Five Screen Ireland funded films have been selected to have their World premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
The line-up includes one new Irish feature, Lee Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground starring Irish actress Seana Kerslake; two international co-productions, Sophie Hyde’s Animals and Sacha Polak’s Dirty God; alongside two Irish documentaries, Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s Gaza and Kim Longinotto’s Shooting the Mafia.
Commenting on the Irish Sundance selections, Screen Ireland Chief Executive James Hickey said: “We are very proud to have five titles set to screen at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and we would like to extend our congratulations to the filmmakers. The selection process is one of the most competitive in the world, so to have such a strong line-up 2019 edition festival is a fantastic achievement for our industry. Two out of the twelve documentaries in the international line-up, selected from all over the world, are Irish.”
From psychological horrors and harrowing portraits of social crises to celebratory and intimate tales of female friendship, these films act as exemplars of the diverse and varied slate Screen Ireland will present in 2019. Sundance is the largest independent film festival in North America and provides an invaluable platform to launch these films into the US market and beyond.
Brooklyn,The Lobster, Sing Street, Calvary, The Guard,School Life and It’s Not Yet Dark comprise just some of the major Irish films of the last decade to have screened at Sundance, with the festival presenting a consistently strong line-up of Irish titles down through the years.
Speaking about The Hole in the Ground’s selection, director Lee Cronin: “It’s a privilege to bring The Hole in the Ground to the Sundance Film Festival for its World Premiere this January. A hell of a lot of extremely talented people worked tirelessly to make the movie a reality, so I’m delighted that its creators, funders and supporters can celebrate the perfect launch-pad in Utah. Personally, I’m excited to bring my horror story to the big screen, and I can’t wait for Irish audiences to see it when it’s released in cinemas in the new year.”
Co-Director of GAZA, Garry Keane said: “On behalf of my co-director colleague Andrew McConnell and I, it is a huge honour for our filmGAZA to be selected for the Sundance Film Festival 2019 in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. This is not only a professional Everest for us both, but even more so, it is a clear testament to the resilience and bravery of our contributors who have shared their lives with us in this beautiful and much misunderstood place. It is a privilege to have spent time with them and to have had the chance to bring their stories of hope and survival in one of the most unique places on earth to the world’s most prestigious documentary festival.”
ABOUT THE FILMS
The Hole in the Ground
Trying to escape her broken past, Sarah O’Neill (Séana Kerslake) is building a new life on the fringes of a backwood rural town with her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey). A terrifying encounter with a mysterious neighbour shatters her fragile security, throwing Sarah into a spiralling nightmare of paranoia and mistrust, as she tries to uncover if the disturbing changes in her little boy are connected to an ominous sinkhole buried deep in the forest that borders their home.
The Hole in the Ground is directed by Lee Cronin and stars Seána Kerslake (A Date for Mad Mary) with the title produced by John Keville and Conor Barry for Savage Productions.
A fierce and unapologetic celebration of female friendship, Animals is an intimate, funny and bittersweet examination of the challenges of turning talent into action, and being a modern woman, with faults, longings and competing desires.
Animals is an Irish/Australian co-production, directed by Sophie Hyde, with Cormac Fox producing for Ireland’s Vico Films alongside Sarah Brocklehurst, Rebecca Summerton and Sophie Hyde. The film starsHolliday Grainger (My Cousin Rachel) and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development).
Dirty God is a powerful film about motherhood, courage and self-acceptance. Jade is a young mother recovering from an acid attack that has left her with severe facial burns. Her face has been reconstructed, but her beauty is gone. Distanced from her daughter, Jade finds solace in the hidden world of online liaisons where she uncovers the passion and connection she’s craved. But when her life is turned upside down once more, those around can do little to halt her descent. As her family life and friendships start to crumble, Jade takes drastic action, finally finding the path back to her daughter and herself.
The film is an Irish/Dutch/UK/Belgian co-production, with Conor Barry and John Keville on board as Irish producers for Savage Productions, alongside Viking Film (NL), Emu Films (UK) and A Private View (BE).
This documentary brings together an eloquent, resilient, funny and courageous group of souls, on whose lives the world lens is often trained, without ever capturing their true essence; their struggle, survival, resilience and sense of family, which goes to the very heart of humanity and human nature. The film unfolds a portrait of the ordinary people of Gaza who attempt to lead meaningful lives beyond the rubble of perennial conflict. Free of the cliché of news reportage, GAZA reveals a complex land of intrigue and highlight the beauty of the human condition and the warmth and humour that lies bubbling beneath the surface of this truly remarkable place.
The documentary is directed and produced by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell for Real Films.
Shooting the Mafia
In sharp contrast to the all-pervasive romanticised and glamorised media image of the Sicilian Mafia, Kim Longinotto’s feature documentary Shooting the Mafia, unflinchingly explores the stark reality of life, and death, under the oppressive yoke of the Corleonesi Mafia. Photographer Letizia Battaglia stood up to the Mafia and it is through her lens that we enter this world of ritualised slaughter, omertà, semi-religious oppression and feudal control. The scale of the mafia’s brutality and power is revealed through a combination of rare archive footage, newsreel and personal photographs and memories. The power of Letizia’s photography and the bravery and dedication of people like her helped to finally bring to an end the brutal reign of a bunch of small town thugs who’s reign of fear reached as far as the Italian presidency.
The documentary is directed by Kim Longinotto and produced by Niamh Fagan for Lunar Pictures.
The 2019 Sundance Film Festival runs from 24 Jan – 3 Feb in Park City, Utah.