Irish Films in Cinema 2016

room-film-sept15

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

further-beyond-01

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

who-is-dervla-murphy_image-1243x777

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)

a1f6ae_de136546e89548858478b9eb4286e2e2

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 

screen-shot-2014-05-08-at-17.09.45-335x179

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

sing-street_image-1243x713

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

Barry_Ward_as_Michael_Madden_large

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

1197943_Magpie

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..


 

 

 

 

Share

Review: Strangerland

maxresdefault

 

DIR: Kim Farrant • WRI: Michael Kinirons, Fiona Seres • PRO: Macdara Kelleher, Naomi Wenck • DOP: P.J. Dillon • ED: Veronika Jenet • MUS: Keefus Ciancia • CAST: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving

 

The sweeping Australian outback has been long employed by filmmakers to provide a glimpse into a notion of national identity through a distinctive narrative formula. Rooted in a particular space and ideology, the outback’s terrain radiates a utopian sense of belonging through an intimate relationship to the landscape, while its transformative powers manifest when the curious and the beguiled attempt to penetrate this alien landscape, their notable cultural difference perceived to threaten existing order. The mythical freedom embodied by the outback is metamorphosed into a dystopian, dehydrated desert, where marked outsiders, punished for such difference, must negotiate an unforgiving landscape in order to survive.

Strangerland is the debut feature by Kim Farrant, starring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes. In a psychological thriller meets suspense drama meets melodrama, the film tells the story of a married couple who relocate to a remote village in the outback with their two teenage children under dubious circumstances. As they struggle to control their promiscuous daughter’s behaviour and son’s insomniac, nocturnal wanderings, their strained marriage is further tested when the teenagers disappear and the couple must overcome their emotional distance to unearth the mystery of their children’s fate.

On the surface, Strangerland adheres to the generic criteria of a contemporary Australian outback thriller. Aesthetically, the arid, bleak landscape has never looked so enticing nor the locals so unnervingly feral, providing the perfect backdrop from which to plant a sweaty-palmed, suspense thriller. The film’s style, however, proves to be the only commendable element of Farrant’s debut and the director’s inexperience, as she toys with generic hybridization, is clearly evident as the promise of spine-chilling suspense takes a wild, underwhelming narrative detour, resulting in a rather messy affair.

The mysterious disappearance of two teenage newcomers, already marked as subversive by simply being outsiders, sets up the formulaic plot, from which a jaded couple must overcome their own marginalized status to find their children with the help of an eerily cagey community. A shift in focus from a potentially jittery thriller to a humdrum, psychological analysis of a dislocated family becomes the narrative driving force and given the rich backdrop, it appears a great opportunity has been severely missed.

Farrant has stated that the story is inspired by her overwhelming grief at her father’s death and while Kidman and Fiennes provide credible character studies on two opposing reactions to loss, the framing of the narrative does not gel with its anticipated plot. Lured into the promise of a dystopian nightmare in an intimidating landscape initially conforms to the generic outback narrative. Rather than focus on the hindrances the hostilities between the couple and community produce, which is one of the most crucial elements of the genre, the disintegration of the family takes centre stage, eradicating the suspenseful pulse of the thriller, becoming a misconceived deviation, which simply does not work. The dark, sexual undertones, which are intended to motivate the disappearance and search, never really gel with the direction of the script, the lurid secret revealed all too late without conviction, losing any impact it should have had and severely stifling the lead performances.

A frustrated housewife trapped in a loveless marriage as her children mysteriously disappear, should provide Kidman with enough scope to explore a range of emotional entanglements. The excessive psychological behaviour produced by her grief, however, appears misplaced within a narrative that has greatly detoured from its original intention and Kidman appears on the whole, at a loss. Her emotional episodes would be more justifiable if the plot remained located within the more conventional outback thriller narrative and aligned with the obstacles produced by the outback rather than her frustrations within the family and as such, she just becomes irrationally mad. Fiennes also suffers the same fate but standing in contrast to Kidman’s excessive fragility, his explosive, irrational bursts of violence and rage, just place him as psychotically dangerous. While the searing landscape forces the couple to confront their own fundamental flaws as humans, the cause for the couple’s psychological torment through a wishy-washy past does not align with the ensuing effects, leaving an overall jagged narrative within a film already suffering from a glaring identity crisis.

Despite the efforts of the film’s two leads, Strangerland is a disappointingly, misplaced attempt to refresh a tried and tested formula, a formula which provides a great introspective on Australian identity and culture. Farrant may attempt to explore a host of relevant socio-cultural issues, including the reconfiguration of the family, however, her failure to engage with the crucial elements of the outback narrative, by underinvesting in cultural differences between the family and community, is the film’s fundamental flaw. The lack of exploration of the antagonism such cultural difference ignites, makes it difficult to relate to the characters’ psychological transformations, resulting in a highly frustrating, vague and forgettable result.

                      Dee O’Donoghue

 15A (See IFCO for details)

 111 minutes

Strangerland is released 5th February 2016

 

Strangerland – Official Website

 

 

 

Share

Podcast Interview: Michael Kinirons, co-writer of ‘Strangerland’

MK Headshot Bw

 

Jonathan Victory talks to Michael Kinirons about co-writing the Australian-Irish drama suspense film Strangerland, directed by Kim Farrant.

The film stars Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, whose two teenage children disappear into the remote Australian desert, pushing their relationship to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children’s fate.

Strangerland is in cinemas from 5th February 2016

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Soundcloud

Subscribe on Stitcher

Subscribe to the Film Ireland RSS feed
 

 

Share

Review of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh: Strangerland

images

Deirdre Molumby checks out the Irish/Australian co-production Strangerland, which screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

Strange by name and strange by nature, Kim Farrant’s debut is a confident, dramatic, suspenseful thriller that is well-acted but frustratingly ambiguous.

The Parker family have recently moved to a remote desert town called Natgari in Australia. While the children express a sense of restlessness – the youngest, Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton), wanders around the town at night while teenager Lily (Maddison Brown) gets very friendly with the local young men – the parents try their best to fit in. The father, Matthew (Joseph Fiennes), works as a pharmacist while Catherine (Nicole Kidman) is a stay-at-home mother who discovers one day, to her horror, that the children are missing. After the town is searched from top to bottom, the prospect that the children have disappeared into the desert outback becomes more probable, and every day their chance of survival rapidly diminishes.

In spite of what seems to be the set-up of old movie clichés – a family moves into a small town and tries to fit in, the kids start a new school, a family secret is apparent – there is more to the story than meets the eye. The promiscuous nature of the teenaged Lily sets her up as far from a helpless, innocent, victimised young girl. First seen only in her underwear as she openly flirts with a worker in her house in front of her father, her open sexuality is quite shocking, and even more so given she looks like she has only just hit puberty. Both Lily and Tommy are attractive children, which only makes their prospective fates in the desert landscape all the more daunting. Another key player in the plot is local cop David Rae (Hugo Weaving), who intends to be helpful and to be a good cop. However, the balance between protecting the Parkers and having long-standing relationships with several of the locals leads to difficult compromises.

At the heart of the drama are parents Catherine and Matthew, played respectively by Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes. While Catherine quickly disintegrates into emotional trauma by the events surrounding the children’s disappearance, the character of Matthew is far more enigmatic and stoic towards what is happening. Both go through major transitions, and the children’s disappearance reveals several facts about their parents’ marriage and relationship, the town and those who live there, and repressed desires.

While the younger cast are impressive, it is the trio of Weaving, Kidman and Fiennes who are the key to the film and all give stellar performances. The changing dynamics that occur both within and between the characters is indispensable to the film’s tension, which holds the audience from start to finish. Strangerland does, however, suffer from a fairly predictable plot as well as an awkward balance between trying to be both arthouse and accessible cinema. Having built up to what promises to be a dramatic, fitting finale, the film’s final scenes seem to be more interested in shocking the audience and subsequently leaving them freewheeling rather than providing catharsis. The ambiguity that characterises the film ultimately does not seem to be so much an artistic decision as lack of assertiveness on the part of the writers. The acting saves it.

 

 

Strangerland screened on Wednesday, 8th July as part of the Galway Film Fleadh (7 – 12 July 2015)

 

Share

Sydney Film Festival: ‘Strangerland’ Review

strangerland-trailer

 

Glen Falkenstein reports from Sydney’s Irish Film Festival (3 – 14 June), which screened the Irish co-production Strangerland, coscripted by Irish screenwriter Michael Kinirons and starring Nicole Kidman.

 

“I was interested in the theme of how we deal with life when crisis hits us… What happens when you move to a remote place and your kids go missing, every parent’s nightmare.”

Strangerland director Kim Farrant addressed a crowd of fans following a sold-out screening at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. An Irish-Australian co-production, Farrant explains Strangerland’s “Irish connection,” was crucial in getting the film off the ground.

Staying in Berlin, a friend told Farrant to pitch the script to an acquaintance who later became one of the film’s co-producers, telling her “I know this Irish guy he’d really like it.” That producer sent the treatment on to the Irish Film Board who “loved it,” the producer later telling an ecstatic Farrant, “Ireland wants to fund your film.”

A landmark co-production between the two countries, Strangerland benefited from a diverse crew, with several co-producers and key filmmakers drawn from both Ireland and Australia.

“We had this foreign element which attracted P.J. Dillon who shot the landscape from the perspective of a stranger,” said Farrant, commenting on the film’s award-winning cinematographer. According to Farrant, Dillon was incredibly unusual and talented,” just the right DOP to shoot the film about two parents, who, having recently moved to a small town, are confronted with the land’s devastating challenges, a production heavily underscored with themes of isolation and unfamiliarity. “He was able to see the light in this country and photograph it in a different way, as a stranger.”

Set and filmed entirely in a rural Australian town, Strangerland follows the search of parents Catherine and Matthew Parker (Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) for their two children when they disappear and a massive dust storm hits. Detective David Rae (Hugo Weaving) is charged with investigating the case, impacting many of the residents of the small town as tensions mount between the parents. Suspicions are raised, driving both Catherine and Matthew to cope with the fall-out in very different ways.

Farrant’s focus on Catherine’s feelings of grief and hopelessness drove much of Strangerland, resulting in an eerie, disquieting and all-round consuming tale of two estranged parents coping with the loss of their children. The performances from Weaving and Kidman in particular were practiced and immediately impactful. As the characters steepen into fear, panic and at times hysteria, the very visceral racial and sexual tensions between the characters came to the forefront, resulting in several tense and confronting sequences. No small part of the film, the relationship of both Indigenous Australians and the recent arrivals to the land played a crucial role, driving much of the dramatic tension.

“I realised I don’t know my land, I’m a white Australian,” said Farrant. “I wasn’t taught growing up to tune into the land, to listen to it… We spoke with Aboriginal elders… We started getting an understanding of the land and its original owners.”

For the Parkers, their lack of familiarity with the land, and fear of it, proved devastating when their children went missing. “Let’s put them in a place where they’ll fear the land,” Farrant commented. “Its unknown to them.

Following the screening, Farrant drew on her own experiences, including the death of a loved one at the age of 22, to explain how grief and loss can often drive the desire and pursuit of sex, a central theme in the film. “Sex is a very primal act and in the face of loss… when you make love and have sex you feel very alive. It’s a fascinating polarity, feeling alive when you feel like dying.”

Farrant explained that “She (Catherine) was a character in her own right with her own needs and backstory and she went on a massive arc… she was exposed, skinless, she couldn’t cover so much of herself up and Nicole (Kidman) loved that.”

Ultimately, Farrant admitted, it was [the desire to] “look at the darker side of our psyches, our tragic flaws”, that she wanted to explore.

Strangerland took 13 years to complete from inception; a stellar first feature for Farrant, who managed to secure a number of A-listers over its long production-run, in spite of it being her first feature-length film.

A taut and thoroughly engaging thriller, Strangerland screened as part of this year’s Sydney Film Festival.

 

Glen writes film reviews, features, commentary and covers local festivals and events. Glen lives in Sydney. He tweets @GlenFalkenstein

Share

Australia and Ireland Partnering on Film

strangerland-trailer

 

With the imminent release of Strangerland, Glen Falkenstein takes a look at the production partnership between Ireland and Australia.

Co-operation between the Irish and Australian film industries is set to reach a milestone this year, with the release of Strangerland following on the back of various co-productions between the two countries.

Supported by Screen Australia and the Irish Film Board, Strangerland follows a couple (Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) whose children disappear in the Australian desert right before a massive dust storm arrives at their town. Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) plays the policeman charged with bringing them home.

Co-written by Irish screenwriter Michael Kinirons, the production was filmed in various locations in rural Australia, including Canowindra, a town with a population of about 2,000. Producer Macdara Kelleher commented, “It’s great to be able to bring such talented Irish crew including cinematographer P J Dillon, sound recordist Rob Flanagan… as well as many others, as part of the Irish-Australian co-production.”

Strangerland screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will see its Australian premiere at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival in June.

Co-operation between the two industries has not been limited to productions but has also included cultural exchanges. Earlier this year, the inaugural Irish Film Festival took place in Sydney to great success and looks set to continue next year. The festival, which featured a number of Australian premieres, screened An Dubh Ina Gheal (Assimilation), which explored the existence of Indigenous Irish Australians and the dispossession of Australia’s Indigenous population.

In 1998, both Ireland and Australia signed a co-production treaty to help foster film and television projects, including drama, documentary and animation features.

Strangerland is not the only Irish production to premiere at the Sydney Film Festival – Song of the Sea, a hand-drawn animation feature inspired by Celtic folklore will be screened multiple times throughout the festival’s 12-day run. Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, Tomm Moore’s latest, according to the festival organisers, still weeks away from its June start date, will be one of the first films to sell out.

 

Glen writes film reviews, features, commentary and covers local festivals and events. Glen lives in Sydney. He tweets @GlenFalkenstein

 

Share