Irish Films in Cinema 2015

 

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11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski)

4th December

 

The lives of urbanites intertwine in a world where anything can happen at any time.

Reviewed here

 

The Hallow (Corin Hardy)

13th November

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A family who move into a remote milllhouse in Ireland find themselves in a fight for survival with demonic creatures living in the woods.

Reviewed here

 

Night People (Gerard Lough)

13th November

A pair of professional but badly mismatched criminals break into a vacant house to carry out an insurance scam. Awkwardly thrown together with an hour to kill, they reluctantly start telling each other tall tales.

Reviewed here

 

Brooklyn (John Crowley)

6th November

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Set in the early 1950s, Brooklyn is the story of a young woman, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn, NY where, unlike home, she has the opportunity for work and for a future – and love, in the shape of Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen).  When a family tragedy brings her back to Ireland, she finds herself absorbed into her old community, but now with eligible Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) courting her.  As she repeatedly postpones her return to America, Eilis finds herself confronting a terrible dilemma – a heart-breaking choice between two men and two countries.

Brooklyn is adapted from Colm Tóibín’s New York Times Bestseller by Nick Hornby  and directed by John Crowley.

Reviewed here

 

The Legend Of Longwood (Lisa Mulcahy)

23rd October

 

When 12-year-old Mickey Miller moves with her family from New York to Ireland, she soon discovers a mysterious link between herself and the 300-year-old legend of the mysterious Black Knight, who regularly haunts the sleepy Irish village of Longwood. With her new best friend in tow, Mickey sets out to redeem the knight while saving a precious herd of white horses and thwarting the evil plans of a greedy, ambitious woman  – a mighty handful even for the bravest girl.

Reviewed here

 

The Queen Of Ireland (Conor Horgan)

21st October

 

Conor Horgan’s documentary follows Rory O’Neill’s journey from the small Mayo town of Ballinrobe to striding the world stage. The film takes us behind the scenes with his alter ego Panti in the year she became the symbol of Ireland’s march towards marriage equality.

Reviewed here

 

The Hit Producer (Kevin de la Isla)

 

A struggling movie producer in search of an investor reluctantly follows the promise of money into Dublin’s drug underworld where she witnesses a botched murder attempt.

 

The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)

16th October

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The Lobster is a love story set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel.  There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days.  If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods.  A desperate Man escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules.

Reviewed here

 

Talking to My Father (Sé Merry Doyle)

16th October

 

Talking to my Father features two voices from two eras each concerned with how we as a nation understand the architecture that surrounds our lives. Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early sixties and one of its most celebrated and influential figures was Robin Walker.

Reviewed here

 

Tana Bana (Pat Murphy)

9th October

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In Varanasi, the uneasy peace between Hindu and Moslem hinges on the world renowned silk weaving.  The existence of this ancient Hindu city depends upon Moslem weavers.

Reviewed here

 

Ghosthunters – On Icy Trails (Tobi Baumann)

2nd October

 

Based on the bestselling novel “Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost” by Cornelia Funke, Ghosthunters – On Icy Trails, which features Amy Huberman, follows a young boy Tom who discovers an ASG, an Averagely Spooky Ghost called Hugo in his cellar.  He soon realizes that Hugo is not only completely harmless, but also desperately needs his help. Hugo cannot go back to his haunted house, because a dangerous AIG, an Ancient Ice Ghost, has moved in and is spreading an arctic cold over the entire town in the middle of summer. Tom and Hugo go to professional ghost-hunter Hetty Cuminseed, who doesn’t like children or ghosts very much, and who just lost her job at the CGI, the Central Ghosthunting Institute. Hetty teaches Tom and Hugo the basics of ghost-hunting and the three become an unusual team: only with friendship, courage and self-confidence can they overcome their adversary and save the town from the AIG.

Reviewed here

 

Older Than Ireland (Alex Fegan)

25th September

 

Older Than Ireland features thirty men and women aged 100 years and over. Often funny and at times poignant, the film explores each centenarian’s journey, from their birth at the dawn of Irish independence to their life as a centenarian in modern day Ireland. Older Than Ireland ‘s observational style offers a rare insight into the personal lives of these remarkable individuals.

Reviewed here

 

Pursuit (Paul Mercier)

18th September

A modern take on the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne – a contemporary myth about the pursuit of power, class, love and the chance to start again.

Reviewed here

 

The Callback Queen (Graham Cantwell)

11th September

 

In the cut-throat London film industry a vivacious actress chasing her big break struggles to maintain her integrity in the face of the director’s advances

 

The Great Wall ( Tadhg O’Sullivan)

21st August

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This bold new documentary, an adaptation of a Kafka story, looks at the enclosure of Europe by a complex system of walls and fences. Mysterious and visually dazzling, the film journeys across a range of European landscapes, and encounters those whose lives are defined by these walls – detainees within European migrant camps. [IFI Programme Notes]

Reviewed here

 

A Doctor’s Sword (Gary Lennon)

7th August

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Tells the incredible story of Aidan MacCarthy, a young doctor from West Cork who survived some of the most harrowing episodes of World War II (including the atomic bombing of Nagasaki) and his family’s search to uncover the origin of the Japanese Samurai sword, which now resides in MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere.

 

 

You’re Ugly Too (Mark Noonan)

10th July

 

Will (Aidan Gillen) is released from prison on compassionate leave to care for his niece Stacey after the death of her mother. As they both head into the sleepy Irish midlands and attempt to be a family, they suffer a series of setbacks; Stacey is refused admission to the local school because of her recently developed narcolepsy; Will repeatedly comes close to breaking his prison-ordered curfew; and his attempts at being a father figure to her prove disastrous…As their future hangs in the balance they must search for a new way forward together.

Reviewed here

 

 

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore)

10th July

Tomm Moore’s Oscar-nominated animated feature tells the story of the last Seal Child’s journey home. After their mother’s disappearance, Ben and Saoirse are sent to live with Granny in the city. When they resolve to return to their home by the sea, their journey becomes a race against time as they are drawn into a world Ben knows only from his mother’s folktales. But this is no bedtime story; these fairy folk have been in our world far too long. It soon becomes clear to Ben that Saoirse is the key to their survival.

Reviewed here

 

Let Us Prey (Brian O’Malley)

12th June

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Rachel, a rookie cop, is about to begin her first nightshift in a neglected police station in a Scottish, backwater town. The kind of place where the tide has gone out and stranded a motley bunch of the aimless, the forgotten, the bitter-and-twisted who all think that, really, they deserve to be somewhere else. They all think they’re there by accident and that, with a little luck, life is going to get better. Wrong, on both counts. Six is about to arrive – and All Hell Will Break Loose!

Reviewed here

 

Queen and Country (John Boorman)

12th June

The sequel to Boorman’s 1987 Academy Award®-nominated picture, Queen and Country takes place in 1952. Bill Rohan is eighteen years old, dreaming his life away at the family’s riverside home, waiting to be called up for two years’ conscription in the British Army. His idyll is shattered by the harsh realities of boot camp. He meets Percy, an amoral prankster; they are rivals and antagonists, but they gradually forge a deep friendship in the claustrophobic environment of a closed, prison-like training camp. The pressure is briefly relieved by excursions into the outside world, where they both fall in love. Finally, Bill is confronted with the shattered lives of wounded boys returning from Korea.

Reviewed here

 

Fortune’s Wheel (Joe Lee)

5th June

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Fortune’s Wheel is a documentary feature film about Bill Stephens, an ordinary young man in 1950s Ireland with an extraordinary ambition: to become an international circus star.  It is also a love story about Bill and his young and beautiful wife May, from East Wall.  Their double act, Jungle Capers, Bill Stephens and Lovely Partner, was a series of death-defying feats with a troupe of lions and dogs designed to thrill audiences in the circus tent and on the stage.  With this act they hoped to break free from the suffocating reality of Irish life, but things went terribly wrong when, in November 1951, one of their animals escaped.
The story gained national and international attention at the time, but it is only now – after 60 years of silence – that two families and a community have come together to tell the story in full.

Reviewed here

 

The Canal (Ivan Kavanagh)

8th May

Set in rural Ireland, The Canal stars Rupert Evans as David, a film archivist with a morbid fascination for old films in which the subjects have since died. Right after learning that his wife may be cheating on him, she mysteriously disappears at the same time that his assistant Claire finds an old reel of film that points to a murder that took place in his house a hundred years ago. David starts to suspect her disappearance may involve some form of the supernatural but he also quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Reviewed here

 

Get Up & Go (Brendan Grant)

1st May

A slacker comedy which chronicles a hectic 24 hours in the life of would-be comedian Coilin (Killian Scott) and frustrated musician Alex (Peter Coonan). When Alex’s girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant, he refuses to allow her to derail his long-held plan to escape to London. Meanwhile the hapless Coilin is striking out on stage and off, as he attempts to get his faltering comedy career off the ground and win the heart of his dream girl. With time ticking down to Alex’s departure, the mismatched pair will be forced to confront the reality of their childhood dreams of artistic greatness while their lifelong friendship is tested to the limit.

Reviewed here

 

Two by Two (Toby Genkel, Sean McCormack)

1st May

It’s the end of the world. A flood is coming. Luckily for Finny and his dad Dave, a couple of clumsy Nestrians, an Ark has been built and all animals are welcome… well almost all. Unfortunately for them, Nestrians are not on the list! But Dave has a plan, and Finny and he manage to sneak onto the Ark disguised as Grymps – much to the horror of real Grymps, Hazel and her daughter Leah.

However their troubles are just beginning as the two curious youngsters end up falling over board. Now Finny and Leah have to brave the elements in their quest to find higher ground while fighting off hungry predators and making unlikely friends. Meanwhile on board the Ark the parents must set aside their differences and hatch a plan to turn the boat around and make it back in time to rescue their kids.

Reviewed here

 

Glassland (Gerard Barrett)

17th April

In in a desperate bid to save his mother from addiction and unite his broken family, a young taxi driver on the fringes of the criminal underworld is forced to take a job which will see him pushed further into its underbelly. But will John be prepared to act when the time comes knowing that whatever he decides to do, his and his family’s lives will be changed forever.

Reviewed here

 

 I Used To Live Here (Frank Berry)

3rd April

I Used To Live Here follows Amy Keane, a 13-year-old trying to cope with the death of her mother and the reappearance of her father’s ex-girlfriend, who experiences the temptation of suicide after witnessing the outpouring of love for a local suicide victim. The film takes a fictional look at how the idea of suicide can spread in communities, particularly among young people.

Reviewed here

 

In A House That Ceased To Be (Ciarín Scott)

13th March

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q9aesjHjeU

A documentary that focuses on Irish humanitarian and children’s rights activist Christina Noble, whose unwavering commitment and selfless efforts have seen her change the lives of countless children and families for the better since 1989. Her drive stems from a childhood in Ireland fraught with poverty, loss and institutional abuse. However, despite achieving so much in the face of adversity and the success of her global children’s foundation, Christina remains scarred by the memory of the three children she was unable to save, namely her own brother and two sisters, from whom she was separated at a very young age. Hundreds of thousands have benefitted as a result of her courage, daring and steadfast dedication to protecting the vulnerable from the evils of the world, but is it possible for Christina to put her own family back together after being separated for fifty-three years?

 

Patrick’s Day (Terry McMahon) 

6th February

 

 

A young man with mental health issues becomes intimate with a suicidal air hostess, but his obsessive mother enlists a dysfunctional cop to separate them.

Reviewed here

 

Apples of the Golan (Keith Walsh & Jill Beardsworth)

16th January

The epic story of one village in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Before the Six Day War, Majdal Shams was one of 139 villages in the Golan Heights region. Only five remain. Over 130,000 Syrian Arabs were forced from their homes never to return. Amongst those who remain a stoic pragmatism prevails, Israel their home, Syria their homeland. Neither is paradise. They are too few to fight. The apples are the people’s bombs.

Reviewed here

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Review: The Canal

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DIR/WRI: Ivan Kavanagh • PRO: AnneMarie Naughton • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Robin Hill • MUS: Ceiri Torjussen • DES: Stephanie Clerkin • CAST: Rupert Evans, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra, Steve Oram

Following on from his bizarrely demented and macabre film Tin Can Man (2007), The Canal sees Irish writer, director and film festival favourite Ivan Kavanagh’s fifth feature entering the realm of horror once again. Less idiosyncratic and shadowing a more traditional narrative paradigm than Tin Can Man, The Canal is a self-conscious and unnerving supernatural horror and fully aware of its lineage within the genre, strategically appropriates from its cinematic predecessors and remains faithful to its cinematic form. Such self-awareness would therefore suggest a more accessible narrative to its audience and yet, it is as a result of this familiarity that Kavanagh is able to assemble a horror film that is instantly recognisable and formulaic, yet refreshingly contemporary, intelligent and immersive, which does not fail to startle, ruffle and hugely disconcert.

Placid film archivist David (Rupert Evans) and his pregnant wife, Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) move into a charming, old house and five years on, along with their son, appear to live a reasonably contented life. When David is asked to view some archive police footage from a 1902 murder, he fearfully recognises his house as the murder scene where a man brutally murdered his wife and deposited her body in the local canal. His angst is further heightened when he suspects Alice of having an affair and when she fails to return home one night and her body is pulled from the canal, David becomes prime suspect. As he sets about finding the true killer, supernatural forces impede his efforts, catapulting David into a hypnotic mindscape of psychological paranoia.

In a sort of Paranormal Activity meets The Shining and The Babadook vein, The Canal is elevated from becoming another lethargic, disposable horror film by Kavanagh’s intellectual investment into his narrative, whereby the plot unfolds through the eyes of a personable man, whose steady mental decline not only mirrors but also exceeds the impetus of the most horrific and supernatural elements of the film. By consciously evoking repetitive signifiers of horror and arousing a feeling of nostalgia through pastiche, Kavanagh artfully lures and provokes his audience into a sense of recognition and predictability before assaulting them with the psychological annihilation of the film’s protagonist. Such narrative scaremongering fuses the horrific with the psychological, melds the past with the present and unveiled through a traditional narrative structure, blurs the boundaries between reverie and reality, creating a pulsating platform for the prolonged mental erosion of both protagonist and audience.

Mirroring The Canal’s cinematic heritage within the horror genre, David’s obsession with connecting Alice’s death with the deaths of the past, leads him to conclude that he is merely the next link in a long lineage of supernatural events in the house, which have returned to wreak further havoc and may not necessarily end with him. Kavanagh elicits motifs from supernatural horror Paranormal Activity, whereby David uses an old film camera to not only gather supernatural evidence, but also to demonstrate an appeal from the director to look to the past and reinvest in the genre as it increasingly appears to being devoured by cinema itself.

Rupert Evans’ performance as David is alarming in the shift from unassuming and tender husband and father to demonic neurotic and delusional obsessive. His performance is excruciatingly palpable and prickly; his decent into a nightmarish madness jolts and jerks far more perturbingly than any of the blood-spattered apparitions haunting the house. Hannah Hoekstra, as David’s seductive Dutch wife, extends beyond the archetypal horror beauty and mirroring David’s schizophrenic tendencies, invests great emotional malleability, oscillating between attentive wife and mother to deceiving adulteress with chilling ease. The two supporting characters skilfully bolster and sedate David and Alice’s overwhelmingly burdened performances. Antonia Campbell-Hughes as Claire sobers the overall intensity, her understated pragmatism the perfect foil to the psychotic madness. Steve Oram, as the quintessential Cockney copper, brings an equally law-abiding practicality to the narrative and compliments Claire’s skepticism as he attempts to remain outside the psychopathic minefield and remain inside the realm of rationality.

Piers McGrail’s moody cinematography jerkily vacillates between David’s four core spaces of calm; the house, canal, film archive rooms and his own mind, to a shattering of such oases of tranquillity, which explode into tense and suffocating pockets of bloody carnage and gore. The murky, putrid, and suffocating ambience, underpinned by a knowing spine-chilling score, cuts through the stillness of perceived normality to become an ominously fluorescent and hauntingly shadowy milieu, as the architects of David’s malaise haunt and taunt him into further preternatural torment, leaving both David and the audience with nowhere to go but remain locked inside this psychotic mindscape.

Although horror may be conventionally located as a low-cultural genre, The Canal is an intelligent revision of familiar horror and supernatural formulas, which, by littering the narrative with recognisable signifiers, instils a sense of familiarity to its audience before perversely steering the narrative into an unknown realm. By flirting with conventional haunted-house tropes which distort the perceptions of both genres, the film engages, intimidates and strikes terror on a whole new level, demonstrating that the horror and supernatural genres are far from dead.

Dee O’Donoghue

16 (See IFCO for details)

93 minutes
The Canal is released 8th May 2015

The Canal – Official Website

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Interview: Ivan Kavanagh, wri/dir of ‘The Canal’

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The Canal introduces us to cinema archivist David and his family who move into a period house by a canal. Despite dismissing rumours that the house is being haunted, David starts having nightmarish visions when he suspects his wife is cheating.

Shane Hennessy caught up with writer/director Ivan Kavanagh to find out more about his latest horror film.

 

Where did the idea for the story in The Canal come from?

Well, I suppose I thought that a cinema archivist would make a great protagonist for a film, as he investigates for a living. Also I’m really into early cinema as well so I really wanted to recreate those old films, for years I’ve been trying to get the look of those films right. We tried a range of different film formats. We finally found that using a camera from 1915 with 35mm film running through it worked great. It came out with the exact look that I wanted. Also, a cinema archivist has probably seen every horror film ever made, so all his nightmares and dreams would be coloured by other films. I felt it could be very expressionistic and allow me to take the medium as far as I wanted to go.

Sounds plays a crucial role in The Canal. It’s very authentic. The music has a Carpenter-like texture to it. Did you have much input with the score?

Yeah, I wanted a very particular sound. I’m big into 20th century classical music and I wanted something that was very contemporary. What I liked about Ceiri Torjussen (the film’s composer) was that he did a lot of classical concert music and I knew that if could incorporate that into my film that it’d be perfect. Also I told him I wanted music that didn’t sound like music as such, so that it would blend with the sound design. Him and the sound designers worked hand in hand and we actually spent more time with the sound design and score than we did with the visual editing of the film. For me, sound is equally as important as the visuals in a film. The guys at Egg Post Production Dublin were fantastic collaborators, they worked for months on the sound and it’s an experience to hear it in the cinema.

The horror genre has a modern perception of being somewhat formulaic, is there an obligation to address those conventions by subverting them or do you prefer starting from a completely blank slate?

With David being a cinema archivist, it makes sense that it would begin with the most overused horror trope there is – he moves into a house where a murder took place in the past. And it seems to me that I could go from there and play with the genre. Maybe it happened in his head but maybe it’s real, but because of his obsession with cinema his mind is filled with these horror conventions.

The main character is haunted by obsession more so than anything else. It’s as though grief is presented as this force in his life rather than something otherworldly. Was it difficult to harness that ambiguity?

Well, any good horror movies are rarely about what they seem to be about. There’s always subtext. It was really hard to get that into the script, that balance between what’s real and what he’s imagining. Then when we got to the editing we got reinvent it again, in the shooting as well. Me and Rupert (Evans, playing the main character) had to take a stance on what was happening, but I wanted to leave it to the audience. My favorite films allow the viewer to take away a different interpretation to someone else. I’ve heard so many different opinions of what happened in the film, which means the balance worked. We tested the film with random people, we knew from getting different reactions. I myself have my own idea of what is happening, but anyone who’s seen it has an equally valid opinion.

What areas of the story did you carry out the most research on?

I’ve always been a cinema obsessive. So my research is instinct, mostly. I talked to a couple of psychologists about symptoms of psychosis and someone who is going into a psychogenic fugue, where they re-imagine their whole reality. What I really honed in on was the old films. Particularly Feeding the Baby from Lumiere. The background from that film is beautiful. It’s just trees growing in the wind with Lumiere feeding his baby. It’s the way the celluloid reacts to what’s happening within it, it’s so unique and you can’t capture it with modern stocks. So when we got the prints back from the 1915 camera, it was almost identical. As far as research goes, I like to look at paintings that help me to get into the state of mind. I don’t like to re-watch films. But if you’ve seen as many films as I have, it’s hard not to be influenced by them. In a way, the film is a love letter to all those films I loved growing up, films that scared me over the years as a kid – the ones I shouldn’t have been watching!

It’s fascinating that the old celluloid couldn’t be replicated on digital media. Is it something you fear for with the way cinema is going?Well, we tried digital, tried all sort of film stocks. Some came close, but people could easily tell them apart. I love shooting with film, if I could shoot everything that way I would. With digital you really have to work for the look of the film, the grade and all the rest of it. With film, as soon as it comes back from the lab, it’s interesting. Even the mistakes are beautiful. It’s the mistakes that you’re after! It’s the edge fogging, it’s the grain. I did a test years ago for a short film I was making, I didn’t rack the film properly and it was flickering as it went through the shutter. When it came back it had this ghostly effect. Pure mistake, but it was beautiful. I really miss that about film and nothing about digital allows that to happen.

Who would you say were your main contemporary influences?

Well, look-wise we looked at Don’t Look Now, and also Eyes Wide Shut. I love the way Kubrick uses expressionistic colours in that movie. That moonlighting scene (in Eyes Wide Shut) is just unrealistic, it’s a dream film. The moon in unnatural blue, the Christmas lights are fluorescent. As The Canal continues it becomes more unrealistic, we planned the colour palette of the film as it went along. So as we reach the end we used harsher reds. We didn’t have any natural light for many of the final scenes so it just came out of the blue. The Canal is a film of the mind, so it seemed completely right. Also, we looked at Susperia (1977), and some other Argento films. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s Black Narcissus (1947) also, especially the flashes to red, green and yellow. I wanted to use colours expressionistically and unnaturally. It suited the character.

A word on the cast. The detective character (Steve Oram as Det McNamara) is the perfect asshole. Did you have a difficult time assembling such a good blend of people to play the roles?

Well the child (Calum Heath, playing Billy) was really difficult to cast. I didn’t want a “child” actor, I wanted a kid who could act. The casting director went to schools around Ireland and we auditioned about 200 kids and did improvisation and line readings. Eventually we found Calum, to play Billy. He was only 5 during production but seemed to have more natural acting ability then most actors I can remember working with. It was just astounding. Rupert (Evans, playing the main character) was the most difficult to cast as he needed to be handsome and attractive personality-wise, but also very vulnerable.  I saw him in Agora (2009), there’s a moment where he gives a line-reading that was completely unique. I thought that if he could give me a lot of those moments here, he’d be perfect. Then, once I spoke to him, he had the vulnerability that was needed for us to be with the character throughout the film. As far as the detective is concerned, because the main character is so influenced by movies, I think he needed to be the movie-est detective I could find! Steve (Oram) is like something out of The Sweeney. It may be a interpretation of what David thinks is happening as the story is told through his point of view. I’d seen him in Sightseers, he’s a master of improvisation. Rupert would always stick to his lines in their scenes together, but Steve would improvise around them. I wanted an international cast as I didn’t want the film to be grounded in any one country to keep the dream construct attached. If it’s set in Ireland it’s not an Ireland people would be accustomed to, it could be in London. So the casting took a long time.

What projects do you have coming up?

I’m working on a TV series with a US network. It’s a supernatural series and we’ve just finished writing the first episode. I can’t say too much more about it but it’s being announced to the press very soon. I’m also writing another psychological horror movie and there’s a few offers from America with regards to directing, so I’m just weighing everything up for now. The film was a success in America, critically and audiences seemed to really respond to it.

The Canal is in cinemas from 8th May 2015.

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The Canal – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

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Ruairí Moore stretches his legs along The Canal, Ivan Kavanagh’s latest nightmare, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

So much of what constitutes classic horror is bound up in style and aesthetic – with each successive slasher flick where the order and extent of grotesquery is generally ranked by ethnicity or attractiveness, the gateway to the true shock and awe that horror is capable of providing creaks a little further shut. With The Canal, Ivan Kavanagh plants a foot in the jamb and barrels the door wide open.

A loving father and husband, David (Rupert Evans) is surprised to learn that his new family home was once the scene of a series of horrific murders. Initially dismissive, the mild-mannered film archivist soon begins to question his sanity when the brutal images begin to insinuate themselves among the various aspects of his personal life.

Nothing ground-breaking, but then it is not the plot that will see audiences stuck to their seats. Kavanagh’s love of cinema is immediately evident; the hum of film-reel and the snap-hiss of the projection light are the first images to startle, and it’s a device the director returns to time and time again.

Where much modern horror subsists on jump-scares, The Canal opts for a much more humdrum brand of dread, where the everyday is an invasive force. Sound design is key here, the growl of coat-zippers and the sudden slamming of doors adding a more ominous dimension the haunted-house scenario.

Neither is Kavanagh afraid to let silence and space stretch, favouring largely static cinematography but for the odd tight zoom – the end result is a gathering sense of genuine dread that is a welcome tonic to the flimsy and fleeting hysteria that is the foundation of so much of the genre.

There is much and more that could be said of the cast, but suffice to say that newcomers Kelly Byrne and Calum Heath can’t help but steal the show, particularly in the funny and all-too-brief respites from the unrelenting force that is the rest of the film.

Raw, visceral and atmospheric, The Canal is one of the best horror films to grace Irish screens in far too long a time, and possibly the best these shores have ever produced. For those unmoved by patriotic sycophancies, a decent core workout is promised at the very least.

 

The Canal screened on Saturday, 28th March 2015 at The Light House Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Check out our reviews of the Irish films that screened at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

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Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film 2015

One of our favourite times of the year is upon us once more with the return of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Running from 19 – 29 March 2015, the 13th edition of the festival delivers another diverse and exciting programme of films from across the world. And, as always, amongst this year’s programme is a fantastic line-up of Irish films, which we’ve gathered below for your convenience, beginning with the festival’s opening film The Price Of Desire, Mary McGuckian’s beautiful depiction of Irish designer Eileen Gray.

Get booking and get watching.

 

 

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The Price Of Desire (Mary McGuckian)

Thursday, 19th March 2015

8:15PM

Savoy

Mary McGuckian’s The Price Of Desire,  about Irish designer and architecture pioneer Eileen Gray, opens this year’s festival. Starring Orla Brady, Vincent Perez and Francesco Scianna, the Irish-Belgian co-production is the controversial story of how Eileen Gray’s contribution to 20th century architecture was almost entirely effaced from history.

Mary McGuckian, Orla Brady, and Vincent Perez will attend the screening.

 

 

 

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Coming Home (Viko Nikci)

Saturday, 21st March 2015

4:00PM

Light House Cinema

Angel Cordero was charged with attempted murder following a stabbing in The Bronx . Despite the evidence, Angel was convicted and served thirteen years in prison. Seven years later, Dario Rodriguez confessed to the crime. We follow Angel as he is released into a new age of social communication and eventually confronts the man who took away his freedom. But he soon realizes that facing Dario is not his greatest challenge. Angel discovers that the most important thing taken away from him was the relationship with his daughter. At its heart, this is a story about a father’s journey to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

 

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From the Dark (Conor McMahon)

Light House Cinema

Saturday, 21st March 2015

8:30PM

From the Dark centres on a young couple on a road trip through the Irish countryside who encounter an ancient force of evil.

Filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

Reviewed here

 

 

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Eat Your Children (Treasa O’Brien, Mary Jane O’Leary)

Sunday, 22nd March 2015

2:00PM

Screen Cinema

Eat Your Children is a road-trip quest by two friends who emigrated from Ireland during the financial crash of 2008 and who have now returned to probe Ireland’s so-called acceptance of debt and austerity.

The film uses formal observational footage, voxpop, archive material and a visual-essay style to create a rich and accessible tapestry of audiovisual material. It immerses the viewer into world of the protagonist-film-makers – two Irish women living and working in London and Barcelona who return home to find themselves uncovering the modern incarnations of Irish identity, post-colonialism, nationalism, globalization and resistance.

Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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The Great Wall (Tadhg O’Sullivan )

Monday, 23rd March 2015

6:00PM

IFI

Filmmaker’s statement: ‘The Great Wall has been completed at its most southerly point.’ So begins Kafka’s short story ‘At the Building of the Great Wall of China’, and so, at Europe’s heavily militarised south-eastern frontier, begins this film.

In the shadow of its own narratives of freedom, Europe has been quietly building its own great wall. Like its famous Chinese precursor, this wall has been piecemeal in construction, diverse in form and dubious in utility. Gradually cohering across the continent, this system of enclosure and exclusion is urged upon a populace seemingly willing to accept its necessity and to contribute to its building.

From Europe’s edges, The Great Wall moves across various unidentified fortified landscapes, pausing with those whose lives are framed by borders and walls. Moving inward toward the seat of power, the film holds the European project up to a dazzling cinematic light, refracted through Kafka’s mysterious text, ultimately questioning the nature of power within Europe and beyond.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

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Talking to My Father (Sé Merry Doyle)

Tuesday, 24th March 2015

6:00PM

IFI

Talking to my Father features two voices from two eras each concerned with how we as a nation understand the architecture that surrounds our lives. Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early sixties and one of its most celebrated and influential figures was Robin Walker. Robin studied under le Corbusier in Paris as a young graduate and later worked alongside Mies van der Rohe in Chicago. His return to Ireland in 1958 coincided with the emergence of an aspiring modern nation recovering from years of stagnation and emigration. Robin Walker became a key agent in this nation-building process.

A quarter of a century after his premature death, Simon addresses his father again and explores the legacy of his life’s work.

Book tickets here

Reviewed here

 

 

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Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann)

Tuesday, 24th March 2015

6:15PM

Cineworld

Over the course of a midsummer night in Fermanagh in 1890, an unsettled daughter of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy encourages her father’s valet to seduce her. A co-production from Norway/UK/Ireland/France, Miss Julie stars Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell.

Book tickets here

 

 

 

 

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All About Eva (Ferdia Mac Anna)

Wednesday, 25th March 2015

6:00PM

Light House Cinema

All About Eva is an old-school thriller about a young woman seeking revenge upon a wealthy racing magnate whom she blames for destroying her family.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

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After the Dance (Daisy Asquith)

Thursday, 26th March 2015

8:00PM

Light House Cinema

Filmmaker Daisy Asquith tells the very personal story of her mother’s conception after a dance in the 1940s on the remote west coast of Ireland. Her grandmother, compelled to run away to have her baby in secret, handed the child over to ‘the nuns’. Daisy’s mum was eventually adopted by English Catholics from Stoke on Trent. Her grandmother returned to Ireland and told no-one. The father remained a mystery for another 60 years. Until Daisy and her mum decided it was time to find out who he was. Their desperate need to know takes them on a fascinating and moving adventure in social and sexual morality and the fear and shame that Catholicism has wrought on the Irish psyche for centuries, and connecting them with a brand new family living an extraordinarily different life.

Daisy Asquith will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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Dare to be Wild (Vivienne De Courcy)

Thursday, 26th March 2015

8:30PM

Light House Cinema

Dare to be Wild is the story of one woman who sowed the seed of change… It tells the extraordinary and inspiriting true story of Irishwoman Mary Reynold’s journey from rank outsider to winner of a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. Mary grew up with a strong affinity to the environment and a belief that somehow it was her destiny to use her talent as a designer to put environmental issues centre stage. Wild follows her journey from naive and impressionable ingenue to a impassioned and pioneering designer.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

 

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Glassland (Gerard Barrett)

Friday,  27th March 2015

6:30PM

Light House Cinema

In in a desperate bid to save his mother (Toni Colette) from addiction and unite his broken family, a young taxi driver (Jack Reynor) on the fringes of the criminal underworld is forced to take a job which will see him pushed further into its underbelly. But will John be prepared to act when the time comes knowing that whatever he decides to do, his and his family’s lives will be changed forever.

Gerard Barrett and Jack Reynor will attend the screening.

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Ten Years In The Sun (Rouzbeh Rashidi)

Friday, 27th March 2015

8:00PM

Light House Cinema

An assortment of obscure private obsessions, conspiracies and perversions flicker on the verge of inoherence against the context of vast cosmic disaster in Rouzbeh Rashidi’s boldest film to date. This sensory onslaught combines a homage to the subversive humour of Luis Buñuel and Joao Cesar Monteiro with the visionary scope of a demented science fiction epic.

Book tickets here

 

 

 

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Tana Bana (Pat Murphy)

Friday, 27th March 2015

8:40PM

Light House Cinema

Varanasi is the ancient city on the Ganges where Hindu pilgrims come to bathe at dawn and where cremation fires burn along the sacred river long after night has fallen. The city is also famous for the Moslem silk weavers whose ancestors traveled along the Silk Road and whose history is interwoven with that of their Hindu neighbours.

Loosely structured as a day in the life of Varanasi, this unique, intimate documentary explores how the Moslem community of weavers respond to huge economic shifts in their lives and shows the difficulties they face in passing on traditional weaving skills to their children. The film also gives voice to the changing roles of women within this enclosed world.

Pat Murphy will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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Let Us Prey (Brian O’Malley)

Friday, 27th March 2015

10:40PM

Light House Cinema

Rachel, a rookie cop, is about to begin her first nightshift in a neglected police station in a Scottish, backwater town. The kind of place where the tide has gone out and stranded a motley bunch of the aimless, the forgotten, the bitter-and-twisted who all think that, really, they deserve to be somewhere else. They all think they’re there by accident and that, with a little luck, life is going to get better. Wrong, on both counts. Six is about to arrive – and All Hell Will Break Loose!

Book tickets here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2fnLntATUo

 

 

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Yximalloo (Tadhg O’Sullivan, Feargal Ward)

Saturday, 28th March 2015

2:00PM

Light House Cinema

Naofumi ‘Yximalloo’ Ishimaru is an obscure cult musician, living and working on the fringes of music and society for all of his storied life. A self-taught, self-styled pioneer with a vast back-catalogue, Naofumi currently lives with his disabled civil partner in an anonymous, unfriendly cul-de-sac in a Dublin suburb. Torn between his loyalties to Gerry, his yearning for Japanese society and the dream of making his international music career pay, Naofumi endures a difficult year. Moving between Dublin and Tokyo, this touching portrait opens up the world of a deeply individual character to explore universal ideas of life, love and loneliness.

 

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Wheel Of Fortune: The Story And Legacy Of The Fairview Lion Tamer (Joe Lee)

Saturday, 28th March 2015

3:30PM

Light House Cinema

 

Filmmaker’s statement: Wheel of Fortune is a documentary feature film about Bill Stephens, an ordinary young man in 1950s Ireland with an extraordinary ambition: to become an international circus star. It is also a love story about Bill and his young and beautiful wife May, from East Wall. Their double act, Jungle Capers, Bill Stephens and Lovely Partner, was a series of death-defying feats with a troupe of lions and dogs designed to thrill audiences in the  circus tent and on the stage. With this act they hoped to break free from the suffocating reality of Irish life, but things went terribly wrong when, in November 1951, one of their animals escaped. The story gained national and international attention at the time, but it is only now – after 60 years of silence – that two families and a community have come together to tell the story in full.

The filmmakers will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

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The Canal (Ivan Kavanagh)

Saturday, 28th March 2015

8:30PM

Light House Cinema

Set in rural Ireland, The Canal stars Rupert Evans as David, a film archivist with a morbid fascination for old films in which the subjects have since died. Right after learning that his wife may be cheating on him, she mysteriously disappears at the same time that his assistant Claire finds an old reel of film that points to a murder that took place in his house a hundred years ago. David starts to suspect her disappearance may involve some form of the supernatural but he also quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Rupert Evans will attend the screening.

Book tickets here

 

 

You can check the full programme here

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The Canal – Review of Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh

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Cathy Butler enters the nightmare of Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal, which screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

Going into Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal knowing nothing about its plot or genre turned out to be quite an experience, as a complete lack of any preconceptions strengthened the film’s impact. Dark and disturbing, yet with moments of inexplicable humour, the film is a perfectly constructed voyage through one man’s nightmarish experiences.

 

David (Rupert Evans) is a happily married film archivist with a young son and a happy home – apparently. Through his work, David discovers old crime scene footage from 1902, showing his house as the location of a brutal murder. Soon after, David discovers his wife has been unfaithful. He begins to suffer from bizarre, horrifying visions, and his wife goes missing. When she turns up drowned in the canal near their home, her death is ruled accidental. However, David believes otherwise, and begins to pursue the connection between the 1902 murder and her death, ultimately starting down a path of horror and violence.

 

One of the main plot threads is familiar: a happy couple move into a home which turns out to have been the location of a turn of the century violent murder. Horror ensues. However, The Canal takes these tropes for what they are and plays with them and the audience, instilling doubt over David’s perspective on events. Kavanagh himself remarked in the Q&A following the screening that The Canal is a very self-aware film in this manner, taking such aspects of the horror genre and subverting them.

 

Editing and sound design come to the fore here. The form of the film reflects the content in a violent and visceral manner, time and again. Great use is made of the physical film which David uses as part of his job, film that is cut and spliced and wound at great speeds through reels. Such images are used in jarring cuts between scenes, emphasising the violence of the film in yet another self-aware aspect of the piece, implying further that what you are watching is a construct.

 

Sharp cuts in audio keep the audience on edge from start to finish. One particular aural cut on the sound of a zipper on a child’s bag is unnerving and jarring, yet is just an everyday object. Much of the horror of the film is presented in this way, as being part of banal aspects of David’s life, the ordinary places and things that he sees everyday. This only serves to further intensify the thread of foreboding that winds through the film.

 

The Canal is an expert blend of horror, mystery and psychological thriller, underpinned unexpectedly by moments of comedy. That such a film could maintain its ominous tone while injecting moments of humour is a testament to the director.  All this, along with its all too vivid imagery, makes The Canal a film that will linger long with the viewer, welcome or otherwise!

Click here for our coverage of Irish Film at the 26th Galway Film Fleadh (8 – 13 July, 2014)

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The Canal: Preview of Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh

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

The Canal

Sat 12th July

Town Hall Theatre

22.00

Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal introduces us to David, a film archivist who finds out the home he shares with his wife and son was the scene of a ghastly turn-of-the-century murder. At first he dismisses it as ancient history. That is, until the sinister history ripples into the present and casts a shadow over life as he knows it. And when a looming secret shatters his marriage, David can’t help but suspect the dark spirits of the house are somehow involved. In his drive to unveil the shadows hidden in the walls, David begins to descend into insanity, threatening the lives of everyone around him.

Through ghastly imagery and a chilling score, Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal is an Irish ghost story that will leave you with a fear of the dark and a dripping chill down your spine long after the film’s conclusion.

Kavanagh told Film Ireland that , “The film already screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April, where it got amazing reviews and was picked up for North American distribution, but I can’t wait to screen it at the Fleadh.  It’s an amazing festival and it’s always held great memories for me, and I’m sure this year and this screening will be no different.”

 

Director Ivan Kavanagh and actor Antonia Campbell Hughes will attend.

 

Director: Ivan Kavanagh

Cast: Rupert Evans, Steve Oram, Antonia Campbell Hughes, Kelly Byrne, Hannah Hoekstra, Calum Heath

Script: Ivan Kavanagh

Producer: AnneMarie Naughton

 

 

Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie.

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On ‘The Canal’

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Director Ivan Kavanagh tells Film Ireland how he wanted to make a frightening, highly visceral, cinematic experience. The result, The Canal, is screening at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

With The Canal I wanted to make a frightening, highly visceral, cinematic experience, where the sound and picture were of equal importance.  I also wanted to make the type of film that would linger in the mind of the audience long after they have seen it.

I also wanted to make a film that is almost 100% from one character’s point of view (David, played by Rupert Evans) and therefore what you are seeing is coloured by his interpretation of events. But the trouble is, he may be losing his mind and therefore what we are seeing may not be all that reliable, or else he’s telling the truth and what he’s experiencing may actually be supernatural after all. Which is why it’s very hard to talk about the film without giving anything away.

I have heard many different interpretations of what actually happens in this film, and as far as I’m concerned all of them are equally valid. My favourite type of films are those that leave room for the audience to dream, that don’t necessarily give us all the answers, and therefore these films can be watched and re-watched and each time you will get something new from them. This is what I was after with The Canal.

The look of the film was something that I had thought about for a long time. I wanted a very filmic look, with heightened primary colors that might be a throwback to films from the 1970s, like Don’t Look Now or Carrie and DOP Piers McGrail and I used Roeg’s film especially as a visual reference.

In all of my previous films, the sound design has played a huge part, and The Canal is no different. In fact, we spent as much time on the sound editing as we did on the picture editing, which is very unusual in film (or so I’m told). Aza Hand (the sound designer) and all the sound guys at EGG Post Production helped me achieve the highly complex multilayered soundtrack that I was after, which should hopefully rattle the nerves and live in the nightmares of people long after the screening at the Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The Canal screens on Saturday, 12th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 22.00 as part of the 26th Galway Film Fleadh (8 – 13 July, 2014)

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