Irish Films in Cinema 2016

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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

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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

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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)

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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..


 

 

 

 

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Irish Film Review: Viva

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DIR: Paddy Breathnach • WRI: Mark O’Halloran • PRO: Cathleen Dore, Rebecca O’Flanagan, Robert Walpole • DOP: Cathal Watters • ED: Stephen O’Connell • DES: Paki Smith • MUS: Stephen Rennicks • CAST: Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Luis Alberto García

 

What’s so very fantastic about Viva is how this movie is complete paradox: it’s a melodrama filled with gorgeous subtle moments; it’s a most depressing feel-good film; plus, it’s the least Irish Irish film gracing the big screen for some time.

 

Héctor Medina gives a quietly powerful performance as Jesus, a young hairdresser with a gig working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers. Living a meagre and solitary existence, Jesus finds his voice when his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García), gives him an opportunity to perform onstage. However, when Angel (Jorge Perugorría), his estranged father, returns after 20 years in prison, Jesus is forced to make a choice between his role as ‘Viva’ and forging a relationship with this angry, alcoholic stranger.

 
Writer Mark O’Halloran and Directer Paddy Breathnach form a formidable team with a piece of work so far removed from anything either has done before; both stylistically and alternatively, this film stands very far apart from a laugh-a-minute gangster comedy or the black conversational humour we’re used to. These huge overarching themes of poverty, loss, family and toxic masculinity are explored through Viva‘s complex, truthful characters and their dynamics. This, alongside Breathnach’s impressive visual dynamism, brings tension, energy and vibrancy to every scene.

The universality of this small, truthful story is told so well meaning absolutely nothing in Viva is lost in translation.

Gemma Creagh

99 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Viva is released 19th August 2016

Viva – Official Website 

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Interview: Director Paddy Breathnach & Writer Mark O’Halloran of ‘Viva’

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Gemma Creagh chats to the director Paddy Breathnach and writer Mark O’Halloran of Viva which introduces us to Jesus, a young hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers. Jesus dreams of being a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama, Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down.

 


 
You can download/listen to an audio podcast of the interview here

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Irish Film Review @ GAZE: Viva

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Richard Drumm checks out Viva, which screened at this year’s GAZE International LGBT Film Festival

[Contains spoilers]

Written, directed and produced with Irish talent, Viva explores the Cuban drag scene and one struggling young performer in particular, Jesus (Héctor Medina), who goes on to become the titular Viva. Struggling to make ends meet with his occasional hair-dressing clients, and little to do day-to-day except give his friend use of his apartment so she and her boyfriend can have sex, Jesus gravitates more and more toward the local drag club and the dysfunctional family of sorts that it represents. Led by Mama (Luis Alberto García), who Jesus styles wigs for, the various acid-tongued drag queens show our protagonist a strength and confidence which he feels is lacking in his own life; surrounded as he is by aggressively macho bravado and the ghost of his father, Angel’s (Jorge Perugorría) own toxic masculinity. Thought to be in prison for killing a man, the famed local boxer (who walked out on Jesus and his mother when he was only a child) suddenly returns one day while Viva is performing. Disgusted at the effeminacy and what he perceives as his son’s weakness he drunkenly assaults him yet still insists on living with Jesus and controlling his life. Most drastically, he bans Jesus from returning to the club or ever performing again. As his father spirals further into drunken oblivion and Jesus is forced to turn to more drastic avenues to be able to feed himself and his father, tensions in the household rise.

Despite the setting, this still in many ways remains recognisably Irish. From the constant shots of rain-pelted grey buildings, to the local ‘auld-one’ Jesus visits regularly, not to mention the occasional colloquialism slipping into the subtitles (I’m convinced using the phrase “cleaning her box” as a way of describing gynaecological hygiene is a distinctly Irish one and would be curious to know if that particular subtitle is altered from country to country), the film still retains fragments of home. Indeed, as Mark O’Halloran confirmed in the post-screening Q&A, the story itself of a young gay man living in a nominally conservative society and trying to deal and reconcile with his estranged father could just as easily have been set here.

Speaking of that aforementioned colloquialism, it’s worth saying up front that (however that above synopsis makes the film sound) this is a very funny film. The majority of the humour, if not all of it, comes from the drag artists themselves; the dynamics of their interactions akin to that of a particularly vulgar and thunderously bitchy set of old housewives gossiping and passing judgement on all and any who dare enter their sphere of notice. It’s partially for this reason that the film really comes alive when it fully immerses itself in the drag scene and explores it in all its hazily-lit glory. This is especially true of the performances, a series of highly melodramatic lip-syncs (often with real tears), they make for not only an unassailable soundtrack but also visually engaging, fun and (when narratively appropriate) even dramatically satisfying set-pieces. Think the ‘Club Silencio’ scene from Mulholland Drive but with less emphasis on freaking you out and more on entertaining you.

Owing to the strength of that side of the film, it’s disappointing to report that the more conventionally dramatic side of the story fails to engage quite as well. Despite being the backbone of the film and handled better than it could be in similar films, the narrative with Angel can’t help but (literally, given the plot) close off the more vibrant and interesting club antics to us. It still deserves some praise; the un-remarkability of their troubled relationship is in many ways what makes it noteworthy. It feels real and messy and, despite how negatively it’s affecting Jesus’ life, it never becomes this all-consuming force of dramatic nature that drowns the story. It’s presented quite believably, as an obstacle, one he lives his life around and has to deal with day-to-day.

What truly lets it down is how formulaic both the ultimate resolution and the story beats it hits to get there, are. Spoilers ahoy but as the film goes on we learn Jesus’ father was let out of prison early owing to severe and untreatable cancer. From there you can guess exactly everything that happens, right up to him showing up at the club for Viva’s big show-stopping performance as she finally comes fully into her own, and him being proud of his son for it. It’s a pity as the film had toed a nice line at making their troubled dynamic true to life while also managing to make this drunken, abusive bigot seem partially sympathetic without letting you forget he’s an unrepentant asshole. That nuance is gradually eroded away as we move toward a resolution that never feels fully earned and could certainly have been more satisfying. That said, in keeping with the film’s strength, Viva’s final performance, fuelled by grief and anger is suitably enthralling.

In other areas the film fairs well. Having already mentioned the fantastic soundtrack, the actual score is less remarkable but has a nice, subtle, authentic feel to it that anchors the film’s setting without feeling intrusive or stereotypical. Visually too, the film is strong. One character remarks that where they’re living is “the most beautiful slum in the world” and it’s hard to argue the point given how the film photographs the urban landscape. Urban decay can often be aesthetically striking but even more so here where it’s being applied to the familiar architecture and faded splashes of colour that the Havanan landscape is recognisable for.

While the film may be less than stellar in its main dramatic thrust, that doesn’t detract from the stronger elements that make it well worth a watch. When it works, it’s a funny, occasionally sad, visually and aurally vibrant and bombastic affair with an acid tongue and genuinely funny albeit bleak sense of humour. Decidedly the best Irish feature you’re likely to see about Cuban drag queens in the immediate future.

 

Viva screened on Friday, 29th July  as part of the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival

Viva is released in Irish cinemas on 19th August.

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Viva

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Deirdre Molumby headed along to Paddy Breathnach’s Viva, which closed this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

This year, the Audi Dublin International Film Festival closed with the Cuban-shot Irish-produced feature Viva. The screening had generated great anticipation as Viva was one of nine films shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, and it received critical acclaim at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival last September. Viva also won the Dublin Film Festival’s AUDI-ence award.

Set in Havana and directed by Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Shrooms, Man About Dog), Viva follows an eighteen year old named Jesus (newcomer Héctor Medina) who works as a hairdresser and make-up artist for drag performers at a local night club. With his mother deceased and his father in prison, the sweet-natured Jesus makes just enough of a living that he can maintain his humble flat but he dreams of playing a bigger role in the club – performing on stage as a drag act. When one of the show’s lead performers abruptly walks out, auditions are held for a replacement and Jesus gets his chance to shine. However, he is young and inexperienced, and is criticised by his mentor, another performer named Mama (Luis Alberto García), for not delivering feeling on the stage. But Jesus soon has something much bigger to worry about. His father, Angel (Jorge Perugorría), returns from prison, and is determined that Jesus will not perform.

At one point, Angel describes Havana as ‘the most beautiful slum in the world’, and indeed the film paints a beautiful portrait of the city. At the ADIFF screening, star of the film Luis Alberto García, who plays Mama, said the film ‘gave a dignity to poverty’, and this context is very much visible in the film as well. The world is both accessible and welcoming through its smart screenplay and colourfully drawn characters. It is also a relief that while the drag performers are fun and vibrant, they never become silly caricatures as one would see on something like TV reality show Rupaul’s Drag Race. In Alberto García, Héctor Medina and Jorge Perugorría, we get three strong performances and engrossing characters that keep the audience on their toes as their contrasting wills battle out.

Mark O’Halloran’s previous screenwriting credits include Adam & Paul and Garage, two critically acclaimed features directed by Lenny Abrahamson which did wonders for both their careers. Here, O’Halloran again looks at marginalised figures in society and exercises the minimalism he demonstrated in his previous work in this film also. Very little actually happens in Viva and there is a tangible sense of realism in this. We are given a real insight into the place, its characters, and are granted a much more satisfying cinematic experience which opposes escapist fantasy as a result.

At heart, Viva is an age old story about being true to oneself. But with its talented cast, stunning Cuban backdrop, and slowly enrapturing screenplay, it is one with a difference.

 

Viva screened on 28thFebruary 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 – 28 February)

 

 

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‘Viva’ Shortlisted for Academy Awards®

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Viva, directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by Mark O’Halloran, has been shortlisted in the category of Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards®. The final list of five nominees will be unveiled on January 14th.

Written by Mark O’Halloran (Garage, Adam and Paul) and directed by Paddy Breathnach (Man About Dog, I Went Down), 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 freedom – his long-lost father Angel, once a celebrated boxer and newly released from a 15-year prison term..”

Viva was produced by Robert Walpole, Rebecca O’Flanagan and Cathleen Dore for Treasure Entertainment ans was funded by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, RTÉ and Windmill Lane.

The 88th Academy Awards® will take place on 28th February 2016.

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