Irish Films in Cinema 2016


Keep an eye on the Irish films scheduled for release in cinemas in 2016.

 I Am Not a Serial Killer (Billy O’Brien)

9th December

A troubled teen with homicidal tendencies has to hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer while suppressing his own inner demons.

Crash & Burn (Seán Ó Cualáin)

2nd December

Crash & Burn tells the story of Dundalk-born Tommy Byrne, who, for a fleeting moment in the early ’80s, was the world’s greatest driver

Moscow Never Sleeps (Johnny O’Reilly)

11th November

The lives of six very different people mix in the most exciting and drammatic ways in today’s Moscow


The Land of the Enlightened (Pieter-Jan De Pue)

11th November

A gang of Afghan kids from the Kuchi tribe dig out old Soviet mines and sell the explosives to children working in a lapis lazuli mine. When not dreaming of the time when American troops finally withdraw from their land, another gang of children keeps tight control on the caravans smuggling the blue gemstones through the arid mountains of Pamir.

Further Beyond (Christine Molloy, & Joe Lawlor)

21st October


A deconstructed biopic of the extraordinary Ambrosio O’Higgins, who left Ireland to become the captain general of Chile in the Spanish Empire.

The Flag (Declan Recks)

14th October

Irish Londoner Harry Hambridge comes across an extraordinary testimony from his Grandfather, claiming that it was he who hoisted the Irish flag on top of the GPO during the 1916 rising and that the self same flag was hung upside-down in an army barracks in Hampshire, Harry knows his long awaited call in life has arrived.

Mattress Men (Colm Quinn)

7th October

A bittersweet and moving tale of friendship and the struggles of two men that is sure to delight audiences everywhere.

Dare to Be Wild (Vivienne De Courcy)

23rd September

Irishwoman Mary Reynolds goes from an outsider to a champion at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The Young Offenders (Peter Foott)

16th September

Two teenage boys from Cork steal bicycles and ride off on a quest to find a missing bale of cocaine worth 7,000,000 euros.

A Date for Mad Mary (Darren Thornton)

2nd September

‘Mad’ Mary McArdle returning to Drogheda after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is maid of honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong. But her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone… until she meets Jess and everything changes.

Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village (Aoife Kelleher)

12th August

Explores the big question of faith, in a small Irish village.

Viva (Paddy Breathnach)

19th August

Viva follows Jesus, an eighteen-year-old Cuban who is lost and struggling to realize his true identity. Unsure of himself or his future direction, he works at a local Havana drag club where he entertains dreams of becoming a performer whilst earning his money through hustling. At home he finds solace listening to the records his mother and grandmother left him. Into his life, however, comes a force to challenge his direction and free

Bobby Sands: 66 Days (Brendan J. Byrne)

5th August

A cinematic portrait of the Irish Republican martyr’s epic 66day hunger strike that grabbed the worlds attention in the early 1980s.

Mom and Me (Ken Wardrop) 

15th July

A creative documentary that delicately challenges the familiar love story shared between a son and his mother. It is a story that reveals comedy in the everyday and misery on some other days.

The Price of Desire (Mary McGuckian)

25th May

The Price Of Desire is the controversial story of how Eileen Gray’s influential contribution to 20th century architecture and design was almost entirely wiped from history by the egotistical ‘Father of Modernism’ Le Corbusier, and of how her relationship with philanderer Jean Badovici (Le Corbusier’s promoter by way of his influential architectural publication L’Architecture Vivante) further fuelled the rift between the two architects, both personally and professionally, consigning her legacy to a century of neglect and long-overdue recognition.

Who is Dervla Murphy? (Garret Daly)

23rd April


A profile of Ireland’s most prolific travel writer who has written twenty four books, been on countless journeys, and has a worldwide fan base and massive critical success.

My Name is Emily (Simon Fitzmaurice)

April (8th April)


After her mother dies and her father is institutionalized, Emily is placed in a foster home and in a new school where she is ostracized. When her father’s annual card fails to arrive on her 16th birthday, Emily knows something’s wrong. She decides to take matters into her own hands and, enlisting her only friend at school, Arden, sets off on a road trip to break her father out of the psych ward. As their journey progresses Emily and Arden become close, and both come to realize important truths about the nature of relationships, both to their parents and to each other.

Mammal (Rebecca Daly)

1st April

A love story between a woman who has lost her son in tragic circumstances and the relationship she develops with a homeless youth.

Atlantic (Risteard O’Domhnaill)

29th April 


Atlantic is the latest film from the makers of the multi-award-winning documentary, The Pipe (2010). This film follows the fortunes of three small fishing communities – in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland – which are at turns united and divided by the Atlantic Ocean. In recent times, mounting challenges within their own industries, the fragile environment, and the lure of high wages for young fishermen on the oil rigs have seen these fishing communities struggle to maintain their traditional way of life. As the oil majors push into deeper water and further into the Arctic, and the world’s largest fishing companies chase the last great Atlantic shoals, the impact on coastal communities and the ecosystems they rely on is reaching a tipping point. Atlantic tells three very personal stories of those who face the devastating prospect of having their livelihoods taken from them, and their communities destroyed both environmentally and economically.

Sing Street (John Carney)

18th March


Having experienced a tough time at home, a young boy strikes out on his own and forms a band.

Traders (Rachael Moriarty, Peter Murphy)

11th March

Traders 230x240

Harry is offered a new business proposition. Two people convert all their assets to cash, arrange to meet, dig one grave and fight to the death. Winner buries the loser and instantly doubles his value.

The Truth Commissioner (Declan Recks)

26th February


Set in a post-troubles Northern Ireland, The Truth Commissioner follows the fictional story of Henry Stanfield, a career diplomat who has just been appointed as Truth Commissioner to Northern Ireland. The story revolves around the lives of three men who are directly or indirectly involved in the disappearance, 20 years earlier, of the 15-year-old Connor Roche. Though Stanfield starts bravely, he quickly uncovers some bloody and inconvenient truths about those now running the country; truths which none of those in power are prepared to have revealed. Everyone claims to want the truth, but what is it going to cost, and who is going to pay for it?

The Survivalist (Stephen Fingleton)

12th February


He was one of those people who thought the end was coming. What if he was right?

Strangerland (Kim Farrant)

5th  February 

The Parker family, new to the remote desert town of Nathgari, are thrown into crisis when parents Catherine and Matthew discover that their two teenage kids have mysteriously disappeared just before a massive dust storm hits the town. With the town now eerily smothered in red dust and darkness, the locals join the search led by local cop David Rae. But scorching temperatures mean the chances of survival are plummeting with each passing day and Catherine and Matthew find themselves pushed to the brink as they struggle to survive the uncertainty of their children’s fate.

Room (Lenny Abrahamson)

15th January

To Jack, Room is the world…. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it’s home to Jack, to Ma it’s a prison. Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their ten-by-ten-foot space. But as Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation – she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely.

Shem the Penman Sings Again (Pádraig Trehy)

8th January

Shem The Penman Sings Again is an experimental feature film that provides a way into James Joyce’s creative imagination and the conception of “Finnegans Wake”.

Last Hijack (Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting)

8th January

A true tale of survival in Somalia told from the pirate’s perspective.  The film takes an innovative hybrid approach to explore how one Somali pirate – Mohamed – came to live such a brutal and dangerous existence.

dom – his long-lost father Angel, once a celebrated boxer and newly released from a 15-year prison term..






Interview: Tommy Palotta, co-Director of ‘Last Hijack’

Tommy portrait_high res


Last Hijack tells the true story of a Somalian pirate torn between an exciting life of crime and family commitments. The documentary utilises animation to reveal how Mohamed came to this way of life. His hopes and fears for the present and future are eloquently captured in the film’s unique look. Last Hijack also reveals the wider-reaching implications of Mohamed’s activities on his family and community, while the political implications of piracy in Somalia are also delved into.

Now that Mohamed is engaged, both his parents and in-laws are pressuring him to change his ways and settle down into marriage and family life. Mohamed is not entirely sure that this is what he wants, but time is ticking by, and he must decide whether he is willing to risk it all for the thrill of one last hijack.

The visually striking and highly original hybrid documentary was co-directed by Tommy Palotta and Femke Wolting. Deirdre Molumby spoke with Palotta about conceptualising and realising this unique project.


Palotta originally started thinking about the film after reading an article about the most underreported and censored stories in the media today. ‘I knew very little about Somalia, the illegal fishing and dumping there, and realised I’d never really been exposed to the non-western perspective of the place. I started thinking about what we know about ‘pirates’ and how they’ve been such enduringly iconic figures over the ages, and I was also interested in what would drive a person to that way of life. The more I researched it the more I became interested in not only pirates but the situation in Somalia specifically.’

Palotta and co-director Femke Wolting had often experimented with various forms of media across their careers, finding that they offer a wealth of possibilities in terms of storytelling.  ‘My partner Femke came up with the idea of making Last Hijack a hybrid, which was our vision for the film from a very early stage. We also decided in the very beginning that it wasn’t going to just be a film but there would be an interactive documentary portion to it also, so there’s that aspect of it as well, which is available on The film portion of Last Hijack is quite traditional, taking the Somalian point of view, whereas the interactive documentary is the broader story and wider objective view, showing the geo-political and global ramifications of what is happening there.’

As one would expect from the subject matter alone, one of Palotta’s greatest difficulties in making the film was access. However, by focussing on the personal life and relationships of one pirate in particular, Mohamed, Palotta found that not only were more doors opened, but a focussed storyline developed that was orientated around this particular individual.

‘Anytime you embark on a project like this you do a lot of preparation, a lot of research, you have a particular vision for it, and then it becomes something very different along the way. To turn this complex project into a simpler story that would work in a film, we focussed on the subject of Somalian piracy, and started to work on a number of questions: what would I need to survive? What conditions does it take to have the moxie to take a small fishing vessel and try to take over a huge cargo ship? Those sort of questions really hooked me into what the film could be. As we were making the film, it changed as we realised that the window to the story was the central father-son relationship [between the lead, Mohammad, and his dad], and the father’s desire to save his son. Witnessing the collateral damage of piracy within this community and culture was another way in which the story evolved.’

Mohamed is one of Somalia’s most experienced pirates. The country is the worldwide capital of piracy: ‘Somalia is a failed state, it has had no central state of government for over twenty years, so, as much as the piracy angle interested me, the political situation in Somalia specifically was also very intriguing. I was interested in what happens to a society with no central government.’ While piracy was once admired as a means of making ends meet, now Somali pirates face increasing scrutiny and stigmatization both at home and abroad: ‘people idolised the pirates and then suddenly turned against them at the same time that the political situation in Somalia got worse.’


The animated sequences of the film serve to recreate past hijackings and other memories of Mohamed’s. Through experimentation, Palotta found that ‘the animation could really provoke an emotion, capturing dreams and aspirations, and hopes and fears, in the way that voiceover aims at in fiction film, or how a novelist works in first-person narrative. It worked so well as a window to tell more about the characters, and it also liberated us from the shackles of the formal notion of documentary filmmaking.

‘I never really cared about how animation looked. I was always interested in how it told a story. So I never really know the rules, I just want to make something new. I’ve found that people really respond to new forms of storytelling and open up their minds to them.

‘The film goes in and out of animation sequences at about twelve different points in the movie, and the challenge was not make it feel like it was stopping and starting, but that there was a flow to these transitions. With the live action and animation respectively, we found this relationship between objective and subjective emerged. Film is really good at showing perspective in that way.’

Knowing that they had an interesting story, and that the way they wanted to tell it (namely from a Somalian perspective and as a hybrid) made it even more interesting, Palotta and Wolting went about pitching Last Hijack it to a number of international film companies. The Irish Film Board became the first financiers on board, which encouraged other backers to soon follow suit. Aware of Ireland’s history of successful animation and creative talent, Palotta approached a number of production companies under the guidance of Irish co-producer Still Films, eventually settling on post-house Piranha Bar: ‘You look for a collaborator who has the talent but also one who you can communicate with and will support you even if you’re not sure what the final product will be.’

For the animated sequences, painted backgrounds of oil paint on real canvases established a colour scheme, lighting, atmosphere and texture for the 3D world built around the backdrops. ‘We made the job much more difficult for the animators in that they had to match the setting and tone of these oil paintings. With oil paintings from far away it looks realistic but up close you can see the brush strokes and mistakes, and I loved the way that was used in the final movie. I love that the lines aren’t straight and the colours aren’t perfect. That’s what’s pleasant to my eye.’

Palotta and his team searched for a year and a half for their lead. ‘Mohamed was unique in that he had no intentions of leaving Somalia so he was able to speak very openly about it. From the very beginning I knew that he was a bit of a trickster and I thought that that was interesting because I didn’t know where he was coming from or what he was going to do. He has charm but there is also a bit of a dark side to him as well. I think they’re all characteristics that make a really interesting central character.

‘We learned that unlike with others, Mohamed isn’t doing this just for survival. His father makes it clear that he had other options, that this was his choice, which evades the idea of Mohamed as this ‘Robin Hood’ type figure. I didn’t find Mohamed sympathetic but I did sympathise with the father’s plight to save him from that lifestyle, and with the others in Mohamed’s family and community who were affected by his lifestyle. The ultimate question of the story becomes is he going to make the right choice.’

Final thoughts? ‘When you make a film like this, especially when it takes a long time to make them, it’s so great to get it out and get an engagement with an audience. I always want as many people to see the film as possible but it can be hard to get people’s attention because there’s so much content now. But there is an audience out there. Like having a child, these films have a life of their own later on. I’ve been very fortunate in that the movies that I made in the past were never really ‘mainstream’ when they came out and weren’t widely viewed, but they have a sort of evergreen quality about them and actually their profiles have risen over the years. You can’t compete against Star Wars, there’s so much noise there, but with the advent of VOD and other platforms, we can see that people don’t just want Hollywood but also real stories, and they’re searching for that hidden intimacy that you’re not going to get with the big budget productions. At the end of the day, sometimes you just want to connect to humanity.’



‘Last Hijack’ Set for Cinemas



Last Hijack, the new release from filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting (A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life) will open in Irish cinemas on January 8th 2016.  The award-winning film combines documentary storytelling combined with ground-breaking Irish produced animation techniques.

Last Hijack is a true tale of survival in Somalia told from the pirate’s perspective.  The film takes an innovative hybrid approach to explore how one Somali pirate – Mohamed – came to live such a brutal and dangerous existence. Animated re-enactments exploring Mohamed’s memories, dreams and fears from his point of view are juxtaposed with raw footage from his everyday life in an original non-fiction narrative.

Nicky Gogan and Caroline Campbell from Irish production company Still Films produced the animation for the documentary with  Gavin Kelly and the animators at Piranha Bar, using a bespoke technique developed with Tommy Pallotta.



Last Hijack: Preview of Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh


The 26th Galway Film Fleadh (8 – 13 July, 2014)

Last Hijack

Sat 12th July




Last Hijack is a true tale of survival in Somalia told from the pirate’s perspective. Combining animation with documentary storytelling, the film takes an innovative hybrid approach to explore how one Somali pirate — Mohamed — came to live such a brutal and dangerous existence.

Animated re-enactments exploring Mohamed’s memories, dreams and fears from his point of view are juxtaposed with raw footage from his everyday life in an original non-fiction narrative. Somalia is the worldwide capital of piracy, and Mohamed is one of Somalia’s most experienced pirates. But in his homeland, a failed state, Mohamed is just another middle-aged man trying to make ends meet.

Nicky Gogan from Still Films, who co-produced the film, told Film Ireland, “Last Hijack has been our most exciting and biggest project to date, it took us over four years to complete the film. Collaborating with all our co-producers and the directors was an amazing experience. The documentary tells the story of Mohammed, a Somali pirate who struggles to reconcile his life as a pirate with his desire for family life. It combines live action with oil paintings, which we animated in 3D, with the wonderful team at Piranha Bar. It’s really brilliant to be included in the Fleadh programme where our peers can get a chance to see the film during one of the best filmmaker gatherings of the year.”

Directors: Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting

Script: Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting

Producers: Bruno Felix, Femke Wolting


Still Films’ Latest Co-production Screens in Berlin


Still Films’ latest co-production Last Hijack wil premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival this Friday.

Directed by Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta, Last Hijack is a true tale of survival in Somalia told from the pirate’s perspective. Combining animation with documentary storytelling, the film takes an innovative hybrid approach to explore how one Somali pirate – Mohamed – came to live such a brutal and dangerous existence. Animated re-enactments exploring Mohamed’s memories, dreams and fears from his point of view are juxtaposed with raw footage from his everyday life in an original non-fiction narrative.

Working closely for the past four years with directors Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta and the Submarine team, Nicky Gogan and Caroline Campbell  of Still Films produced the animation for the documentary with Gavin Kelly and the animators at Piranha Bar, using a bespoke technique developed with Tommy, painter Hisko Hulsing and illustrator Aaron Sacco.

Producer Nicky Gogan said: It was such a privilege to work on this documentary with Tommy and Femke, both of whom have made films I love and admire. Also bringing to life the paintings in such an imaginative and unique way was really exciting to us. It was really great to work with Gavin and his team as we have a long history of pushing animation boundaries both technically and aesthetically through our collaboration when programming the Darklight Festival.”

Last Hijack  is a Dutch / Irish / German / Belgian co-production by Submarine in co-production with Still Films, Razor Film, Savage Film, IKON and ZDF. In association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board. Supported by the Media Programme of the European Union, Netherlands Film Fund, CoBO, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, the Dutch Media Fund and the Flanders Audiovisual Fund with the participation of PLANÈTE + and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse.