Full line-up revealed for the 12th Irish Film Festa, the only Italian film festival completely dedicated to Irish cinema and culture, which is taking place from 27-31 March 2019, at the Casa del Cinema in Rome.
Northern Irish actor John Lynch will attend the festival as a guest of honour. Lynch has a special bond with Italy, since his mother is from Trivento, Molise; at IFF he will take part in a public interview and look back over his career, from Pat O’Connor’s Cal (1984) and Michael Rymer’s Angel Baby (1995, to be screened at the festival) to Mary McGuckian’s Best (2000), and more. John Lynch will also hold an acting workshop, open to students and professionals.
This year’s opening film is The Drummer and the Keeper, directed by Nick Kelly and winner of Best First Feature at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh: Gabriel (Dermot Murphy), recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Christopher (Jacob McCarthy), who is suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, are two teenage boys who meet each other as players in a special football team and develop a strong friendship.
As previously announced, IFF will host the Italian premiere of Lance Daly‘s Black ’47, the historical drama set during the Great Famine which was a big hit at the Irish box office last year. The cast features Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene. The screenplay of Black ’47 – written by Daly with PJ Dillon, Pierce Ryan and Eugene O’Brien – is partly inspired by the Irish-language short film An Ranger, directed by Dillon and also screened at the IFF in 2010.
Metal Heart marks the debut as a director of Irish actor Hugh O’Conor: young twin sisters Emma (Jordanne Jones) and Chantal (Leah McNamara) are worlds apart, and when their parents go away for the summer, their simmering rivalry threatens to boil over. A photography exhibition will also be held at the Casa del Cinema during the festival, featuring 18 portraits of Irish directors and actors (Andrew Scott, Moe Dunford, Barry Keoghan, Nora Twomey, among the others) taken by O’Conor himself.
Hugh O’Conor is also linked to this year’s Irish Classic, Colin Gregg’s Lamb (1985), where ten-year-old Hugh was cast opposite Liam Neeson.
The Dig, a Northern Irish tense thriller directed by Andy and Ryan Tohill, won the 2018 Galway Film Fleadh as Best Irish Feature: after serving fifteen years for murder, Callahan returns home to find Sean, his victim’s grieving father, searching for the body in an endless bog. Ryan Tohill and the two lead actors, Moe Dunford and Lorcan Cranitch, are expected to attend the Italian premiere of the film.
Michael Inside is the new film by Frank Berry, following I Used to Live Here, which also screened at IFF in 2016. The titular character Michael (Dafhyd Flynn) is an impressionable 18-year-old sentenced to three months in prison after he is caught holding a bag of drugs for a friend’s older brother. The cast also includes Lalor Roddy, Moe Dunford and Robbie Walsh.
The 12th IFF gives more space to documentaries, organising a panel discussion on the topic, as well as a series of dedicated screenings.
The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, by Feargal Ward, brings on screen the story of unyielding Irish farmer Thomas Reid who refuses to sell his 300-year-old farm to the multinational microchip manufacturer Intel. The film premiered in the main competition at IDFA Amsterdam in 2017 before screening at Hot Docs and Sheffield DocFest.
Directed by Seán Murray and narrated by Stephen Rea, Unquiet Graves details how members of the RUC and UDR, (a British Army regiment) were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 innocent civilians during the recent conflict in Ireland. Belfast-born Murray, whose previous work Ballymurphy screened at IFF in 2015, will take part in this year’s documentary panel.
Also expected to attend, Northern Irish director and producer Brendan J Byrne: IFF will screen his short documentary Hear My Voice, a touching tribute to those who suffered a loss during the Troubles. The film combines Colin Davidson’s portrait collection “Silent Testimony” with the spoken words of the people, victims and survivors of the conflict, featured in the paintings.
The Mam Trasna Murders (Murdair Mhám Trasna), a docu-drama written and directed by Colm Bairéad, tells the story of barbaric murders committed in the midst of a rural
community in Joyce Country, in 1882. The truth about those crimes was only recently unveiled and established. Lead actor Dara Devaney will attend the screening.
This year, the short film competition also focuses on documentaries, with a dedicated section, and includes Bog Graffiti, the latest experimental work by veteran author Bob Quinn.
The special screening of three episodes from hit comedy series Derry Girls (Channel 4), created by Lisa McGee, will close the festival: set in Derry in the early 90s, this sit-com is a warm, laugh-out-loud funny and honest look at the lives of ordinary people living under the spectre of the Troubles, all seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Erin and her friends.
As part of the IFFbooks section, dedicated to literature and authors from Ireland, the festival will host a conversation with Irish-born writer Karl Geary. He’s also an actor (Jimmy’s Hall by Ken Loach) and a screenwriter (Coney Island Baby, 2003), and published his first novel, Montpelier Parade, in 2017.
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