The Festival opens with Nick Kelly’s crowd-pleasing buddy dramedy The Drummer & The Keeper, winner of the Best Irish First Feature at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh, and closes with stirring documentary Lomax in Éirinn, a look at American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax’s role in preserving Ireland’s rich folk music heritage. Other highlights include playwright Carmel Winter’s coming-of-age boxing drama Float Like a Butterfly, winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival; found-footage chiller The Devil’s Doorway, with director Aislinn Clarke in attendance; Don’t Leave Home, Ireland’s answer to Get Out, with director Michael Tully in attendance; highly anticipated horror The Hole in the Ground , fresh from Sundance; Ireland’s first stop-motion feature animation, Captain Morten And The Spider Queen; and hot-button documentary I, Dolours with journalist and producer Ed Moloney in attendance. Northern Irish actor Lalor Roddy is set to attend the festival to discuss his roles in three of this year’s selections.
Solas Nua, the Washington D.C.-based Irish arts organization, is calling for submissions of films by or about the Irish for consideration for its 10th Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF). The 2016 festival, scheduled for March 3-6, asks the question: 100 years after the Easter Rising, what does it mean to be Irish?
For information on entering a film for consideration, please go to www.solanua.org/films
In March, the film festival will be a significant event in Solas Nua’s contribution to Washington D.C.’s artistic and cultural exploration of Ireland’s 100-year journey since the 1916 Easter Rising.
CIFF highlights the best of contemporary Irish film and provides opportunities for Washington D.C.-area film lovers to interact with Irish filmmakers. In 2016, CIFF will particularly showcase emerging filmmakers who are addressing the question of Irish identity. CIFF is known for presenting the most Irish language films of any U.S. festival.
Documentary director Sinead O’Brien called showing Blood Fruit at CIFF 2015 “one of the best decisions we ever made for our film.” “The festival was brilliantly organized and the audiences’ engagement in this and all the Irish films screened was inspiring. From this one screening, Blood Fruit was invited back for a U.S. tour with four screenings in New York and D.C. — and from this tour many more invites have come in.”
“Solas Nua’s Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington DC is marvelously organized and produced by a great team,” said producer director Lelia Doolan. “When I brought Bernadette to the festival in 2013, all the arrangements worked beautifully. The welcome was warm and the audience was engaged, informed and enthusiastic. I recommend CIFF as an excellent showcase for Irish films in the U.S.”
Adam McPartlan reports from the 9th Capital Irish Film Festival, which brought some of the best of contemporary Irish film to Washington D.C.
The 9th Capital Irish Film Festival was held in Washington, DC on 5 – 8 February. Featured were a number of Irish films, documentaries, and shorts. The organization Solas Nua, with the help of some generous donations, held an extraordinary event that celebrated the beauty of Irish films made within the last year or so, including Frank, Gold, An Bronntanas, Blood Fruit, and A Terrible Beauty.
The films were extremely well-received. By the end of the festival, the entire audience praised the festival organizer and the Board of Directors of Solas Nua for their best festival yet. Certainly for me, as my first film festival of any kind, it was something spectacular.
Each of the films, particularly An Bronntanas, Gold, and Frank, showed the quality of acting Irish movies produce. Maisie Williams (Gold) and Michael Fassbender (Frank) were the two strongest performances of the entire festival. Williams, only a teenager, showed that her age does not measure her maturity; the Game of Thrones star made it exceedingly obvious that she is on her way to being an actor of the highest caliber. Fassbender, already an established actor, showed why he is so good: you see his face for all of fifteen minutes at the end of the film, but his emotions are visible through his papier-mâché mask because he so clearly defines them with his body movements.
An Bronntanas, Ireland’s submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, showed more about Irish film than the other two, because it was primarily spoken in Irish Gaelic. This stunning piece about deception, crime, and drugs kept the audience on the edge of their seats, suspending us all in disbelief when the film came to its catastrophic ending.
In the documentary genre, A City Dreaming, Blood Fruit, and A Terrible Beauty stood out. A City Dreaming, through footage and home videos, shows what it was like for Gerry Anderson, the film’s writer and director, to grow up on the streets of Derry. For anyone who previously knew nothing about the county, this film serves as a wonderful and beautifully edited abridged history.
Blood Fruit seemed to be one of the two highpoints of the festival. A documentary on the Dunnes Store strikers, this film served as a powerful educational film. Eleven workers went on strike after refusing to sell South African fruit during apartheid, and eventually became largely recognized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela for their struggle. For the whole world, particularly Americans given recent events in Missouri and New York, this film is necessary. Eleven people at Earth’s top went on strike because of the disgusting treatment of human lives in a country on the bottom of the world. We should all be so lucky as to have been born with that kind of spirit. Ireland should be extremely proud to be the home not only of this film, but also of the people who the story is about.
The closing show, A Terrible Beauty, was the other audience favorite of the festival. Part documentary/part drama, the movie shows what the Easter Rising was like not at the General Post Office, but in two other areas of Dublin; the Four Courts and Mount Street Bridge. Well-acted and directed, the film blends documentary with drama perfectly, making it clear to the audience how awful the week was, not only for the soldiers, but also for the civilians. After the film ended, one attendee called it “a necessary film to learn of the horrors of war.”
One of the more interesting parts of the festival was the Music and Multimedia Concert. A collection of fifteen shorts were shown, depicting various different forms of art on film. Many were animated shorts, others dance, and still others were pieces of music played while viewing a specific landscape. Most Americans tend to associate Irish music with the lively, upbeat flute, fiddle, and violin. This presentation, however, made it abundantly clear that Irish music can be so much more than that. Beautiful compositions played on piano, cello, and guitar accompanied scenes of waves crashing against the shore and the rolling, green mountains of Ireland. While not the most exciting event, it was certainly one of the more aesthetically pleasing ones.
This film festival on the whole was a great experience. Moreover, it serves as a great way to bridge the Irish film and arts industry into the American market. All of the films were produced with a quality that would be worthy of Oscar recognition, specifically Blood Fruit, An Bronntanas, Frank, and Gold. The musical compositions during the presentation were made with such intense skill, one might have thought them to be classical pieces from centuries ago. The festival certainly showed some of the bright lights Ireland has to offer not just the cinematic world, but the artistic world on the whole.
Of course, America has been paying attention to Irish cinema on another level for a few years already. In 2009, Ireland was given its first ever Oscar nomination in the Animated Film category. The Secret of Kells, unfortunately, lost to the Pixar production Up, but showed American filmgoers that Ireland is more than capable of producing beautiful works of art. Tomm Moore’s beautiful production and animation is something that, no matter how old you are, brings tears to your eyes at every viewing. It is one of the best animated films I have ever seen, and deserves to be known all around the world.
As if Moore’s first film being an Oscar nominated film wasn’t enough, he followed it up with another, even more beautiful film, Song of the Sea, and gained a second Oscar nomination. His career is so new, but given his artistic brilliance, I can see this man becoming Ireland’s Hayao Miyazaki, with the possibility of being even better than Miyazaki someday. Even if Moore never eclipses Miyazaki, Moore will still be the pinnacle of Irish animators, and one of the greatest animators of history.
The Capital Irish Film Festival is not only a success just because it sold out for every showing on every day. It is a success because of what it offers Americans in DC: the chance to see movies worth watching that the ordinary citizen doesn’t get to see. It is a success because of the beauty it brings to our Capital. It is a success because it is inspiring other festivals devoted to Irish film around the country. Next year will be its tenth year, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. You can bet that what happens next year will almost certainly be another giant step forward for Irish cinema and art in America, for the festival, and for Solas Nua.
America owes most of its own history to the Irish. There are forty million Irish-Americans, almost one-seventh of the entire population of the United States. All of us should be constantly looking for a way to go home again, even if we can’t fly there. Film festivals and arts festivals like these bring us home. Watching the films produced by Irish filmmakers, listening to the music composed by Irish composers, and enjoying the animation crafted by Irish animators… these are the things that tell me, as it should tell everyone, that Ireland will change the face of cinema, not just in the eyes and ears of Americans, but for the heart and soul of the world.
On behalf of all Americans, go raibh maith agat, Éireann.
Adam McPartlan is a 22-year-old student at the Catholic University of America. He is graduating in May with a history degree, and hopes to be a film critic.
Listen to Adam’s interviews from the festival:
The ninth Capital Irish Film Festival (5 – 8 February 2015) brought some of the best of contemporary Irish film to Washington D.C. This year’s highlights included a screening of Frank, Niall Heery’s Gold, Sinéad O’Brien’s fascinating documentary Blood Fruit and Keith Farrell‘s A Terrible Beauty.
Adam McPartlan attended the festival and, in the first of a series of audio interviews, speaks to Paddy Meskell, Chairman of the Board of Solas Nua, a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts, who run the Capital Irish Film Festival.
6:30 PM Life’s A Breeze, E Street
9:00 PM Opening Night Reception, Aria
Friday, December 6, Programming from 7pm – 11pm
7:00 PM, Skin in the Game, Goethe Institut
8:30 PM, Stalker, Goethe Institut
Saturday, December 7, Programming from 10am – 10pm
10:30 AM, Children’s Program, Goethe Institut
- Bia Duchais
- Fear of Flying
- Fionnuala: A Small Puppet on a Big Journey
12noon, Irish Films, Goethe Institut
- Bia Duchais
- Prata (Our Native Food, The Potato)
- Scoil Samhraidh
2:00 PM, Shorts Program, Goethe Institut
- Fear of Flying
- After You
- Toy Soldiers
- The Note
4pm Tapestry of Colours, Goethe Institut
6pm Home Turf with When Ali Came to Ireland, Goethe Institut
8pm OFFline Film Festival winners with Good Cake Bad Cake: The Story of Lir, Goethe Institut
Sunday, December 8, Programming from 12noon – 8pm
12noon Irish Films Goethe Institut
- Bia Duchais, Prata (Our Native Food, The Potato)
- City Wild
2pm, Life’s a Breeze, Goethe Institut
5pm, Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey, Goethe Institut
6:30 PM Director Talk with Lelia DoolanGoethe Institut
7:30 PM Closing Reception Goethe Institut
This year’s festival theme is “The Irish on Ireland,” a look at modern and historical Ireland by Irish filmmakers. The four-day festival runs from 5-8 December, 2013.
Solas Nua the only organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts.
For more information about the festival visit capitalirishfilmfestival.org
The entry should comply with and include the following:
Format: NTSC* DVD Film Screener (*Please note this is essential for selection
screening purposes; PAL format is not acceptable)
name, the length of the film and relevant contact details
Submission Form: You must complete the
Capital Irish Film Festival Submission Form (pdf), and submit it with
your DVD Film Screener.
Solas Nua are the only non-profit organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts. Solas Nua produces the Capital Irish Film Festival, a critically acclaimed theatre season, Irish Book Day, the DC Irish Writers Festival, visual arts exhibitions, the Éist monthly music podcasts, a free film screening series, a book club and dozens of special events annually. Founded in 2005 by Dubliner Linda Murray (Artistic Director) and DC native Dan Brick (Producing Director), Solas Nua is a resident organization at Flashpoint.
About the Festival: 6 -15 December, 2013
The Capital Irish Film Festival will be held in DC from 6-15 December, 2013. Please give a preliminary indication with the entry as to whether the Director, Cast or Production Staff would be in a position to visit DC during this period.
DEADLINE? 28th June, 2013
All submissions should reach Solas Nua by 28th June, 2013. Entries should be sent to:
Fiona Clem, The Capital Irish Film Festival, Solas Nua, 916 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001, USA
For further information, please contact Fiona Clem at firstname.lastname@example.org or at
Entry is now open for the Capital Irish Film Festival, the largest Irish film festival in the U.S., which will be held in Washington DC from 1–10 December 2011. Irish films are being sought in the fields of features, shorts, documentaries and animation – including those in the Irish language.
Previous applicants are encouraged to apply with a new submission. The DVD Film Screener must be in NTSC format (PAL is not acceptable). The DVD is to be labeled with the name of the film, the director’s name, the length of the film and relevant contact details. Filmmakers should include a short synopsis of not more than 150 words which also indicates whether the film has previously screened in the U.S.
Non-profit United States organization, Solas Nua is behind the Capital Irish Film Festival, as well as a critically acclaimed theatre season, Irish Book Day, the DC Irish Writers Festival, visual arts exhibitions, the Éist monthly music podcasts, a free film screening series, a book club and dozens of special events annually.
All submissions should reach Solas Nua by 13th June, 2011. Entries should be sent to:
Emma Madigan, The Capital Irish Film Festival, Solas Nua, 916 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001, USA