming a tiny micro-budget feature film

Shooting Con was a dream because I acquired some actor friends and new actors to come on board and help out. I didn’t have the money to pay actors. Having people on board that were supportive and wanting to create a film for themselves was key to keeping the costs down. Of course, there are huge arguments against “free” labour with artists, but I stress that everyone involved wanted to create this film and get the credit. I have myself been involved in many projects for free because I wanted the credit and understood that there was no money involved. In total there were only three people in the crew:a cinematographer, a sound recordist, and an assistant director.

I shot Con in my hometown of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland and regarding costs, this was vital because all the locations were free, and most of them were in the family. I have many contacts in Tralee, and I used local businesses and apartment complexes to house the actors and to support the film. Tralee is a small but commercial town, so it was a novelty for most people to know that a film was being shot here. Our footprint was so low we could manoeuvre all over the town and in and out of locations very quickly; all this helped with the style of Con, very naturalistic and “fly-on-the-wall”.

We were blessed with the weather also as we shot during the most prolonged heat-wave in recent memories in May 2016. It lasted several weeks, and our shoot happened right in the middle of it. In Ireland, we experience a lot of rain, and this was always a concern for us. If anything it was probably a little too bright at times, but for the most part, our lighting consistency was good. Because it was a mockumentary, we could get away with a slightly edgy look or a rough and ready style. We shot 4k, and in hindsight, it wasn’t necessary, but hey, you live and learn. But, the images are insanely crisp so maybe it was a good thing. Shooting HD with a micro-budget is much more suitable and efficient in the editing room, timewise.


Equipment & locations

We used a Panasonic GH4 owned by the cinematographer, Brian O’ Connor. I highly recommend this camera for newbies to filmmaking because you can shoot beautiful images and it’s a very mobile camera. I shot another short film, Last Service with Brian on this camera too.

The key to filming on a tight budget is locations, and how far they are apart. I like to think of a “Nucleus of Locations” where you have Unit Base in the centre and every location within a few miles of that base. I learned this trick on my short film Sineaterwhich is currently distributed with Shorts TV and SoFY TV worldwide. The more moving you do, the more expensive everything is. Simple as that. We shot Sineater in one night and Con in eight days. Preparation is key. Visiting locations beforehand and nailing the shot composition for the most critical moments in a scene. Once you know what you are doing before you arrive on set, it makes life so much easier. I have worked on sets where the director is arguing with the DoP, and there is nothing worse than that.


Working with actors

Rehearsals with the actors are essential when possible. I am a great believer in playing to people’s strengths. I like knowing what actors are good at and feel comfortable doing and using that to save time and effort. Actors are beautiful beings – usually. I love actors as I am one. I enjoy the creative process of speaking about the character and working on the dissection of a scene. If you do not know what I am talking about – I urge you to take acting classes and understand how actors work. The most prominent skills I have is the ability to express myself to actors. One of the most influential elements to Con is the realness of the piece. People think it’s real at times. All I did was use what actors had already in their consciousness and exploited that – in a nice way. Everything I did was to save time, hassle and to make sure we got a quality story. The acting was very strong and  much of the feedback confirmed that.


Post-Producing Con

Brian O’ Connor and I edited the film right away after shooting. I don’t recommend that, but we had to do it. I made a deal with Brian for 20 days, so I had half of that for filming and half for the post. It worked out a treat. I hired an old colleague for Color Grading – Phillip Morozov who coloured all my pieces, and he did a fine job. I was able to get a bulk deal for Con and two short films. You have to be a lean entrepreneur if you are to create films on a budget.

People told me to spend two years on a screenplay, to wait until I get a 100,000 euros, wait for a certain actor, or find a shit hot producer – how long will I be waiting? Will I still be alive?

I get things done. That’s how I learn. This is my film school. I have never paid for film school. I produce my films as my experiments. Films should be experiments. Experiments in creativity.

To get back to the post-production, we finished the edit and colouring, and I hired a sound mixer and designer, Nikki Moss and we finished the mix in Gorrila Post Production in Dublin. I obtained a cool track Bright Stars from a band Exit:Pursued by a Bear. I know these guys well and was always a fan so they were delighted to be in the film.

I managed to get so much for free because most people are just awesome and the others gave me great deals. I am eternally grateful for the help and the people I met along the way.


Con will screen in the Killarney Cinema  at 7pm 21st Octobers as  part of the Kerry Film Festival



Bertie Brosnan (Brackenmore, Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) wrote, produced, directed, starred and co-edited Con while Brian O’ Connor (Con, Message, The School) shot and edited the film. Con was coloured by Phillip Morozov (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Con). Sound Design was by Nikki Moss (Patrick’s Day, Charlie Casanova), Music by Bensound www.bensound.com & Exit: Pursued by a Bear.

Starring in the film are Owen Barton (The Crown and the Dragon, Soulsmith, Lift), Jean Law (Fair City, The Guarantee), Michael O’ Sullivan (Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Remembering Yesterday), Cristina Ryan (Red Room, Zenith Protocol), Tadhg Hickey (The School, Ronanism), Laura O’ Shea (Narcan), Aidan Jordan (Striking Out, The Clinic) and Bertie Brosnan.


Review # 1: http://lzlark.com/the-con-movie-gives-fresh-insight-into-life-after-rehab/

Review # 2: http://onefilmfan.com/indie-film-review-con/

Review # 3: http://www.themoviebuff.net/2017/09/con-nr/

Review # 4: http://www.scottsmovies.com/films_c.html#conbrosn


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: http://www.bifafilms.co.uk/


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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: https://festivalformula.com/





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.