Submissions & Funding Deadlines


Looking for funding for your film? Want to submit your work to festivals? Keep an eye on upcoming deadlines here.

If you have a deadline you’d like us to include, please contact

Click on the link for further information:

Screen Ireland Production Funding:  TV Drama Production – 13th December 2019

Project Development Loans13th December 2019

Documentary Development 13th December 2019

Screenplay Development 13th December 2019

Fiction: Irish Production  – 13th December 2019

IDFA Bertha FUND – 10th December 2019

Festival Submissions: Irish Film Festival, Boston – 31st October 2019

TV Drama Development  – 31st October 2019

Project Development Loans – 31st October 2019

Documentary Development 31st October 2019

Screenplay Development31st October 2019

Eurimages Co-production Deadlines – 22nd October 2019

TV Drama Production Funding – 18th October 2019

Fiction: Irish Production18th October 2019

NFF+HBF Co-production scheme – 9th October 2019

Script + Project Development: Voices – 1st September 2019

EAVE Producers Workshop 2020 – 30th August 2019

Project Development Loans30th August 2019

Documentary Development 30th August 2019

Screenplay Development30th August 2019

Eurimages Co-production Deadlines 22nd August 2019

TV Drama Production Funding 16th August 2019

Fiction: Irish Production  16th August 2019

Authored Works Funding Scheme 15th August 2019

Script + Project Development: Bright Future 1st August 2019

Virgin Media Discovers Short Film Competition 26th July

Submissions for TG4 Programming 2020-2021 12th July 2019

Submissions for Medimed, the Euromed Docs Market & Pitching Forum 30th June 2019

NEXTWAVE 30th June 2019

TV Drama Development  28th June 2019 

Project Development Loans 28th June 2019 

Documentary Development  28th June 2019

Screenplay Development  28th June 2019

TV Drama Production Funding 14th June 2019

Fiction: Irish Production 14th June 2019

Dublin Feminist Film Festival Submissions  14th June 2019

TFL World Co-Production Fund 12th June 2019

ACE 29 Production Training Programme 12th June 2019

IBF Project Development  10th June 2019

IBF Production & Post Production  10th June  

Selective Distribution 7th June 2019

Cinema Distribution Selective Scheme  4th June 2019

TFL Audience Design Fund 3rd June

Galway Film Fleadh Pitching Competition 31st May 2019

Television Programming 28th May 2019

48 Hour Challenge 24th May 2019

NI Screen Craft and Technical Skills Scheme 10th May 2019

Reel Art Funding Scheme 9th May 2019

Support To Film Festivals  7th May 2019

Kerry Short Film Bursary 30th April

WRAP Development Support 30th April 2019

Project Development Loans 30th April 2019

Documentary Development  30th April 2019

Screenplay Development   30th April 2019

Creative Europe MEDIA Single Project Development 24th April 2019

Screen Leaders 19th April 2019

TV Drama Production Funding 16th April 2019

Fiction: Irish Production 16th April 2019

Irish Delegation to BANFF World Media Festival and Vancouver Trade Mission 12th April 2019

Promotion of European Works Online 5th April 2019

True North Shorts  3rd April 2019

IDFA Bertha Fund 1st April 2019

Shot by the Sea Submissions 31st March 2019

Young Irish Film Makers Screenwriting competition 31st March 2019

FilmOffaly Short Film Award  22nd March 2019

Newport Beach Film Festival Submissions 21st March 2019

Harp Media Student Short Film and Screenplay Competition 15th March 2019

Northern Ireland Screen’s Feature Documentary Development Funding 15th March 2019

Arts Grant Funding 14th March 2019

EFP Producers on the Move 2019 12 March 2019

Doc Fest Ireland Film Submissions 9th March 2019

Film Education 7th March 2019

Project Development Loans 28th February 2019 

TV Drama Development  28th February 2019

TV Drama Production Funding 28th February 2019

Documentary Development  28th February 2019

Screenplay Development  28th February 2019

Pitch Pilot Workshop Galway 22nd February 2019

Slate Funding Development  20th February 2019

WFT Members’ Short Film Showcase Submissions 20th February 2019

St. Patrick’s Film Festival London Short Film Submission – 15th February 2019

Fiction: Irish Production 15th February 2019

Access to Markets  7th February 2019

Beara Film Fest    31st January 2019

Arts Council Film bursary award  31st January 2019

First Cut! Youth Film Festival 14th January

Submissions for Writers Conference 11th January

SDGI Arri Alexa Take 11th January 2019

Galway Film Fleadh Feature Film Submissions 18th January 2019

Irish Film Festa Short Film Submissions 10th January 2019

Artist Residencies and Bursaries  @ Centre Culturel Irlandais 10th January 2019

Cinema Distribution Selective Scheme  8th January 

Newport Beach Film Festival 21st December 2018

Junior Entertainment Talent Slate 20th December 2018

Support To Film Festivals  20th December 2018 

Television Programming 18th December 2018 

Creative Europe MEDIA Single Project Development 18th December 2018

Irish Animation Awards Submissions 10th December 2018

Dingle International Film Festival  Submissions – 3rd December 2018

Dublin Smartphone Film Festival Submissions – 1st December 2018

Cartoon Movie 21st November 2018

BAI Sound & Vision Round 3 TV & Radio – 8th November 2018

BAI Sponsorship Scheme 2019 29th November

Shebeen Flick Submissions Late Deadline – 1st October 2018

Celtic Media Festival Submissions – 31st October 2018

Dingle International Film Festival  Físín Submissions  – 26th October

Festivals Investment Scheme – 25th October 2018

Celtic International Fund – 24th October 2018

Reel Art and Authored Works  –11 October 2018

BAI Archiving Funding Scheme  –4th October 2018

Shebeen Flick Submissions – 1st October 2018

International Co-Production Development Fund – 30th September 2018

BAI Canada-Ireland Co-development Incentive  – 28th September 2018

IMRO | RTÉ Scoring For Film Programme 28th September 2018

EWA Network Scriptwriter’s Residency 24th September

RTÉ | BAI Round 32  21st September 2018

Irish Screen America New York  Submissions Extended Deadline 14th September 2018

Irish Film Festival London Submissions 14th September 2018

Dublin Port Short Film Prize 13th September 2018

Annual Directors’ Finders Series Showcase 7th September 2018

Cinemagic Young Filmmaker 31st August 2018

Waterford Film Festival Late Deadline 31st August

Richard Harris International Film Festival Submissions Late Deadline 18th August 2018

Screen Ireland Film Project Award – 16th July 2018

Wexford Stories Short Film Funding 31st July 2018

ADIFF  Submissions 31st July 2018

Richard Harris International Film Festival Submissions 31st July 2018

Wicklow Screendance Laboratory 27th July 2018

Waterford Film Festival Short Films & Short Scripts 27th July 2018

Writing Mentorship Scheme 23rd July 2018

Film Mayo Creative Ireland Residency Award 18th July 2018

Underground Cinema Film Festival Submissions 14th July  2018

Spook Screen Submissions 30th June 2018

ilDÁNA Documentary Funding 21st June

IFI Documentary Festival Submissions 20th June 2018

Pitching Competition Galway Film Fleadh 8th June 2018

Galway Film Fair Marketplace 1st June 2018

Irish Film Board Production Funding 31st May 2018 

TV Programming Support Scheme 24th May 2018

Galway Film Fleadh Short Film Submissions 12th May 2018

Cork Film Festival  Feature Film Submissions 4th May 2018

Film Bursary Award 2018 27th April 2018

dlr First Frames Scheme Short Film Funding 27th April 2018

Arts and Disability Connect Funding Scheme 26th April 2018

Light Moves Festival of Screendance Submissions 20th April 2018

Support for Development of Audiovisual Content – Single Project 2018 19th April 2018

Screen Training Ireland Screen Leaders 13th April 2018

POV Training Scheme for female writers & directors  13th April 2018

Northern Ireland Screen’s Feature Doc Development 6th April 2018

Film In Cork 2018 Short Film Award Submissions 6th April 2018

OFFline Film Festival Animation Residency 30th March 2018

Artist in the community scheme Arts Council Funding 26th March

Film Offaly & Filmbase 2018 Short Film Award  23rd March 2018

EFP Producers on the Move 22nd March 2018

SHORT STORIES IFB Funding 23rd March 2018

Student Media Production Awards Funding 20th March 2018

Youth Music Video Competition 28th February 2018

IFB New Writing Development 28th February 2018

First Cut! Youth Film Festival Short Film Submissions 28th February 2018

IFTA Film & Drama Awards 15th February 2018

Arts Council Film Project Award  15th February 2018

Galway Film Centre & RTÉ Short Film Commission Scheme 14th February 2018

Hope: 1998 All Ireland Referendum Funding 9th February 2018

Creative Europe Slate Funding – Support for Development of Audiovisual Content 6th February 2018

Frameworks Scheme – 2nd February 2018

Irish Film Board Screenplay Development 31st January 2018

 Irelands Young Filmmaker of the Year 2018  26th January

Arts Council Film Bursary Award  25th January 2018

Bursary Information Day for Documentary Filmmakers 18th January 2018

Irish Film Festa Submissions 10th January 2018

BAI Sponsorship Scheme 4th January 2018 

Storyland Submissions 15th December 2017

Junior Entertainment Talent Slate 14th December 2017

IMRO Music for Screen Seminar 6th Dec 2017 

Dublin Smartphone Film Festival 1st December 2017

Sound and Vision 1st December 2017

BAI Sound & Vision Scheme Round 30 1st December 2017

Irish Film Festival, Boston 30th November, 2017

RTÉ ECommissioning – Irish Scripted Comedy 29th November 2017

Support for Development of Audiovisual Content – Single Project 2018 23th November 2017 

ilDÁNA 20th October 2017

IFTA Awards 2018 Submissions Deadline for Film & Drama 17th November 2017

TV Programming Support Scheme 16th November 2017

Reel Art 13th October 2017

Cine4 Development Scheme 6th October

Shebeen Flick 1st October 

Audi Dublin International Film Festival 1st October 2017

Irish Filmmaker Competition 27th August 2017

Foyle Film Festival 29th September 2017

TV3 Spring 2018 31st July 2017

Cork Film Festival  15th July 2017

Kerry Film Festival  14th July 2017

The One Minute Film Festival 30th June 2017

Light Moves Symposium 30th June 2017

Cine4 Development Scheme 22nd June 2017

Wexford Documentary Film Festival 19th June 2017

Galway Film Fleadh Pitching Competition 7th June 2017

Close Up – Filmbase Talent Development Scheme 5th June 2017

Jameson First Shot 1st June 2017

Film 48 Hour Challenge 31st May 2017

TV Programming Scheme 30th May 2017

Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival 29th May 2017

GAZE International LGBT Film Festival 12th  May 2017

Still Voices Short Film Festival 14th May 2017

Arts and Disability Connect 4th May 2017

TV3 Single Documentary Call Out 2017 31st April 2017

TV3 Autumn 2017 30th April 2017

dlr First Frames Scheme 28th April 2017

Support for Film Festivals 27th April 2017

Support for Content Development of a Single Project  20th April 2017

Science on Screen 19th April 2017

Galway Film Fleadh 31st March 2017

TV3 Studio Call Out 2017 22nd March 2017

The Short Film Festival of Ireland 17th March 2017

Sci-Fi Film Festival 15th March 2017

ilDÁNA 10th March 2017

Frameworks Short Film Scheme 10th March 2017

Support for Film Education 2nd March 2017

Arts Council Film Project Award 2nd March 2017

First Cut! Youth Film Festival  28th February 

Young Animator Of The Year Awards 28th February 2017

RTÉ Factual 20th February 20 17

SHORT SHOTS Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Scheme 16th February 2017

Fastnet Film Festival 14th February 2017

Support for Development – Slate Funding  2nd February 2017

Short Film Commission Scheme 31st January 2017

Close Up – Development Scheme for Actors 26th January 2017

RTÉ Young Peoples Animated Shorts Scheme 18th January 2017

Factual Entertainment Series for RTÉ2 16th January 2017

Eurimages Co-production  12th January 2017

RTÉ  Comedy, Talent Development and Music proposals 5th January 2017

Irish Film Festa (short films) 20th December 2016

Film In Cork – Short Script Award 9th December 2016

Distribution – Selective Scheme  1st December 2016

Chicago Irish Film Festival 1st December 2016

Irish Film Board Development  30th November 2016

Irish Film Board Distribution 30th November 2016

Support for Film Festivals 24th November 2016 

TV Programming Scheme 24th November 2016 

Irish Film Festival London 23 – 27 November 2016

Support for Content Development of a Single Project – 17th November 2016

Irish Film Board Development 31st October 2016

Irish Film Board  Production & Distribution 28th October 2016

Audi Dublin International Film Festival  1st October 2016

IFB Production and Distribution Funding  30th September 2016

Canada-Ireland Co-development Incentive 28th September 2016

Northern Ireland Screen Short Film Funding 23rd September 2016

Radharc Awards 2016 23rd September 2016

Clones Film Festival Short Film Submissions 31st August 2016

Submissions for 10th Waterford Film Festival 26th August 2016

IFTA Gala Television Awards 22nd August 2016

IFB Focus Shorts  5th August 2016

IFB Real Shorts  5th August 2016

Underground Cinema Film Festival 31st July 2016

Cinemagic Belfast 25th July, 2016

Waterford Film Festival 15th July 2016

IFB Short Stories 15th July 2016

Kerry Film Festival 11th July 2016

Audi Dublin International Film Festival 11th July 2016

Galway Film Fleadh Pitching Competition 9th July 2016

Cork Film Festival 2nd July 2016

Fingal Film Festival 30th June 2016

IFI Documentary Festival 20th  June 2016

Galway Film Fleadh  The One Minute Film Festival June 23rd 2016 

IFB Production and Distribution Funding 17th June 2016

Distribution Selective Scheme 14th June 2016

Kerry Film Festival Short Film Submission 11th July 2016

Film on the Edge 10th June 2016

Galway Film Fleadh Pitching Competition 9th June 2016

Galway Film Fleadh 2016 Marketplace Applications 27th May 2016 

Light Moves 27th May 2016

Television Programming   26th May 2016  

Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival 15th May

Directors’ Finders Series Showcase 29th April 2016

Support for Film Festivals   28th April 2016

Single Project Development  21st April 2016

Eurimages Co-Production 15th April, 2016

Pitching Forum for Co-Production Projects April 15th 2016

March on Film 31st March, 2016

Feel Good Lost Filmmakers Competition  29th February 2016

Galway Film Fleadh  Feature Films 25th March 2016

Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund 18th March 2016

Frameworks 11th March 2016

Limerick Film Festival  4th March 2016

FilmOffaly Award 4th March 2016

Co-Production Funds 25 February 2016

IFB Production and Distribution Funding 19th February 2016

Jameson Gone in 60 Seconds 14th February 2016

Fastnet Film Festival 14th February 2016

March On Film 14th February 2016

First Cut! Youth Film Festival 12th February

Slate Funding 4th February 2016

Live Life National Film Competition 1st February

ASSET programme 30th January 2016

Short Shots @ Filmbase 28th January 2016

Access to Markets   28th January 2016

National Youth Media Awards 22nd January 2016

Fresh Film Festival 22nd January 2016

Arts Council Bursary Awards 21st January 2016

Young Directors Awards 2016 15th January 2016

Artists in Residence @ Centre Culturel Irlandais 11th January 2016

Jameson First Shot Film Competition 4th January 

Irish Film Festa (short film) 20th December

Belfast Film Festival Short Film Competition 18th December

Animation Dingle  December 4th 2015

Dingle International Film Festival 11th December 2015

Dublin Doc Fest 11th December 2015

EU Commission TV Programming Funding 3rd December, 2015 / May 26, 2016

Chicago Irish Film Festival 1st December 2015

Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 20th November 2015

EU Commission Single Project Development Funding 19th November 2015 / 21st April 2016

Splanc! Irish language Arts Documentary Scheme 16th November 2015

Boston Irish Film Festival 15th November 2015

Feature Documentary Development 6th November 2015

Animation Dingle Early Deadline 6th November 2015

Dublin International Film Festival Short Film Submissions  31st October 2015

Junior Galway Film Fleadh Story Pitching Competition 30th October 2015

Celtic Media Festival  30th October 2015

Short Film Proposal in the Irish Language 19th October 2015

Reel Art  16th October 2015

OFFline Filmmaking Challenge 8 – 10 October 2015

Clones 48 Hour Short Film Challenge 5th October 2015

Ronan Phelan Euroconnection Pitching Award 2015 4 – 11 October 2015

Cinemagic Young Filmmaker Competition 30th September

Capital Irish Film Festival  30th September

Irish Film Festival London  28th September

Feminist Film Festival Short Film Submissions  25th September

Foyle Film Festival 25th September

BBC Writersroom Script Room 24th September

Pitch 25-minute doc for TG4 18th September

Richard Harris International Film Festival  4th September

Clones Film Festival  30th August

Guth Gafa ‘Next Generation’ Short Documentary Student Competition  28th August

Creative Proposals for RTE 26th August

Documentaries for Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival 22nd August

Indie Cork 1st August

Irish Screen America  1st August

GAZE International LGBT Film Festival  30th July

Sky Road TV & Film Festival 17th July  [Early Bird]

The One Minute Film Festival  30th June

Fingal Film Festival  30th June

Underground Cinema Film Festival  30th June

IFI Documentary Festival  24th  June

Shortfilm48 12 – 14 June

Light Moves  10th June

Charlie Chaplin Film Festival  1st June

Arts and Disability Connect  21st May

Lady’s First International Film Festival 20th May

Short Films for Galway Film Fleadh 2015  15th May

Frameworks  15th April

FilmOffaly/Filmbase 2015 Short Film Award  20th March

Secrets of Offaly – Public Art Commission  13th February

 AFTER ’16  6th February

Jameson First Shot 2015 1st February

Dublin Doc Fest Short Documentary Film  30th January

Irish Animation Awards  23rd January

Youth Film Festival  9th January





The Movie Brothers – Part I: John Houlihan

John and Patrick Houlihan at Newsman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox Studios (pic: John Houlihan)


The Movie Brothers – Part I: John Houlihan


James Bartlett


In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, we interviewed two brothers – John and Patrick Houlihan – who not only both live in Southern California and both have the same job as a music supervisor, but they also both work at 20th Century Fox film studios.

As the oldest of the two, we chose John to go first. Like Patrick, he is Senior Vice President of Music at Fox, and his credits include John Wick 1 and 2, the Deadpool and Austin Powers movies, Atomic Blonde, The Shape of Water and many more movies and television shows. He’s also the co-founder and past president of the Guild of Music Supervisors.   

He was born in upstate New York, “just a couple miles away from where my Great-Great Grandfather lived when he arrived from Ireland in 1867.” In the 1970s the family relocated to New Jersey, which was where he mainly grew up and graduated High School. “It was a rowdy upbringing, being one of five siblings with awesome parents,” he remembers.  

He now lives in Studio City, California, with his wife of 20 years Julie, and three teenage sons. “Daily life is like a sitcom without cameras,” he says, then admits that his official press-release age will stay “mid to late 40s” for as long as he can manage it.

John noted that the Houlihans “are a part of the great Irish diaspora: out of sight but not out of mind,” and that everything has changed in recent years.

“I’ve become obsessed with trying to confirm the Irish towns, churches and neighborhoods where my ancestors once dwelled – it seems around Tipperary. Fortunately for me and my brothers I’ve hit a research wall, so it seems like we need to travel over for a pub crawl across Ireland in order to find the original parish records that hold our family origin story. We’ll bring my 13-year-old son to be our designated driver!” he laughs.    

Both brothers have visited Ireland before, and John’s first trip was part of his honeymoon. “We both fell in love with the people and the land,” he says.

A few years later in 2004, John returned to Ireland – this time thanks to his career. He was working with legendary Irish writer-director Jim Sheridan on the biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’, which was partially edited in Dublin after shooting in Toronto.  

But what does a music supervisor do? In brief, they get a script and asses the music needs for the story; what the composer might produce, what songs should be used in the background, or in montages, or even sung by characters.    

“There is no such thing as a typical day,” said John, “and that’s why it is a dream job for us.”

Explaining further, he said that they “do the craziest things behind the scenes to help the vision of filmmakers and musicians come true. We jump into the fray and help a dozen different creative people agree on the best music approach for a film when everyone has their own highly subjective take.”

A large amount of time is spent on the business side of things too. Permission and (sometimes large) payments are necessary to use any song that’s still in copyright, but countless other factors can come into play and change everything. As a rule, the more famous the song, the more expensive it will be to use.  

“We can’t just think of music ideas; we need to deliver those ideas by creating new recordings that make movie magic, oversee the formal copyright clearance deals and manage limited budgets.”

John remembered helping a director get $2,000,0000 worth of licensed music choices into their final film on a music budget of $500,000, and said that there have been some strange moments too.

“I was tip-toeing down a recording studio hallway past two snoozing, 300 lb., 6 foot 6-inch-tall, bodyguards so I could crash a recording session and close a song deal with a famous rapper,” he remembers, adding that he even once meditated himself into a deep trance to send a beam of energy across America to Aretha Franklin so she would approve use of one her songs.

“And it worked too!” he laughs.

John – or his brother – can be working on up to a dozen movies simultaneously, “and sometimes we’re juggling 101 problems. We try to flow with it all, and be like improvisational jazz musicians. Coming from a big family was good practice,” he says.  

Though the world of the movies might be a secret to many of us, there is one thing professionals and public alike can relate to: how music has changed from being a physical form (vinyl, cassettes, CDs) to online streaming and computer files.

“I’ve received well over 100,000 CDs over the years from companies and artists pitching their music for use in film and TV,” says John, admitting that he occasionally had joyful clear-outs, junking countless silver discs.

Nevertheless, he’s been unable to go entirely cold-turkey. He tries to be as online and digital as possible in his day-to-day listening, but he and Julie (who, unbelievably, is a music supervisor too) still have some 40,000 CDs in their garage.

He half-jokingly says he expects to end up on a “Hoarders” reality television show one day, “clutching a David Bowie CD set as their psychologist tries to talk me into finally throwing everything away.”

More seriously, he notes that while a large majority of the history of popular music is available online, around 15% or so has not yet – and may never – make the migration to digital, so having as much available as possible gives him every opportunity to find that “homerun” song.

Talking further about work, it was impossible not to ask John about the pros and cons of working with his brother Patrick every day.

John wonders if their boss was “out of her mind to hire two Houlihans,” but then admits that it’s “definitely is fun to see my brother every day, and get the chance to collaborate with him on major film projects.”

Then came the inevitable sibling joshing.

“Patrick himself will tell you that I’m absolutely the smarter, funnier and clearly more handsome of the two of us – not to mention my athletic superiority!” boasts John.

John worked in the industry from his early days – booking bands for school festivals and working as a college radio DJ – and then, after graduating college, he started an artist management company and independent record label in New Jersey.

The two brothers have also worked together for many years; John was manager of Patrick’s indie rock band Daisyhaze in Washington, DC, though in 1992 John was the first to move to Los Angeles with the express purpose to get into music supervision.

He had just $200 in his pocket then, but in time he hired Patrick at a small company he co-founded, and the story continued with Julie and yet another of their brothers, Kevin, joining them (his expertise being in music licensing).  

As John says, “there must be a music secret sauce recipe in the Houlihan’s!”   

It could have been very different, though. John says that when he was in college, he started a house-painting company during summer vacation, and found he had a real knack for it.

“I am at inner peace when I’m painting a house, especially the windows and trim,” he said, adding that his work once moved a watching woman to tears. “I’ll admit she possibly had a drinking problem, but it was still a nice compliment!”

It seems that ultimately then he took the right path, but as for the future, he has an Irish dream that’s not related to music:

“To buy a home on the water in Kinsale. So, if in 20 years you see an old guy in a beat-up fishing boat puttering around the River Bandon before heading to the pub, that will be me.”

Next we talk to Patrick and learn his story…


Irish Films To Look Out For in 2019

We take a look at some of the Irish films making their way to screens this year.

In order of latest release dates with films TBC below.

We’ll update films, premieres and release dates as they come in.


Best Before Death (Paul Duane) 

Premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

In cinemas 23rd September 2019

Follows Bill Drummond, who has has left music behind to become a concept artist, sculpting a community around his mundane tasks.

Extra Ordinary

DIR: Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman

WRI: Mike Ahern, Demian Fox

Premiere @ South by Southwest 2019

In cinemas 13th September 2019

A driving instructor must use her other-wordly gifts to save a lonely man’s daughter from a rock star looking to use her for Satanic purposes.

CAST: Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward

Thank You Come Again

DIR: Stephen Clarke Dunne • WRI: Stephen Clarke Dunne, John Sweeney

Dillon, Mary and Fergus have a life-changing decision to make as a ruthless diamond smuggler comes to realise that precious inventory has gone missing. Meanwhile, Harry has one last chance at getting that one last job to see him to retirement, Fr. Francis has to decide which passion he must follow in life, Lisa goes looking for her missing husband James who likes a good refund, Fr. Rejoice has serious concerns about his young understudy who is spending too much time with a certain ‘local parishioner’, Naomi has to balance dating an adult shop owner with working for a psychotic boss, and Bridget has to keep bringing her dear son Timmy to confession cause he can’t seem to keep himself out of a certain shop of sin.

CAST: Brendan Sheehan, Christina Ryan, Nic Furlong

A Bump Along The Way

DIR:  Shelly Love • WRI: Tess Mcgowan

Premiere @ Galway Film Fleadh 2019

In cinemas 30th August 2019


Fifteen-year-old Allegra is constantly embarrassed by her mother’s immaturity, her dead-end job at the bakery and her lifestyle, encouraged by fast-talking best friend Aisling. But Pamela’s fed up too, having put her life on hold to raise her disapproving daughter.

When Pamela becomes unexpectedly pregnant, the relationship between mother and daughter is tested as the two navigate the upheavals of pregnancy and teenage hormones, driving Pamela and Allegra to a new understanding and appreciation of each other along the way.

CAST: Bronagh Gallagher, Lola Petticrew, Mary Moulds, Dan Gordan, Andy Doherty, Gerard Jordan, Paddy C. Courtney

Never Grow Old

DIR/WRI: Ivan Kavanagh

Premiere @ Galway Film Fleadh 2019

In cinemas 23rd August 2019

A western in which an Irish undertaker profits when outlaws take over a peaceful American frontier town, but his family come under threat as the death toll rises.

CAST: John Cusack, Emile Hirsch, Antonia Campbell-Hughes


DIR:  Garry Keane

Premiere @ Sundance Film Festival 2019

In cinemas 9th August 2019

Bringing us to a unique place beyond the reach of television news reports Gaza reveals a world rich with eloquent and resilient characters, offering us a cinematic and enriching portrait of a people attempting to lead meaningful lives against the rubble of perennial conflict.

“With understanding and sympathy the filmmakers have managed to capture how the toils of war shape the lives of people who are trapped by it”

Review of Irish Film @ DIFF 2019: Gaza


DIR: Sophie Hyde • WRI: Emma Jane Unsworth

Premiere @ Sundance Film Festival 2019

In cinemas 9th August 2019

Laura and Tyler are soulmates. Thirty-something best friends and revellers residing in Dublin, they are ingrained in the fabric of each other’s lives; dating, partying, drinking and living their life without limitations.

CAST: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat

Vita and Virginia 

DIR: Chanya Button • WRI: Eileen Atkins, Chanya Button 

Premiere @ Toronto International Film Festival 2018

In cinemas 5th July 2019

The true story about the love affair between socialite and popular author Vita Sackville-West and literary icon Virginia Woolf.

CAST: Elizabeth Debicki, Gemma Arterton, Isabella Rossellini

Metal Heart

DIR: Hugh O’Conor • WRI: Paul Murray

Premiere @ Galway Film Fleadh 2018

In cinemas 28th June 2019

There is much rivalry between twin sisters Emma and Chantal, quite different in just about every way, when their mysterious young neighbour moves back in.

CAST: Jordanne Jones, Leah McNamara, Moe Dunford, Seán Doyle

Irish Film Review: Metal Heart

Prisoners of the Moon

DIR/WRI: Johnny Gogan 

Premiere @ Dublin International Film Festival 2019

In cinemas 28th June 2019

Fifty years after the Apollo 11 mission, Johnny Gogan and Nick Snow’s documentary tells the hidden horror story behind the NASA space programme and of the only former Nazi to be stripped of his American citizenship and deported.

Weaving archive material and expert interviews with recreated courtroom drama using the transcripts of scientist Arthur Rudolph’s trial we learn about the Germans who led the moon shot, their wartime records, the cover-up that brought them to America, why it took forty years to investigate them, and why none of them were brought to trial….

CAST: Jim Norton, Cathy Belton, Marian Quinn, Alan Devine

“deftly researched docudrama”

Irish Film Review: Prisoners of the Moon

Papi Chulo

DIR/WRI: John Butler

Premiere @ Toronto International Film Festival 2018

In cinemas 7th June 2019


Cast adrift in Los Angeles, Sean — a lonely TV weatherman — drives past a middle-aged Latino migrant worker standing outside Home Depot looking for work. He decides to hire this kind-looking man — to be his friend. Sean is young, gay and white; Ernesto, portly, straight and married. Despite having nothing in common, they build a sort of friendship based on sign language, until Sean becomes consumed by a deep and obsessional attraction.

CAST: Matt Bomer, Alejandro Patiño

“ultimately a film about human connections, about the shared experiences of loneliness, loss, and unlikely friendships”

Irish Film Review: Papi Chulo

Float Like A Butterfly

DIR/WRI: Carmel Winters

Premiere @ Toronto International Film Festival 2018

In Cinemas 10th May 2019

Irish Traveller Francis has to fight for the right to pursue her passion…boxing. She is determined to make her idol Muhammad Ali proud, as well as her father who has recently been released from prison. But when she wants to show him just how tough she is, she soon comes to realise he’s got other plans for her.

CAST: Hazel Doupe, Dara Devaney, Johnny Collins

“captures humanity at its best and worst, offering a message of hope throughout.”

Read Loretta Goff’s review here

The Dig

DIR: Ryan Tohill, Andrew Tohill • WRI: Stuart Drennan

Premiere @ Toronto International Film Festival 2018

In Cinemas 26th April 2019

Convinced that Callahan buried his daughter in the bog land, the father has spent every day of the previous 15 years digging it patch by patch.

CAST: Moe Dunford, Emily Taaffe, Francis Magee, Lorcan Cranitch

“a bleak visceral experience”

Irish Film Review: The Dig


DIR: Neil Jordan • WRI: Neil Jordan, Ray Wright

Premiere @ Toronto International Film Festival 2018 

In Cinemas 19th April 2019

A sweet, naïve young woman making a go of it in the Big Apple, Frances doesn’t think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta, a peculiar pianist with a predilection for Romantic music and a desperate need for company. Frances recently lost her mother and feels alienated by her father; Greta has lost her husband, and her daughter lives far away. The two become fast friends — but that friendship rapidly assumes ever more sinister hues as Greta’s attentions escalate.

CAST: Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Isabelle Huppert.

” a polished, self-aware and highly diverting piece”

Irish Film Review: Greta

Don’t Go

DIR: David Gleeson • WRI: Ronan Blaney, David Gleeson

Premiere @ Galway Film Fleadh 2018

In Cinemas 12th April 2019

Ben Slater and his wife Hazel, in the wake of the tragic death of their daughter, Molly, retreat to the west coast of Ireland to build themselves a new life in a quaint hotel by the sea. However, there is no escape for Ben who is plagued by a recurring dream of a perfect day all three of them spent on the beach last summer. Ben becomes convinced that he can change the past through this dream and bring his little girl back. As his determination to bring Molly home grows, his grasp on reality slips and his sanity is questioned by those around him. Somewhere between dreams and reality lies the truth.

CAST: Stephen Dorff, Melissa George, Simon Delaney, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Charlotte Bradley, Luke Griffin

Out of Innocence

DIR/WRI: Danny Hiller

In Cinemas 12th April 2019

After a police investigation, a young mother, confused and scared, confesses to a crime she did not commit and is charged with murder. Based on real events in 1980’s Ireland.

CAST: Fiona Shaw, Alun Armstrong, Ruth McCabe

“puts its own harrowing spin on false truths. Women are persecuted from all aspects…”

Read Jemma Strain’s review here

The Limit Of

DIR/WRI: Alan Mulligan

In Cinemas 5th April 2019

James Allen is a successful, controlling, thirty-something banker living alone and working in Dublin city at the tail end of the recession. When a family tragedy occurs due to the ruthlessness of his employer, he takes decisive action to try to make things right.

Meanwhile, his enigmatic co-worker Alison has her own agenda, which puts her on a collision course with James, triggering and a dark spiral of deceit, revenge, and murder.

CAST: Alan Mulligan, Taine King, Tim Palmer, Anthony Mulligan

“an admirably bitter diatribe against the impersonal state of modern financial institutions”

Irish Film Review: The Limit Of

The Man Who Wanted to Fly

DIR: Frank Shouldice

Premiered @ Galway Film Fleadh 2018

In Cinemas 29th March 2019

Bobby Coote left school at 13 and spends most of his time in his back shed fixing clocks and making violins, but he has never lost sight of a lifelong dream to fly. He has cut a runway in a neighbour’s field and even built a hangar. And now he’s using his life savings to buy a plane! He gets no encouragement from his brother Ernie – another octogenarian in the Coote household, who thinks the whole thing is mad. But Bobby is determined to get airborne, even if it’s the last thing he does.

An Engineer Imagines

DIR: Marcus Robinson

In Cinemas 1st March 2109

Many of the world’s modern architectural treasures including the Sydney Opera House, the Lloyd’s Building in London, the Inverted Pyramid at the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre in Paris were made possible through the innovation of Irish engineer Peter Rice. A genius who stood in the shadow of architectural icons. Until now

The Hole in the Ground

DIR: Lee Cronin • WRI: Lee Cronin, Stephen Shields

Premiere @ Sundance Film Festival 2019

In Cinemas 1st March 2019

Trying to escape her broken past, Sarah O’Neill is building a new life on the fringes of a backwood rural town with her young son Chris. 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.

CAST: Sna Kerslake, James Quinn Markey

“superbly acted, lean and highly entertaining horror film, and a fine feature debut by Cronin”

Irish Film Review: The Hole in the Ground

Cellar Door

DIR/WRI: Viko Nikci

Premiere @ Cork Film Festival 2018

In Cinemas 25th January 2019

The story of young love to tortured loss and back again, the story follows Aidie a fighter inside and out – as she searches for her son while in the grip of the Church.

CAST: Karen Hassan, Mark O’ Halloran, Karen Hassan, Catherine Walker,  Ian McElhinney

“tackles the difficult topic of Irish institutional abuse, drawing connections in a thoughtful way and forcing the audience to think throughout”

Irish Film Review: Cellar Door


DIR: Mitko Panov • WRI: Mitko Panov, Wladyslaw Pasikowski, David Riker

In Cinemas 25th January 2019

A political thriller about an enthusiastic junior officer from The Hague War Tribunal in pursuit of justice. The arrest of General Miro Pantic ends a decade-long manhunt that had frustrated his Western pursuers and left festering one of the bloodiest chapters in Europe’s recent history. He had been indicted by a War Crimes Tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity, but when an envoy from The Hague  comes looking for an internal witness – Nikola Radin, alas The General – the problems begin. Getting out of the wilderness is not easy as no one wants The General to testify against Pantic, whom they perceive as their national hero. The bloody men-hunt will give a life-changing lesson to the young envoy who will understand that there are many more shades to what he thought was a black and white picture.

CAST: Pádraic Delaney, Natasha Petrovic, Bruno Ganz

The Favourite

DIR: Yorgos Lanthimos • WRI: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara

Premiere @ Venice International Film Festival 2018

In Cinemas 1st January 2019

Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfil her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.

CAST: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone

“a terse tale fit for the chaos of the times that’s unrepentant in its originality”

Read Michael Lee’ s review here

 Shooting the Darkness

DIR: Tom Burke

Irish Focus @ IFI 5th January 2019

Photographer Martin Nangle

Documentary centres on the men who unwittingly became war photographers on the streets of their own Northern Irish towns. Expecting a career of wedding photography and celebrity photocalls, the images they produced would come to define that conflict.

End of Sentence

DIR: Elfar Adalsteins WRI: Michael Armbruster

Premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

After being widowed, Frank Fogle reluctantly embarks on a journey to honor his wife’s last wish of spreading her ashes in a remote lake in her native Ireland and a promise of taking his estranged son, Sean, along for the trip. As Sean steps out of prison the last thing on his mind is a foreign road trip with his alienated father.

CAST: John Hawkes, Logan Lerman, Sarah Bolger

The Castle

DIR: Lina Lužytė


Set in Dublin, Monika has a dream to play a one in a lifetime concert. Her mother is sceptical and reluctant to support her daughter’s dreams, and so she sells their keyboard and forbids Monika from attending the concert. However, Monika stops at nothing to pursue her dream.

CAST: Barbora Bareikyte, Gabija Jaraminaite,  Jurate Onaityte

Dark Lies the Island

DIR: Ian Fitzgibbon WRI: Kevin Barry

Premiere at Dublin International Film Festival 2019

A long-standing family feud in a small Irish town over the course of a week.

CAST: Charlie Kelly, Pat Shortt, Peter Coonan

“Barry…is taking fantastical, heightened tropes that film fans like but is using them to explore contemporary themes like mental health and how patterns of emotional abuse develop within families.”

Review of Irish Film @ DIFF 2019: Dark Lies the Island

Dirty God

DIR: Sacha Polak WRI: Sacha Polak, Susie Farrell

Premiere @ Sundance Film Festival 2019

A young woman rebuilds her life after an acid attack leaves her with severe facial burns.

CAST: Vicky Knight, Katherine Kelly, Rebecca Stone, Bluey Robinson, Dana Marineci

“Sacha Polack, as director and producer of this truly beautiful film has wrought a stunning piece of cinematic mastery”

Review of Irish Film @ DIFF 2019: Dirty God

A Girl From Mogadishu

Mary McGuckian

Premiere at Dublin International Film Festival 2019

Based on the real life story of Ifrah Ahmed – youth leader and advocate against Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia and Horn of Africa.


Alexandra McGuinness


When her best friend goes missing at a rodeo, Heidi goes on a search across the desert, digging up secrets and encountering the violence of life on the road.

CAST: Lucy Fry, Eiza González, Christian Camargo

Here Are the Young Men

DIR/WRI: Eoin Macken


Dublin teenagers Matthew, nihilistic Rez, and the deranged Kearney, leave school to a social vacuum of drinking and drugs, falling into shocking acts of transgression.

CAST: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

Sea Fever

DIR/WRI: Neasa Hardiman


Bild: Anders Ylander

The crew of a West of Ireland trawler, marooned at sea, struggle for their lives against a growing parasite in their water supply.

CAST: Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott.

 Shooting the Mafia

DIR: Kim Longinotto

Premiere @ Sundance Film Festival 2019

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

In sharp contrast to the all pervasive romanticised and glamorised media image of the Sicilian Mafia, Shooting the Mafia, unflinchingly explores the stark reality of life, and death, under the oppressive yoke of the Corleonesi Mafia.

“explores the possibilities of art as a tool for challenging violence”

Review of Irish Film @ DIFF 2019: Shooting the Mafia

The Last Right (Aoife Crehan)



Wildfire (Cathy Brady)


The story of two sisters who grew up on the fractious Irish border. When one of them, who has gone missing, finally returns home, the intense bond with her sister is re-ignited. Together they unearth their mother’s past, but as they uncover the secrets and resentments that have been buried deep down, it all threatens to overwhelm them.

CAST: Nika McGuigan, Nora-Jane Noone


DIR: Lorcan Finnegan WRI: Garret Shanley

Premiere @ Cannes 2019

A couple looking for the perfect home, find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

CAST: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, Jack Hudson

A Dog Called Money

DIR: Seamus Murphy

Premiere @  Berlinale 2019

Chronicles the recording of PJ Harvey’s The Hope Six Demolition Project in London, as well as Harvey and photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy’s travels in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington D.C.

Calm With Horses

DIR: Nick Rowland WRI: Joe Murtagh


In darkest rural Ireland, ex-boxer Arm has become the feared enforcer for the drug dealing Devers family, whilst also trying to be a good father to his autistic five year-old son, Jack. Torn between these two families, Arm is asked to kill for the first time, and his attempt to do the right thing endangers everyone he holds dear.

CAST: Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, Ned Dennehy, Cosmo Jarvis, Hazel Doupe

Rose Plays Julie

DIR/WRI: Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy


Rose  is at university studying veterinary science. An only child, she has enjoyed a loving relationship with her adoptive parents. However, for as long as Rose can remember she has wanted to know who her biological parents are and the facts of her true identity. After years trying to trace her birth mother, Rose now has a name and a number. All she has to do is pick up the phone and call. When she does it quickly becomes clear that her birth mother has no wish to have any contact. Rose is shattered. A renewed and deepened sense of rejection compels her to keep going. Rose travels from Dublin to London in an effort to confront her birth mother, Ellen and learns a secret that has been kept hidden for over 20 years.

CAST: Ann Skelly, Orla Brady, Aidan Gillen, Annabell Rickerby


DIR/WRI: Tom O’Sullivan


Set during the famine, a man loses everything and is accused of a murder. On the run for three years and with the help of a mysterious girl he attempts to rebuild his life. However, his past however comes back to haunt him.



DIR: Dathai Keane, Pierce Boyce WRI: Dathai Keane, Diarmuid de Faoite


Micí Phincí Ó Foghlú is a young musician with a tragic past who is crippled in a car accident and given a chance at redemption when he is recruited by a violent, avant-garde circus.

Ooops! Back In The Deep End
Toby Genkel, Sean McCormack



DIR: Peter Mackie Burns WRI: Mark O’Halloran


In the wake of his father’s death, Colm must come to terms with his actions and find the resolve to halt the crumbing facade of his home, his family, and everything he has built.

CAST: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Tom Glynn-Carney, Monica Dolan

If you have a film set for release in cinemas this year and would like us to feature it, email


Preview of Irish Films @ Dublin International Film Festival 2019

It’s always the best way to kick the new year into gear when the Dublin International Film Festival announce their schedule. This year there are treats, goodies and film fun for all. Below we take a gander at the Irish films hitting the festival screens.

The festival runs 20 February – 3 March 2019.


Papi Chulo (DIR/WRI: John Butler)

WED 20 FEB/6:00PM/8:30pm CINEWORLD

Papi Chulo

A solitary and alienated television weatherman “hires” a middle-aged Latino migrant worker to be his friend, in this darkly comedic reflection on class, ethnicity, and companionship in contemporary Los Angeles.

CAST: Matt Bomer, Alejandro Patiño, Elena Campbell-Martinez

Tickets (6pm)

Tickets (8.30pm)

When Hitchcock Met O’Casey (Brian O’Flaherty)


When Hitchcock Met O’Casey

It was a collaboration between one of Ireland’s most noted playwrights and cinema’s greatest directors, yet the 1930 release of Juno and the Paycock is often neglected in the repertoire of both men. Brian O’Flaherty’s documentary aims to find out why.


Dublin on Screen

The First Was a Boy (Shaun Dunne) / Confinement(Trish McAdam) / There’s No Place Like Home (Mia Mullarkey and the Screen8 Participants)

Dublin on Screen

A Girl From Mogadishu (Mary McGuckian)

Fri 22nd/8:30pm/Odeon Point Village 2

Based on the real life story of Ifrah Ahmed – youth leader and advocate against Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia and Horn of Africa.

CastAja Naomi King, Barkhad Abdi, Martha Canga Antonio

Dub Daze (DIR/WRI: Shane J. Collins)


Dub Daze

Dan and Baz are two friends looking for kicks on their last day of school. Cork medical students Jack and Seán arrive in the capital to find their way amongst Ireland’s affluent youth, while songwriter Fi struggles to break through on the cut-throat Dublin music scene.

CAST: Jack Hudson, Derek Ugochukwu, Abdul Alshareef

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 1 (Various)

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 1

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 2 (Various)

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 2


Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 3 (Various)

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 3

Floating Structures (Feargal Ward, Adrian Duncan)

Floating Structures
A researcher travels across Europe, exploring an array of buildings and structures that seem other-worldly. Drawing on the ideas and visions of the great Irish engineer Peter Rice, the film explore the hinterlands that gave rise to these structures. Wandering from a quiet Bavarian town, to the streets of Paris, to the city of Seville, our past is sifted through and interlinked with precision and wonder


What Time is Death? (Paul Duane)

What Time is Death?
In 2017 Bill Drummond & Jimmy Cauty, formerly The KLF, returned after 23 years of silence – but they were no longer a pop group. They were now undertakers, planning to build a monument, the People’s Pyramid, out of 34,952 bricks made from the remains of dead people.


Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 4 (Various)

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 4

Dark Lies the Island (DIR: Ian Fitzgibbon WRI: Kevin Barry)

Dark Lies the Island
If you’re going to get involved with men in a small Irish town, they might as well be the Mannions – and Sara is involved up to her neck. The Mannions are a feuding family in the town of Dromord who are all set at each other. Sara is married to Daddy Mannion but holding a candle for her first love, his son Doggy. When she also gets involved with his brother, trouble looms.


CAST: Peter Coonan, Charlie Murphy, Pat Shortt, Moe Dunford


Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 5 (Various)

Virgin Media DIFF Shorts 5

Land Without God (Gerard Mannix Flynn, Maedhbh McMahon, Lotta Petronella)

Land Without God
This deeply personal documentary feature is a culmination of Mannix Flynn’s writings and experiences spanning over four decades. The film centres on Flynn and members of his own family as they recall the effects of decades of institutional abuse, and the impact it has had – and continues to have – on their lives.  The film asks the question: How does one exit the trauma buried deep in the bones of generations? A family’s journey into the dark side of the Irish State.


She’s Missing (DIR/WRI: Alexandra McGuinness)

She’s Missing
Heidi’s best friend goes missing at a rodeo after meeting a mysterious man. Determined to find out what happened to her, she sets out across the desert, unveiling astonishing secrets and encountering the unexpected violence of life on the road. Crossing paths with several characters along the way, Heidi is determined to find her friend – but there’s an ominous presence on her tail.


CAST: Lucy Fry, Eiza González, Josh Hartnett, Christian Camargo


GAZA (Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell)

A portrait of the resilience of people in the most challenging of circumstances. Set among the communities who live in Gaza, the documentary aims to go beyond the reach of television news and politics in its account of these people and their daily lives. It’s the story of eloquent, funny and above all ordinary people as they endeavour to live meaningful lives in the shadows of perpetual conflict


Prisoners of the Moon (Johnny Gogan)

SAT 2nd Mar/4:30PM/Light House Cinema

This drama/creative documentary brings to life the story of Arthur Rudolph, a scientist who played a key role in NASA’s historic 1969 moon landing. He was one of a number of Nazi rocket scientists who assisted America as they tried to win the space race. The film examines Rudolph’s work and alleged involvement in war crimes, and screens as the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing approaches.

CAST: Jim Norton, Cathy Belton, Marty Rea


Greta (DIR: Neil Jordan WRI: Neil Jordan, Ray Wright)



A sweet, naïve young woman is trying to make it on her own in New York City, Frances doesn’t think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta an eccentric French piano teacher with a love for classical music and an aching loneliness. Having recently lost her mother, Frances quickly grows closer to widowed Greta. The two become fast friends – but Greta’s maternal charms begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta’s life is what it seems.

CAST: Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Isabelle Huppert


Shooting the Mafia (Kim Longinotto)


Shooting the Mafia

This documentary strips back the glamorous image of the Sicilian Mafia, showing the harsh reality of life, death and business at the hands of those who wield it. It does so through the eyes and lens of photographer Letizia Battaglia, who captured their brutality on her own terms. Fear and threats did not prevent her from documenting what has been described as her “archive of blood” in all of its raw power.


Dirty God (DIR: Sacha Polak WRI: Susie Farrell, Sacha Polak)

Sun 3rd MAR/ 5:30pm/Light House Cinema

A young mother aims to rebuild her life following a vicious acid attack which left her seriously injured and with life-changing facial burns. As the impacts of her trauma on family life and relationships make themselves felt, she must dig deep to get her life back. In the lead role, Polak has cast newcomer Vicky Knight, herself a burns survivor.

CAST: Eliza Brady-Girard, Dana Marineci, Wendy Albiston


Download programme here


Film Festivals 2019 – Here & Abroad

Keep an eye on film festivals here and Irish film festivals abroad


Film Festivals in Ireland:

Dublin Smartphone Film Festival (26th January 2019)

Subtitle European Film Festival (31st January – 3rd February 2019)

Psychoanalytic Film Festival (1 – 2 February 2019)

Silk Road Film FestivalDublin (5 – 9 February)

Rathmullan Film Fest Donegal (21 – 24 February 2019)

VM Dublin International Film Festival (20 February – 03 March 2019)

Cork French Film Festival (3 – 10 March 2019)

First Cut! Youth Film Festival (6 – 9 March 2019)

Killarney Mountain Festival  ( 10 March 2019)

See You Next Thursday Festival  (from 14th March on)

Dingle International Film Festival (21  24 March 2019)

Fresh Film Festival Limerick (25  30 March 2019)

Irish Adventure Film Festival  Westport, Co. Mayo (29 – 31 March  2019) 

International Student Documentary Festival  Cork (2 – 5 April)

East Asia Film Festival Ireland Dublin (11 – 14 April 2019)

Belfast Film Festival (11 20 April 2019)

Japanese Film Festival (6th April onwards nationwide)

Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival Dublin (May – June)

Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival Cork (22 – 26 May 2019)

Korean Film Festival Ireland (13 – 15 June 2019)

China Ireland International Film Festival (24 – 29 June 2019)

Beara Film Fest (6th July 2019)

Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July 2019)

IFI Family Festival Dublin (26 – 28 July 2019)

Radical Film Network Conference Dublin (TBA)

GAZE International LGBT Film Festival Dublin (1  5 August 2019)

Respect Human Rights Film Festival Belfast (TBA)

Still Voices Short Film Festival Longford (15 – 18 August 2019)

Dublin Feminist Film Festival Dublin (22 24 August 2019)

Charlie Chaplin Comedy Festival Kerry  (23 – 25 August 2019)

Ireland Wildlife Film Festival Cork (14th September 2019)

Underground Cinema Festival Dublin  (31st August – 2nd September 2019)

Clare Island Film Festival (TBA)

Wexford Documentary Film Festival (TBA)

Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival Belfast (1st October – 3rd November 2019)

Guth Gafa Meath (20 – 22 September 2019)

IFI Documentary Festival  Dublin (26 – 29 September 2019)

Disappear Here Film Festival Donegal (27 – 29 September)

Spook Scene Cork  (TBA)

Dublin International Short Film and Music Festival (4 – 6 October 2019)

Dublin Arabic Film Festival (TBA)

IndieCork (6 – 13 October 2019)

OFFline Offaly (9 – 13 October 2019)

Dublin Greek Film Festival  (TBA)

Kerry Film Festival (17 21 October 2019)

The Clones Film Festival (25 28 October 2019)

Richard Harris International Film Festival Limerick (22 – 28 October 2019)

Limerick Film Festival (TBA)

IFI Horrorthon Dublin (24 – 28 October 2019)

Light Moves Festival (TBA)

Iffy Short Film Festival Dublin (6th July & November 2019)

Cork Film Festival (7 – 17 November 2019)

Subtitle European Film Kilkenny (25th November  1st December 2019)

Waterford Film Festival (22 – 24 November 2019)

Luminous Void Experimental Film Festival Dublin (TBA)

Junior Galway Film Fleadh (TBA)

Foyle Film Festival Derry (TBA)

IFI French Film Festival Dublin (TBA)

KINOPOLIS Polish Film Festival Dublin (TBA)


Irish Film Festivals Abroad:

Irish Film Festival New Jersey (8 – 9 February 2019)

Capital Irish Film Festival Washington (28th February – 3rd March 2019)

Chicago Irish Film Festival (28th February – 3rd March 2019)

Toronto Irish Film Festival (1 – 3 March 2019)

Irish Film Festival Boston (22 – 24 March 2019)

Irish Film Festa Rome (27 – 31 March 2019)

Irish Film Festival Ottawa (29 – 31 March 2019)

Irish Film Festival Sydney (1 – 5 May), Melbourne (9 – 12 May 2019)

Irish Reels Film Festival Seattle (16 – 17 March 2019)

Celtic Media Festival Isle Aviemore  (4 – 6 June 2019)

Baton Rouge Irish Film Festival (26 – 27 July 2019)

British & Irish Film Festival (13-22 September 2019)

Syracuse Contemporary Irish Film Festival (13 – 16 November 2019))

Festival of Irish CinemaWarsaw (TBA)

San Francisco Irish Film Festival(TBA)

The Irish American Movie Hooley   (TBA)

Irish Reels Film Festival Seattle (TBA)

Irish Screen AmericaLos Angeles(TBA)

Irish Screen America New York  (TBA)

Irish Film Festival London(TBA)

Vancouver Irish Film Festival (TBA)

This list will be updated throughout the year as festival dates are announced.

If there’s a festival you are involved with or know of that we haven’t listed, please do let us know at


Irish Films of 2018

It has been a great year for Irish film. Black 47 took over €1 million in the Irish box office making it the highest grossing Irish film of the year reimagining Irish history in a Western-style, action-packed revenge thriller. Dublin Old School took us back to the not-so-distant past, where the older ravers among us could relive those drug-taking days to the visceral soundtrack of their youth. We were brought bang up-to-date with Paddy Breathnach’s emotionally-charged Rosie, a feature reflecting on the human fall-out from our current housing crisis. That left Aoife McArdle to haunt our dreams, with her hallucinatory representation of the journey from teen to adult; Kissing Candice was a confident debut from a talented filmmaker that we look forward to seeing more of.

Documentary continued to shine a light on a variety of subjects close to Irish hearts, such as Katrina Costello’s The Silver Branch, which expressed a romantic and beautiful declaration of love for nature and Ireland’s rich historical connection to the land. Land was also at the heart of The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, a fascinating study of one man’s fight against the state for his land. Ross Whittaker’s Katie takes off the gloves and delivers an emotional, honest retelling of one of our countries biggest success stories to date – the phoenix that is Katie Taylor. Meanwhile Donal Foreman’s The Image You Missed was a deeply personal exploration of documentarist Arthur MacCaig, Foreman’s deceased father. And there was Sinead O’Shea’s gripping film A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot, an absorbing study of a post-peace-process Derry




” timely, well executed and – more than anything else – important.” 


Michael Inside

“Dafhyd Flynn delivers an understated, emotional performance as Michael. Quiet and contemplative, his vulnerability is made evident as his incarceration looms.”

(Loretta Goff)


Dublin OldSchool

” will have you sucking on your soother necklace.”

(Gemma Creagh)


Black 47

 “a rollicking western with fantastic action and excellent performances”

(Sarah Cullen)


Kissing Candice

 “a visual thrill”

Stephen Porzio



The Silver Branch

“a testament to patience, determination and love of a place.”

(Ruth McNally )


The Image You Missed

“engaging and evocative in both form and content.”

(Siomha McQuinn)



“a beautiful, complex piece of cinema, as nuanced and fascinating as the superstar herself.”

(Gemma Creagh)


The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid

“a rebel with a cause”

A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot

“compelling, challenging and at times chilling.”

(Siomha McQuinn)



Capital Irish Film Festival: Editor, Tony Cranstoun

John Collins spoke to Tony Cranstoun, editor of A Date for Mad Mary and The Farthest, which closed this year’s Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington D.C. John was good enough to send us on his recording of their conversation.

The Farthest chronicles NASA’s 1977 launch of twin space probes, sent to capture images of remote planets and bear messages from Earth.

The Farthest screened on 4th March 2018 as part of the Capital Irish Film Festival


Film Ireland Podcasts


InConversation: Tony Cranstoun


The Belly of The Whale, Director Morgan Bushe & Actor Lewis MacDougall

Set over a long bank holiday weekend, misfit teenager, Joey Moody, returns to his home town in a bid to reopen his family’s crumbling caravan park and salvage his friendship with his best friend, Lanks. Meanwhile, on a mission to find the money to cover his wife’s medical expenses, Ronald Tanner, a fractured soul, risks his meagre life savings on a get rich quick scheme that ends in abject failure and humiliation at the hands of local big shot Gits Hegarty, pushing Ronald over the edge and off the wagon. After Joey accidentally burns down Ronald’s camper van and is forced to find the cash to repay him, the strange pair find themselves bonded together in misfortune. In an effort to change their shabby circumstances they concoct a plan to rob the Pleasurama, the local amusement arcade, and the domain of the iniquitous Gits.



Gemma Creagh chats to Morgan Bushe about The Belly of the Whale, his debut feature as a director and Lewis MacDougall about his role as Joey.

The Belly of the Whale is currently in cinemas



Film Ireland Podcasts


Irish Film Review @ Cork Film Festival: The Curious Works of Roger Doyle


Loretta Goff goes on a journey through The Curious Works of Roger Doyle, Brian Lally’s documentary about Roger Doyle who, over the course of five decades, has created an impressive body of work ranging from minimalist piano and electronic pieces to orchestral works.

Preceding the screening of The Curious Works of Roger Doyle at the 63rd Cork Film Festival, Roger Doyle himself performed live on the piano. Doyle synched this performance with footage of himself in concert in Beijing six years earlier (in 2012), material that was cut from the documentary. As the onscreen Doyle plays, he is superimposed with images of and from a moving train, visually mirroring the motion of his fast-paced music. This synchronicity was echoed through Doyle’s live performance, creating a synergy between the digital and the human, as well as the old and the new—something that pervades both Doyle’s work and Brian Lally’s documentary about the composer.

The Curious Works of Roger Doyle is framed around Doyle’s 2016 electronic opera, “Heresy”, performed at Dublin’s Project Arts Centre, but covers five decades of his career. This intertwining of the current and the previous reflects Doyle’s style as a composer, bringing together classical forms and instruments (e.g. opera and the piano) with electronic technology to create his own style. Interspersed with footage of his opera—from the early stages of its approval and rehearsals to its live performances—are interviews with Doyle’s collaborators over the years, archival footage and several of his past performances. Though dubbed the “Godfather of Irish Electronica”, Doyle’s music has taken him across the world and we see that in the film.

Lally gives space to the music in this documentary, setting aside several sections for Doyle’s performances to play out onscreen. These are often combined with corresponding images that help tell the story of the songs to the audience. For instance, as Doyle plays his song “Chalant” in Paris, shots of the city and its people at night populate the screen. As new faces appear with each beat, a whimsical portrait of the city unfolds. While this shapes our perspective of the song, each musical break in the documentary primarily focuses on the music itself, allowing the audience to become immersed in it and reflect. Doyle’s music invites its listeners to take part in an experience and Lally’s documentary allows for this.

At the same time, we learn about the methods and motives behind the music from both Doyle and his collaborators. Doyle describes the influences behind several of his songs and his use of technology, explaining: “I revise, that’s my process”. Olwen Fouéré, who formed Operating Theatre with him, describes his music as “from the mothership”, noting how their unique styles connected in such a way that allowed them to create musical theatre pieces together for several years.

Equally, several of Ireland’s prominent filmmakers in the 1970s were drawn to Doyle’s music. In fact, Bob Quinn, who collaborated with Doyle several times, also used the composer as a subject of a 1978 documentary for RTÉ. Joe Comerford, who grew up with Doyle, explains that they worked in parallel on the short experimental film Emptigon, simultaneously developing a language of film and composition. A similar sentiment is expressed by Cathal Black, who explains that music creates “a sort of invisible story” in film and Doyle’s was able to perfectly match the film’s narrative in Pigs.

In Lally’s impressive documentary, the story of the music is much more visible and, during the Q&A following the screening, the director expressed that, though he did most of the work on the film, he had Windmill Lane work on the sound mix as that was “quite important” for this project. Equally it was Doyle’s music that inspired the project. Lally became aware of Doyle’s work in the early 1990s but started the documentary in 2005 when he saw Doyle playing goldfish bowls at Whelan’s in Dublin and thought: “this is remarkable, someone should be filming this.”

Describing Doyle as an “avant-garde” composer, Lally explained: “the more I delved into it, the more fascinated I became”, noting that, particularly when he struggled to find funding for the project, “there were certainly points when the music kept me going.” Screen Ireland funding eventually saw the documentary through to completion and the result is a thoughtful exploration of Roger Doyle’s music and career. As Doyle expressed in the Q&A: “I am constantly curious and constantly looking for new ways of doing things.” The Curious Works of Roger Doyle expresses just that, bringing the audience along for the journey.


The Curious Works of Roger Doyle screened on Sunday, 11th November 2018 as part of the Cork Film Festival (9 – 18 November)


Irish Film Preview @ 2018 Cork Film Festival

The 63rd Cork Film Festival, running from 9-18 November, is jam-packed with a range of fabulous Irish and international films.

Below we take a peek at the Irish films screening at this year’s festival, including Carmel Winters’ highly anticipated and award-winning second feature Float like a Butterfly, the Irish premiere of Yorgos Lanthimos’ feminist comedy The Favourite and The Dig.


Float Like a Butterfly (Carmel Winters)

09/11/2018 – 19:30 & 10/11/2018 – 16:00

In rural Ireland during the 1960s, Frances  is a teenage Traveller who has coped with tragedy from a young age. With her father Michael in prison, she has learnt to fend for herself and her devotion to Muhammad Ali has inspired a passion for boxing. When Michael is released, though, he has forthright opinions about how a young woman should behave. As Michael decides to uproot his family and go roaming, fiery Frances begins her own journey of discovery.

Cast: Hazel Doupe, Dara Devaney, Johnny Collins


Irish Shorts 1 

10/11/2018 – 14:00

Films Screenings & Tickets

Sooner or Later (Luke Morgan)

10/11/2018 – 19:00

With the unwitting assistance of his granddaughter Alice, the roguish and cantankerous Thaddeus and his girlfriend Sally escape from their nursing home to carry out their plan in a coastal hideaway. It’s unusual for a debut director to focus in on themes of death and ageing, albeit in a comic drama, but it is to Morgan and his leads’ credit that they do so with little vanity.

Cast:  Aeneas O’Donnell, Muireann Ní Raghaillagh, Anna O’Donnell, Peter Shine


The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)

10/11/2018 – 21:00

England, 1704, and Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) heads a country at war. While her army battles the French, there are squabbles in her parliament between the hawkish Whigs and the landowning Tories. In poor health, Anne relies heavily on confidante  Lady Marlborough  (Rachel Weisz), though when poor relation Abigail (Emma Stone) starts gaining influence at court a dual of wit begins, with the queen’s affections dangled as a prize.

Cast:  Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone


Jumpman (Ivan I Tverdovskiy) 

10/11/2018 – 21:15

Russian teen Denis lives in an orphanage where he and his friends play at testing how much pain Denis can withstand, and Denis just happens to have an almost superhuman resistance to pain. One day, to Denis’ delight, his mother Oksana arrives to take him out of the orphanage to live with her. However, will Oksana’s ulterior motives for springing Denis from the orphanage threaten their relationship?

Cast:  Vilma Kutaviciute, Anna Slyu, Daniil Steklov


The Curious Works of Roger Doyle (Brian Lally)

11/11/2018 – 12:15

Known as ‘The Godfather of Irish Electronica,’ Roger Doyle has, over the course of five decades, created an impressive body of work ranging from minimalist piano and electronic pieces to orchestral works. Doyle might have been alone in his chosen field but he has always surrounded himself with remarkable creative types, forming Operating Theatre with Olwen Fouéré as well as providing distinctive soundtracks for the exciting wave of late 70s Irish filmmakers such as Bob Quinn, Cathal Black and Joe Comerford. And here he is captured embarking on Ireland’s first electronic opera.


Irish Shorts 2 

11/11/2018 – 14:45

Films Screenings & Tickets

Cellar Door (Viko Nikci)

11/11/2018 – 20:30 & 12/11/2018 – 16:15

Aidie doesn’t know who or where she is. As she searches for a baby that she may or may not have had, and who may have been taken from her, she struggles to decipher her past by repeatedly re-visiting it: dancing with her lover Aidan, visiting her artist mother, escaping from the unmarried mothers’ home and being in various stages of pregnancy, childbirth and searching for her child. Constantly at sea but tantalisingly close to the truth, revelation comes in a surprising and poignant ending that provides a fragile anchor for Aidie, through an exploration of love regained and loss re-lived.

Cast:  Karen Hassan, Catherine Walker


Free Radicals 

12/11/2018 – 20:30

A selection of experimental film works to disturb and delight. In memory of Josephine Massarella 1957 – 2018.
Please note this programme features the use of stroboscopic effects.

Films screenings & Tickets

Irish Shorts 3 

13/11/2018 – 13:45

Films Screenings & Tickets

Town of Strangers (Treasa O’Brien)

13/11/2018 – 20:30

Using the device of an open-call film audition to meet the locals in the County Galway town of Gort, this documentary encounters a diverse cast, including young Irish Travellers, English New Age hippies, Brazilian factory workers and Syrian refugees and asks them to share their dreams and stories.


Irish Shorts 4 

14/11/2018 – 15:45

Films Screenings & Tickets

Five Red Roses – One for Every Syllable of Your Name (Cathal Black)

14/11/2018 – 18:30

Máirín de Burca’s name may only be familiar to a certain generation but, in the current era of social justice and women’s rights activism this documentary is nothing if not timely. An imposing figure, de Burca held the post of Sinn Fein Secretary General before turning her focus on social action and feminist causes in the 70s and founding the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement.


Irish Shorts 5 

15/11/2018 – 15:45


Films Screenings & Tickets

Maeve (Pat Murphy)

15/11/2018 – 18:00

Pat Murphy, Film Artist in Residence at UCC and one of Ireland’s most radical filmmakers, best describes her debut feature: ‘Maeve was asking how does a woman position herself against the background of what was going on in the North and within the history of republicanism and memory and landscape. At the time, people were pushing competing narratives. But my experience was that there was no clear narrative, only a fractured one. I was influenced by Godard and Brecht. But, more than that, with Maeve, anytime I sat down and tried to create a straightforward film with a beginning, middle and end, it just wouldn’t work.’

Cast:  Mary Jackson, Mark Mulholland, Brid Brennan


The Dig 

15/11/2018 – 20:45 & 16/11/2018 – 13:30

In the Tohill brothers’ tense drama, Callahan returns to his abandoned family farm-home having served 15 years for murder. His plan to sell up and move on is thwarted by the presence of the victim’s father on his land. Convinced that Callahan buried his daughter in the bog land, the father has spent every day of the previous 15 years digging it patch by patch. Knowing the only way he’ll get him off his land, and perhaps satisfy his own alcohol-shot recollection of events, Callahan joins him in the grim task. Dark secrets eventually surface.

Cast:  Moe Dunford, Emily Taaffe, Francis Magee and Lorcan Cranitch


Irish Shorts 6 

16/11/2018 – 16:00


Films Screenings & Tickets

The Belly of the Whale (Morgan Bushe) 

16/11/2018 – 21:00

Having been sent away from his home following a tragedy some years before, 15-year-old Joey Moody  returns to the now-derelict caravan park his parents once ran in rural Ireland. With a notion to revive the place, though lacking the wherewithal to do it, he finds himself committed to an unlikely partnership with Ronald Tanner, a recovering alcoholic struggling to raise funds to help his sick wife. Resentment for corrupt arcade owner and aspiring politician Gits unites the pair

Cast:  Art Parkinson, Michael Smiley, Lewis MacDougall


The Overcoat 

17/11/2018 – 11:30

When a grandfather offers his shabby old overcoat as a Christmas present to his disappointed granddaughter it reminds him of a story he was told from the old country, Russia, about Akaky, a lowly and lonely office worker whose purchase of an extravagant overcoat makes him the centre of attention. But then, fate takes a ghostly hand…

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Alfred Molina, Michael McElhatton, Fiona O’Shaughnessy


One Million American Dreams (Brendan Byrne)

17/11/2018 – 13:15

Though Hart Island has been mythicized by New Yorkers for over two centuries, for the over one million people who are buried here, there has been no eulogy. Laying claim to the unclaimed dead, they are interred in trenches; without memorial or ritual. Through the vignettes of four families reconciling the plight of their kin buried on the island, One Million American Dreams captures the alienation and anonymity of the city of New York through honest reflections on the rich tapestry of lives of those who find their final resting place here.


Cork On Camera 

17/11/2018 – 14:45

An exciting new programme of short films from the collections of the IFI Irish Film Archive. The programme features a wide range of films about Cork city and county and includes: silent films of Patrick St. and Cork Harbour in 1902; local newsreels by the Horgan Brothers from Youghal (1910s); the charming Oscar®-nominated Three Kisses about a young Cork hurler (1955); a lively canoeing film, Blackwater Holiday (1964); the elegiac Irish Village about Crookhaven in 1959; and a series of Amharc Éireann newsreels from the 1960s. The silent element of the programme will be accompanied by pianist Morgan Cooke.

Films Screenings & Tickets

Technology, Nature and the Essay Film Form 

17/11/2018 – 15:15

Three non-fiction films linked by shared themes of man’s interaction with nature and distinct formal approaches.

Films Screenings & Tickets

Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland World Premiere Shorts 

17/11/2018 – 16:00

Premiere screening of short films produced under Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland’s Focus Shorts and Real Shorts schemes.

Films Screenings & Tickets

Best of Cork 

18/11/2018 – 15:00

Films Screenings & Tickets


Full festival programme here


Irish Film Review: Good Favour


DIR: Rebecca Daly • WRI: Rebecca Daly, Glenn Montgomery • DOP: Tibor Dingelstad • ED: Tony Cranstoun • PRO: Conor Barry, John Keville, Benoit Roland • MUS: Rutger Reinders • CAST: Vincent Romeo, Lars Brygmann, Clara Rugaard

From its stark opening shot of a looming column of trees, foreboding and seemingly impenetrable, Rebecca Daly’s Good Favour establishes itself as a film that is both visually striking and unsettling in tone.

It is from these woods that a young man (Vincent Romeo), emerges like a spectre, gaunt and malnourished. He staggers his way into a small, rural settlement which appears to be abandoned but, as he soon discovers, is home to a deeply-Christian farming community who take him in as a requirement of their faith. We learn that the young man’s name is Tom, but his past is unknown. Whether he simply doesn’t remember or doesn’t wish to speak about it, is unclear, and this only adds to the mysterious, enigmatic aura that surrounds him. He is met with both distrust and fascination by the members of the community, chief among whom are religious leader Mikkel (Lars Brygmann), his brother Hans (Alexandre Willaume), Hans’s wife Maria (Victoria Mayer), and their eldest daughter, Shosanna (Clara Rugaard).

Mikkel is quick to welcome Tom into the community, and Maria seems content to follow his example. Hans, however, is outwardly suspicious of the stranger in their midst and treats him with reservation. It is thus unsurprising that the thread of ‘otherness’ runs strongly throughout the film, with Tom as its origin. His sudden presence in this close-knit, secluded community, along with his often intense gaze and subdued way of speaking, mark him as peculiar.

Despite skepticism, Tom is able to make steps to integrate himself into the community. The children in particular are enthralled with this newcomer, and we see in their acceptance of him a comment on the ability of the young to look beyond damaging prejudices. Tom also forms a friendship with Shosanna, and their developing relationship eventually shows itself to have its own startling consequences. The first third or so of the film deals with Tom’s struggle to adjust from his isolation to this codependent, intimate way of life, and his presence inevitably disturbs the rhythm of the community. Quite literally, at one point, when the sounds of his hammering to split a tree trunk disrupt and distract the choir practicing in the nearby schoolroom.

This disturbance is underlain by the suggestion that the community may have its own share of secrets. We are given mention of a young boy named Isaac who disappeared in the woods, and Mikkel’s own mother is gravely ill, but he refuses to take her to the hospital despite the wishes of his father. Using this sense of ambivalence, Daly paints the community in such murky colors that its true nature remains unclear. Is it a simple farming settlement content to keep itself to itself? Or are its people more prisoners than inhabitants?

Adding to this uncertainty are startling images of violence and death that are used to great effect. The body of a stillborn calf being tossed into a container of rotting meat, the corpse of a stag that has been struck by a vehicle, even the invasion of bees into Mikkel’s mother’s sickroom, all highlight a grim clash between nature and settlement, and one begins to wonder at the constant misfortune that the community is struck by.

Noteworthy also is how utterly quiet the film is. There is little to no soundtrack, and the backdrop of silence gives the impression of the film holding its breath, which is well-suited to its tones of suspense and unease. The rare occurrences of background music usually accompany a moment of closeness or intimacy between Tom and one of the principal characters, illustrating the significance of his arrival into their lives. But even Tom’s ultimate role is unclear. Did he simply stumble upon the town or was he brought to it? Will the community have saved him, or will he find a way to save them?

Similar to Daly’s film The Other Side of Sleep, Good Favour is not necessarily concerned with providing answers, content to let the audience speculate, assume, and be startled. The film’s undeniably slow pace is not to its detriment; rather it allows the audience an intimate look into the secluded lives of its characters and their tribulations, interspersed with stunning shots of the landscape that surrounds them. A lone tree in a field at sunset or a cliff-top view of untamable woods become as integral to the narrative as the characters themselves.

Aided by strong performances from the main cast (in particular the strikingly expressive Vincent Romeo), Good Favour is a powerful and gripping film that explores the deep complexities of faith and its consequences, particularly in the face of crisis.

Dakota Heveron

100 minutes
12A (see IFCO for details)
 Good Favour is released 9th November 2018





Aislinn Clarke, Director of ‘The Devil’s Doorway’


In the autumn of 1960, Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton were sent by the Vatican to investigate a miraculous event in an Irish home for “fallen women”, They uncovered something much more horrific however, as their attention turned to a 16-year-old pregnant girl exhibiting signs of demonic possession.

Ahead of its screening at this year’s IFI Horrorthon, David Prendeville spoke to director Aislinn Clarke about her debut feature, The Devil’s Doorway.


How did the idea come about to make a film set in the Magdalene laundries and then how did it come about that it would be a found footage film?

In the initial stage the producer came to me. There was no script or anything at that point. He had an idea and he gave me a page-long pitch which was to do a modern-day horror partly set in an abandoned Magdalene laundry and shot on mostly GoPro so it would have been more like something like Grave Encounters. My feeling was that I didn’t think that was the film that I wanted to make but I felt there was something interesting to be done with the Magdalene laundries. I thought if you’re going to do a film about the Magdalene laundries you should go back to the ’60s, when there was the most people there and get into the heart of the human drama of those places rather than having the girls as spectres now as a kind of afterthought. I think all good horror has in its heart real human drama. I think it shouldn’t come afterwards, it should be the primary concern. If you look at something like Hereditary, it started out like a family drama and then came in the horror elements, not the other way around so I felt that would be the strongest way to do it. I’m a big horror fan, I watch everything. I know how much found footage there is out there and I know how much of it is really bad. Some of it is really good but even the really good stuff gets lost because there’s so much of it and so much of it so similar. I felt if you’re going to do one it needs to feel totally different. It needs to be bringing something new to that subgenre. So I thought you do something that found footage films don’t normally do, which is make it about something. It’s not just about how scary it is. I enjoy films like those too, I enjoyed Grave Encounters, Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity. I enjoyed those films but I felt this needed to be about something and I felt it was very obvious what it needs to be about. Then if we set it in the 1960s then we have to shoot on 16mm film because that’s how they would’ve done it.


How difficult was it to convince people that it needed to be shot on 16mm?

Really hard. Myself and the DoP Ryan Kernaghan had both shot on film previously together and separately so we’re both pretty used to that process. We shot some test stuff on different formats to illustrate how aesthetically different they were. To illustrate how much a film filter doesn’t trick you into feeling like its real film and if you’re selling something as found footage it needs to feel like an authentic document. You can’t just put a filter on top because they’re repetitive. They’re not organic. Subconsciously you can tell it doesn’t feel right. It will have repetitive flaws that would never happen on real film so we were able to convince them that this has such a nice aesthetic that was separate to everything else that we should do that. The concession we had in the end was that we would shoot anything that needed VFX digitally and match it up in the grade. That was in case there might be flaws on the film that would prevent us doing the VFX or that certainly would’ve made it harder and much more expensive to do. So that’s what we did. Ryan also got a good deal. He got a bunch of stock somewhere, really cheap. Some of the stock we used was expired. We used that for stuff we knew we didn’t need for the story but that was nice scene setting stuff. Some of it made into the finished film and it actually looks really good.


Did you feel as director that working within the found footage genre allowed in some ways for more creativity in how you approached certain scenes? I’m thinking of the birthing scene in particular here. It really stands out as being very powerful in the way that it utilises the found footage element to render the scene differently to the way it would be in other films.

It’s funny because it’s simultaneously limiting and freeing to have the constraints of found footage. You’ve only got a single camera so you can’t do things like get coverage for a scene. For the birthing scene in particular that suited me because I always knew how I wanted to do that scene. I always wanted it to be just her face. I was thinking of Dreyer’s Joan of Arc or Godard’s Vivre sa Vie. I was thinking also that there’s a tendency in modern films to show too much and there’s a weirdly prosaic effect. People are so used to being shown everything when it comes to gore and violence and all the rest that it has no effect. It just kind of washes over. But there’s something very uncomfortable about just watching a human face for an extended period of time. Also, what you do in your mind is going to be a lot more powerful than what you are seeing. There were conversations about coverage but I was adamant that that was how I wanted to shoot it. It also wouldn’t make sense within the story for it to be shot as if the priests were shooting it, as neither of them would do that. Neither of them could be in this room while that’s happening. This was the best way to do it. It’s my favourite scene in the film and I had to fight for it. I think it works. So yes, in a way found footage does have that thing that there are constraints but that the constraints are weirdly freeing. We also have conversations that are like monologues to camera with Father Thomas in particular. If that was shot in a more conventional way you would have reverses and show the other character and that takes a lot longer to film so that helped us film more quickly, as well as having done a lot of rehearsals before stepping on set. I think there’s a lot to be said for just a still camera. People move around a lot these days and there’s a lot of frenetic editing that’s fashionable. I like to just let a performance happen.


I understand you had three locations for the film? I also heard that the roof fell down in one of them the day after filming?

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s right. So the location we used for the church was actually the dining hall in a lovely mansion house in Belfast, formerly belonging to Lord Craigavon. Nobody had lived in it since the ’30s though it had been used as a hospital during the war. The day after we left the roof fell in. The house was kind of falling apart anyway. But it was kind of strange, if you wanted to read into things. People ask me about ghosts but I don’t really believe in ghosts. I wish I did, I think it’s a lot fun but I don’t. I think there was something else about one of the insurance documents had 666 engraved in it or something like that. There were theories flying around about a curse but, touch wood, I don’t think so.


The film has excellent performances in it as well. Could you tell me a bit about the casting process?

We auditioned everybody, particularly because the two executive producers were in LA. They wanted to see tapes. Helena, who plays the Mother Superior, I already knew and had my eye on. My husband and I both work in the theatre and he had worked with Helena there. I’d seen her in a few things. I had my eye on her but we did audition other people as well. Ciaran, who plays Father John, again I had my eye on him from theatre. We auditioned very widely. In the first round the producers were unsure about him but I knew he was right for the role. I think his first audition was a self-tape because he was in London or somewhere at the time. When I finally got him to come into the room with me, he nailed it. Then Lalor fell slightly outside of the age group that the casting director, Carla Strong, had for the role. Just you know you pick an age range and he happened to be slightly out of it. So he wasn’t in the first net we hauled in. But he heard about the project from a friend of his. He got in touch with me saying he’d really like to audition for this. It just struck something. So he came on down to my office. Again we had seen loads of people for that role and nobody was quite right. We had seen loads of people that were really good but not quite right. Lalor came down and just knocked it out of the park instantly. He was brilliant. Then in relation to Lauren who plays Kathleen, we had a different actor cast originally but due to scheduling problems she had to drop out during the shoot. We were literally already shooting when Lauren came down to audition. She auditioned on the set and that’s how she got the role. We shot the whole thing in 16 days and shot Lauren’s stuff in the second week.

Are there any films that particularly influenced you for the project?

Yeah that’s an interesting one. People assume that I’d be looking at stuff like The Blair Witch Project for something like this because it’s found footage but actually that’s not how I approach films anyway. Then you’re just repeating yourself or repeating somebody else. This is not really like that. It’s found footage but it’s no more like it than any other genre film. I was really thinking about the time, the mode of shooting, those sort of things so I was looking at a lot of documentaries from the early ’60s. In particular I was looking at The Maysles Brothers, cinema verite documentaries, stuff like Salesman because even the way you handle the camera, all of that, is going to effect the aesthetic of a film like this and it’s going to be totally different to how they handle the camera in Blair Witch. Its different equipment and of course they have the audio equipment too. Father John in the film doesn’t know he’s making a found-footage horror film, he thinks he’s making a documentary so that was the style I was trying to emulate.


What do you plan for your next film?

I have a couple of things in the works so, with different producers, so it’s just about seeing what comes together first in terms of financing. I’m working on a film with Fantastic Films so we’ll see where that goes. It’s in the horror genre again, I tend to gravitate toward horror or if it’s not horror, thriller or something dark. I’m attached also to direct a story that I haven’t written that’s a Bloody Mary origin story. I also have a folk-horror in development with a producer in London.

The Devils Doorway screens Friday, 26th October 2018 at 18.20 at the IFI as part of Horrorthon 2018 (25-29 October) 


On the Red Carpet Podcast: The Little Stranger

Lenny Abrahamson’s new film The Little Stranger tells the story of Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson), the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1948, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked. The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries. But it is now in decline and its inhabitants – Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling), Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) and Caroline Ayres (Ruth Wilson) – are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life. When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how disturbingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own.

Gemma Creagh was at the European premiere at the Light House cinema in Dublin and talked to Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Lenny Abrahamson and Ruth Wilson.




The Little Stranger is currently in cinemas



Irish Film Review: The Little Stranger


Film Ireland Podcasts


Maurice Sweeney, Director of ‘I, Dolours’


I, Dolours presents one woman’s story of life and death in the IRA, for whom the Good Friday Agreement brought no peace of mind. A member of a crack, secret IRA unit run by Gerry Adams, Dolours Price led the first team to bomb the centre of London in 1973. Before this, she was a central figure in one of the most notorious and controversial IRA operations of The Troubles: the murder and dumping into unmarked graves of people whose violent deaths the IRA wished to keep secret – the so-called ‘disappeared’.

Gemma Creagh talks to Maurice Sweeney about his documentary, based on lengthy interviews with Dolours Price and extensive reconstructions.  I Dolours tells the anguished story of one of the few women who dedicated her life to the IRA only to be haunted by memories of what she had done and the realisation that it had all been for naught.


There have been a number of feature documentaries recently focusing on The Troubles. Is it getting easier to deal with living history?

Yes. I think it’s getting easier. It’s no accident that this year and last year we’ve had No Stone Unturned, I Dolours, A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot, Bobby Sands: 66 Days. These are screening and being understood by Irish and international audiences. It’s not the usual Prime Time Investigates – these films are about bigger stories and bigger themes. Maybe we’re achieving that distance where we are being able to talk about it.

For me, I, Dolours felt very timely, because it was a great analogy of the North. I think filmmakers in Ireland and the new generation want to tackle those subjects on the bigger screen. Also, I would argue that there has been amazing work that hasn’t been given prominence because it was on TV. There has been an element of snobbishness to a certain extent with films released on the bigger screen garnishing more praise. These are things that have been explored on TV but they are being treated as themes and stories rather than political investigations, which I think is important. I think also it’s a sign of a generation of Irish filmmakers maturing.


Regardless of that snobbery though the shift in distribution platforms and the international hunger that there is for these true life stories – that’s the future, is it not?

It is and they are coming around to it. The demand for content has never been so high. Maybe 7 years ago we were all worried that with all the content production, values were going to go down. People got that wrong. So there’s a call for really well produced, intelligent content. Obviously, there’s a lot of bad true life stuff out there – but that’s the nature of the beast.

Structure is changing. Filmmakers are also thinking about something in four parts now. It doesn’t  have to be contained within 90 minutes. It’s going to be interesting for documentary filmmakers in particular as to how they choose to tell a story and what type of stories they decide tell – there’s scope to think bigger and still get those nuggets of human experience in those films.


It’s interesting you say that because after watching this film I was imagining it as series – there’s a  strong female anti-hero who’s been pushed to the edge and pressured into extreme actionBreaking Bad meets The Americans.

As a drama, certainly you could imagine that – thanks – I’ll go back and write that now and I’ll use that tagline!


I noted that you had been trying to get the project together for a while. How did it eventually come into fruition?

It came on the back of a failure in getting of another project off the ground with Ed Moloney, the journalist. We were trying to do a programme on the collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane with producer Nuala Cunningham.  It didn’t happen. After it never came to fruition, we spoke about the possibility of using Ed’s 2010 interview with Dolours Price. So I read part of the transcript. I was amazed and enthralled by the story. I thought this is really powerful. I knew that this inside-story of uncomfortable truths was something special.

We got development money of the Film Board and eventually got to the phase where we had production funding before we asked ourselves what we were going to do with it.From my background, I was treating it as an historical doc. I had never met the woman. I had that removal which served the end product well because I could see it from a bird’s eye, from a different angle, from my point of view as a director. To be honest, we actually struggled a lot deciding how to make it initially. We had discussed different ways and I had even thought about shooting the interview again with an actress. I almost thought you could do this as a full drama from an interview given by the woman who was in the IRA.  I kept thinking about how to do that. In fairness, Mick Mahon, the editor, kept saying – “look you have the interview, use it.” I don’t why I was reluctant initially to be honest with you, it was a form I had always wanted to try. So then I sat down with Mick and looked at the interview. We saw how brilliant and really powerful it was and from then on we decided that we were just using her voice. The film became more glued into shape then. It took shape in our minds.


That shape is quite interesting in the different forms you use to tell the story and achieve the overall effect.

It was about using three forms of filmmaking: archive, straight sit-down interviews and enactments, which is what I would see as her visual memory, they would interweave together. The enactments were important because we knew wanted to tell a strong visual story, and they add that sense of drama alongside the archive footage and interviews.

It was clear in my head when we went to shoot eventually. There was a lot of time to plan so we almost had the film edited to a certain extent in our heads to where the important points from the interview were.


And timewise?

The shoot itself was about 11 or 12 days. The edit was 15 weeks.


The film is an emotional rollercoaster and Dolours is such a complex character for the audience – how was it for you as a filmmaker?

The audience has to go through the same thing we went through. We were conflicted by listening to her and how we felt about her. There are certain scenes that really bring about that conflict and show this young woman who made decisions but who would ultimately suffered for them. We didn’t want to be too apologetic. You couldn’t agree with what she did, but I think you could understand. Also we didn’t want to shy away from showing the damage that she caused. You’re treading that line.


I thought Lorna Larkin was amazing as Dolours in the reenactments. She brings a real gutsiness to the role.  How did she come on board?

I had other actors lined up who were great and one in particular who I think got scared of the project about doing something about the IRA and other reasons, so things were getting quite tight. I came across Lorna and I thought she had that sparkle in her eye and would really own Dolours. When we met, she was just so up for it – she wasn’t phased about it at all. We’re dealing with very tricky issues here IRA, killings, Hunger strikes… very contentious stuff. She was very brave in her approach. We did some tests with her in costume and she was great and she’s able to pull off different looks. I think having an unknown was important – she becomes more Dolours.


How was the film received and did you get any kind of feedback from people who were involved?

We did – and there were certain people who were saying we shouldn’t be making this film. Some people are surprised when they see it that it’s not a ‘Let’s Get Sinn Fein’ job. It’s not about that. When we showed it in Canada at Hot Docs, people got the emotional story of it. When we showed it in Britain, it was all  about the political. Then when we showed it in Belfast, which is almost like returning to the scene of the crime, I was very nervous about that. It was a packed cinema with ex-IRA members in the audience. They questioned certain things but a lot of them were very positive about it. They thought it showed that this is what it was like. This is what the committed part of the IRA does and also the cruelty of it. A lot of the time when I see the film with audiences, it’s amazing, they are just silent at the end – I’ll take that as a compliment!



I, Dolours is currently in cinemas







Early Irish Cinema: “A Photo-Play of Unique National Interest”: Seeing Knocknagow in Irish Cinemas, January-April 1918

Denis Condon’s blog Early Irish Cinema looks back at the early development of cinema in Ireland on the anniversaries of those developments and offers information on what cinemagoers could have seen in Irish cinemas a century ago. Here Denis introduces Knocknagow, “the most significant film made in Ireland during the silent period.”


On 22 April 1918, Knocknagow  (Ireland: FCOI, 1918) opened at Dublin’s Empire Theatre after a tour of many of Ireland’s towns and cities.

Ad for Knocknagow in the Irish Limelight Feb. 1918: 10-11.

In inviting Irish exhibitors to the trade show of the long-awaited Knocknagow on 6 February 1918 at Dublin’s Sackville Street Picture House, the Film Company of Ireland (FCOI) described the film as “a photo-play of unique national interest.” Knocknagowwould become the most significant film made in Ireland during the silent period. Appearing just over two months after the three-reel comedy Rafferty’s RiseKnocknagow was very different from anything FCOI had yet released. An epic nine-reel (8,700-feet or 2 hours 25 minutes at 16fps) adaptation of the best-selling Irish novel of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Knocknagow was by far the FCOI’s most ambitious work to date. Part of the national interest of the film may have been in making accessible a novel that some critics have argued was very widely bought but very little read (Donovan). Indeed, when in August 1917 the film was announced and a stage adaptation was proving popular, the Evening Herald’s Man About Town wondered “what the opinion of the author of Knocknagow would be if he saw his novel on the cinema screen, or its dramatized version drawing crowded houses in the theatres throughout the country.”

Tailor Phil Lahy (Arthur Shields) fits out Mat the Thrasher (Brian Magowan) for a new coat in Knocknagow. Image and essays on the film available here.

One of the things he would likely have thought is that the film was very selective in what it took from the novel. “The story meanders along through over six hundred pages its placidity disturbed by very little of what the playwright dubs ‘action,’” the Evening Telegraph critic JAP noted of the novel in his review of the trade show.

To extract from the [novel’s] 600 pages enough incidents for a photoplay – which, above all things, must have virile action, – and to contrive that there should be sufficient continuity to sustain interest throughout a half-dozen reels, was a task to daunt the most expert scenario writer. (“Gossip of the Day.”)

Although impressed by the film in other ways, particularly the acting, JAP did not seem to think that the scenario attributed to Mrs. N. T. Patton had been particularly successful in delivering virile action. Indeed, two weeks later, although no long referring to Knocknagow, he argued that “the best books should not be filmed. To turn a book into a photo-play must be always an unsatisfactory business” (27 Feb.). However, in the trade-show review, he advised that “the action could be brisked up by sub-editing it down from eight reels to six, the sub-titles would be improved by more frequent quotations from the book and better choice of incidents would have helped to get more of the ‘atmosphere.’”

J.M. Carre as the villainous land agent Beresford Pender.

The version of Knocknagow that survives today is about an hour shorter than the original cut. As a result, it is difficult to say exactly what Irish audiences saw in early 1918, but a general description probably captures many of its essential features. Set in 1848, the film concerns the relationships among a large cast of characters who live on or adjacent to the lands of the absentee landlord Sir Garrett Butler, particularly in the village of Kilthubber and the hamlet of Knocknagow. Prominent among these are Mat “the Thrasher” Donovan (Brian Magowan); the tailor Phil Lahy (Arthur Shields), whose sickly daughter Nora (Kathleen Murphy) is betrothed to turfman Billy Heffernan (Breffni O’Rourke); large tenant farmer Maurice Kearney (Dermot O’Dowd) whose daughter Mary Kearney (Nora Clancy) is attracted to theology student Arthur O’Connor (Fred O’Donovan, who also directed); and villainous land agent Beresford Pender (J.M. Carre), who schemes to remove tenants from the land to make way for more lucrative cattle grazing. The film interweaves scenes of rural work and leisure (ploughing, tailoring, Christmas celebrations, a wedding, a hurling match, a fair) with more strongly plotted sequences, such as the developing love stories or Pender’s strategies to evict certain tenants and frame Mat for robbery. “With a true appreciation of the artistic,” the reviewer in Cavan’s Anglo-Celt contended

the various degrees of tone have been lifted from the novel, and placed on the screen just as Kickham would have done it himself. The happy peasantry, the prowess of the youth at the hurling match, the hammer-throwing contest, the unexpected “hunt,” the love scenes and the comedy – the life as it was before the agent of the absentee landlord came like a dark shadow on the scene, and with crowbar and torch, laid sweet Knocknagow in ruins – all were depicted by the very perfect actors who made up the cast. (“‘Knocknagow’ on the Film.”)

Pender’s eviction of the Brians, a farm labouring family, is depicted in detail, with titles superimposed on the images of the land agent dancing before their burning cottage.

Apart from transposing a bestselling Irish novel into an accessible screen format, two other definitions of “national interest” seem to be particularly relevant to thinking about the release of Knocknagow in early 1918: the commitment to local exhibition and the politics of Irish nationalism. The first of these is illustrated by the fact that the trade show had, unusually, followed rather than preceded a special premiere run in Clonmel from 30 January to 2 February, and the film’s first run after the trade show would not be in the cities of Dublin or Belfast but in Carlow on 18-19 February. The Clonmel opening was designed to acknowledge that the film had been shot almost entirely in the Tipperary locations of Clonmel and Mullinahone associated with Kickham’s source novel. However, given that audiences not only in Clonmel and Carlow but in many other small towns saw the film before it opened to the public in Dublin on 22 April underscores FCOI’s commitment to a definition of national interest that associated it first and foremost with small-town Ireland.

The importance of the Tipperary landscape is emphasized at several points of the film, including a sequence of iris shots in which Mat says farewell to Ireland as he makes ready to emigrate.

Other aspects of the exhibition of Knocknagow deserve discussion, but the 22 April opening date of the film in Dublin also marked a turning point in Irish national politics. That day was flanked by two days of demonstrations against the conscription of Irish men into the British army. Sunday, 21 April represented a particular Catholic church influenced protest, with mass meeting and fiery speeches in every parish in the country, while Tuesday, 23 April was the day chosen by trade unions for a general strike that meant, among other things, that “there were neither newspapers nor cinema shows” during a “universal cessation of work throughout Nationalist Ireland” (“Labour’s Protest”). The British government’s determination to extend conscription to Ireland would finally succeed in uniting the warring factions of Irish nationalism against it.

Newsreel special of the by-election in South Armagh, Dublin Evening Mail 4 Feb 1918: 2.

This turning point of the conscription crisis came after the film’s release in much of the country, however, and it was in a political context of the rise of Sinn Féin that the film was produced and initially exhibited. In late 1917 and early 1918, the long stable link between the achievement of nationhood and the Home Rule of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) was severely under threat from the vision of a more radical independence offered in the wake of the 1916 Rising by the new Sinn Féin party. The set pieces of this struggle from the time Knocknagow began shooting in Tipperary in the early summer of 1917 and through the period of its exhibition in late winter and spring 1918 were a series of six by-elections in which Sinn Féin ran candidates in constituencies where the IPP had previously held Westminster seats, winning three of them. After losing four seats in all to Sinn Féin in 1917, the IPP may have seemed to be regaining the momentum by winning the three by-elections in early 1918, but one of these included the Waterford seat left vacant by the death on 6 March of the man most associated with Home Rule, IPP leader John Redmond. Cinema audiences could follow these developments through the newsreel footage of the by-elections and Redmond’s funeral provided by Irish Events and exhibitors such as William Kay of Dublin’s Rotunda who filmed these events.

General Film Supply sought sales of its film of the Funeral of the Late John Redmond, M.P. beyond its usual Irish Events network by placing this ad with the entertainment ads in the Evening Telegraph of 11-12 Mar. 1918.

As well as these party-political events, Knocknagow was released in a country that was experiencing increasing incidents of local unrest of many kinds, with a large number of prosecutions for cattle driving and for illegal drilling by Irish Volunteers, as well as a hunger strike by Sinn Féin prisoners in Mountjoy Jail. In early March, County Clare was placed under martial law, and Major-General W. Fry issued a proclamation “prohibiting the holding of any meeting or procession within the Dublin Metropolitan Police Area between March 6 and March 27,” a period that included St. Patrick’s Day (“Proclamation”). In one high-profile case, men arrested for illegal drilling in Dundalk refused to recognize the court and sang “The Soldier’s Song” to disrupt proceedings. This tactic became so common that one defendant (Michael Murray) in a Clare cattle-driving case refused to recognize “this concert” (“Court Scene”). However, when during the Dundalk case, a variety company sang the same “Sinn Féin” songs at one of the local picture house, a section of the audience left in protest (“Round Up”). More seriously, members of an audience at Limerick’s Tivoli Picture House on 4 March became victims of violence when 15 to 18 soldiers who had been involved in running battles with young men in the street burst into the auditorium and attacked the crowded audience at random with sticks and truncheons, injuring many, including the musical director (“Soldiers & People in Conflict”).

Mat leads the Knocknagow hurling team for a match that the Derry Journal reviewer thought was “a topsy-turvey affair, resembling a rugby scramble more than a game of caman” (“‘Knock-na-Gow’ at the Opera House”). Some more on that aspect of the film here.

In these circumstances in which, it seems, politics could irrupt into the auditorium at any moment, Knocknagow looks like quite an indirect, even tame intervention. The FCOI’s choice of Kickham’s novel as the basis for its first landmark film seems, on the one hand, an overtly nationalist statement: its author was a former president of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and one of the best known Irish revolutionaries of the latter half of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, the nature of the book – rich in detail of Irish country life in the 1840s but also sprawling and sentimental rather than overtly political – was such that it could be adapted without courting political controversy. As such, the film contrasts with the films made in Ireland between 1910 and 1914 by US filmmakers Sidney Olcott and Gene Gauntier for Kalem and subsequently their own production companies, some of which openly feature armed political rebellion against Britain, albeit that these films are also set in the past.

ArthurO’Connor and Mary Kearney pursue their romance.

This is not to argue that FCOI was politically conservative but that the company had to negotiate strict censorship. The attempt to show Ireland a Nation (US: Macnamara, 1914) in Dublin in January 1917 or even the more recent controversy over the potential banning of the Finn Varra Maa pantomime had shown that to have produced a film that the authorities judged to have been overtly nationalistic would undoubtedly have been to see the film immediately banned under the particularly strict wartime censorship provisions of the Defence Against the Realm Act. Apart from anything else, the banning of Knocknagow would have been a financial disaster for the already struggling FCOI.

Scenario competition in Irish Limelight Dec 1917: 11.

In this context, Kickham’s work took on a renewed importance in its ability to subtly re-articulate a familiar set of representations in a political way through its association with the author’s republicanism. Despite its setting in the mid-19th century, Knocknagow still resonated with Irish audiences, as the popularity of the stage adaptation shows. And 1918 would be the year of Kickham film adaptations: with a similar setting in time and place, Kickham’s other major novel Sally Cavanagh would be adapted by J. A. McDonald for a scenario competition run by the Irish Limelight in early 1918. Given that Knocknagow’s director Fred O’Donovan joined Limelight editor Jack Warren in judging the competition, it is perhaps not surprising that McDonald’s scenario, Untenanted Graves, won, but its seems never to have been produced (“Untenanted Graves”).

Films made in Ireland by US filmmakers Sidney Olcott and Gene Gauntier for Kalem dominated this list of Irish films available to Irish exhibitors through Dublin-based General Film Supply; Irish Limelight Dec. 1917: 18.

As the Kickham film that was made, Knocknagow in itself, and in the company’s rhetoric around it, emphasized its embeddedness in particular Irish locations that were different from the ones popularized by previous, foreign filmmakers in Ireland, especially the Killarney of the enduringly popular Olcott-Gauntier films. Unlike Olcott and Gauntier, the FCOI filmmakers were – predominantly – Irish born, and the company was based in Dublin. In keeping with this rhetoric, local exhibition was of more than usual importance to Knocknagow. FCOI had opened previous films in regional picture houses, despite the claim by the Dame Street Picture Theatre in Dublin that all the company’s productions could be seen there first. But for Knocknagow, regional exhibition was a part of its national significance.

Ad for premiere of Knocknagow at Magner’s Theatre, Clonmel; Nationalist 26 Jan. 1918: 6.

Indeed, successful regional exhibition in Ireland was to be part of the promotion of the film with audiences and exhibitors abroad. On 13 April, while Knocknagow was showing in Derry, Dublin’s Evening Herald published a brief interview from its drama critic Jacques with FCOI producer James Mark Sullivan. Sullivan was on the cusp of bringing the FCOI films to America (on the film in America, see here and here), and Jacques quoted him on the company’s intentions:

“We desire,” he says, “to show Ireland sympathetically; to get away from the clay pipe and the knee breeches; to show Ireland’s rural life, with pride in the same; to show Ireland’s metropolitan life intelligently, depicting the men and women of the 20th century – in short, Ireland at its best in every walk of human endeavour.”

This may have been his desire but if it had any basis in a reality beyond advertising rhetoric, it must have referred to the earlier FCOI films and not KnocknagowKnocknagow persisted in representing the Irish of the mid-19th century and doing so in familiar ways, including costumed in knee breeches. In addition, Sullivan made specific claims about the way that Knocknagow was being welcomed in Ireland “like no other picture was ever received in Ireland or out of Ireland before. From every place where it has once been shown,” he contended,

we are receiving return bookings—a remarkable thing in the case of a picture, though very ordinary in that of a play or opera. For instance, the city of Limerick gave us four bookings, and I question if any other picture every received over two. The same is true of Waterford, Clonmel, Cork, Carlow, and other towns. This week we are breaking all records in Waterford. I mention these facts to indicate that there is prospect of promise and permanency in our enterprise.

The ad for Knocknagow at Derry’s Opera House was dwarfed by an ad for the opening of the city’s newest picture house, the Rialto, on 29 April. Derry Journal 12 Apr. 1918: 2.

Although the surviving evidence in Ireland’s regional newspapers does not quite support Sullivan’s attempts to boost Knocknagow in advance of its Dublin opening, the film had been shown – or in the case of Limerick, was about to be shown – in the towns he named. To clarify, before its week-long run at the Empire Theatre in Dublin (22-27 Apr.), the film was shown at Magner’s Theatre in Clonmel (30 Jan.-2 Feb.), the Sackville Picture Theatre in Dublin (trade show, 6 Feb.), the Cinema Palace in Carlow (18-19 Feb.), the Town Hall Cinema in Cavan (25-27 Feb.), the Cinema in Kilkenny (6-7 Mar.), the Opera House in Cork (18-23 Mar.), the Coliseum in Waterford (1-6 Apr.), the Opera House in Derry (8-13 Apr.), the Empire Theatre in Belfast (15-20 Apr.), the Shannon Cinema in Limerick (15-17 Apr.) the Picturedrome in Tralee (18-20 Apr.) and the Town Hall in Galway (22-24 Apr.).

Anglo-Celt 23 Feb. 1918: 7.

survey of the reception of Knocknagow in the run up to the Dublin opening has shown something of the way in which the film resonated with audiences around the country. It makes clear that the film was certainly popular with Irish cinemagoers, with local critics consistently praising its fidelity to Kickham’s novel, the quality of the acting and the beauty of the Tipperary scenery. However, few reviews mentioned the film’s contemporary political relevance. Indeed, some suggested that audiences abroad would be particularly impressed by the film, including the Anglo-Celt‘s reviewer, who subtitled his notice “A Picture Play that Will Create a Furore in America” (“‘Knocknagow’ on the Film”).

Despite such potentially politically sensitive scenes as the eviction, this was probably due to the fact that such events were depicted in the past, safely distanced, with Cork Evening Echo emphasizing that the film would attract “all those who take an interest in the economic and social development which has taken place in this country during the past two generations” (“Opera House”). These events had happened “many years ago” even for those such as the Evening Herald’s Jacques, for whom the film vividly recalled personal memories of “the cabin doors broken and the furniture flung out, and the poor half-dressed occupants lying on the roadside amid the wreckage of their home.”

An illustrated intertitle introduces the eviction scene, emphasizing its importance.

It was only really in Galway that a critic saw the film’s immediate political relevance by arguing that it

pointed a topical moral at the present time. We saw the evictions, the crowbar brigades, the burnings, the landlord oppression of 70 years ago, the attempt to wipe out a race. Such memories – only of the other day – as it revived scarcely accommodated the mind of the beholder to the nation of conscription. (“Town Hall.”)

By the time this reviewer was writing on or about 26 April, conscription had become the politically unifying issue for nationalists that it had not been earlier in Knocknagow’s run.

While FCOI could not have foreseen such events, the company enhanced its connection to the local audience in many of the places Knocknagow was shown by having members of the cast sing at screenings. This was a unique feature of the film’s exhibition in Ireland. Film actors had on rare occasions attended screenings of their films, but they did not contribute to the events’ live music. Brian Magowan, the film’s main star and an actor familiar with musical theatre, appeared most often, regularly accompanied by fellow cast member Breffni O’Rourke. This was not Magowan’s first vocal accompaniment of a FCOI film; he had sung at the premiere of the company’s first film, O’Neill of the Glen. In the case of Knocknagow, however, the FCOI gave this feature special prominence by having Magowan and O’Rourke, dressed in character, sing folk songs connected with the film. Although they did not appear at every venue where the film was shown, and of course, they could not have when the film was showing simultaneously in geographically remote locations, Magowan’s and O’Rourke’s live appearances were regular features of the first run of the film in Ireland.

While ploughing a field with a view of Slievenamon (mountain), Mat pauses to sing “The Farmer’s Boy,” with an intertitle helpfully providing musical notation and the song’s refrain.

Their earliest appearance seems to have been in Cavan, where the Anglo-Celt reported that “[a]n interesting feature of the entertainment was that Mr. J. McGowan, who, as ‘Mat the Thrasher’ was the hero on the film, appeared each evening in the flesh and sang some old Irish ballads in very charming voice, while Mr. Breffni O’Rourke (‘Bill Heffenan’ in the play) gave some traditional Irish lays and witty stories” (“‘Knocknagow’ on the Film”). Magowan most important contribution was “Slievenamon,” a song about the Tipperary mountain whose lyrics Kickham had composed. The centrality of this song to the FCOI’s conception of the ideal accompaniment of the film is underlined by the reproduction of Magowan’s arrangement of the song for voice and piano that was included in a programme for a later (probably 1919) run of the film (NLI).

The film has many musical scenes, including this one in which Billy Heffernan plays the flute while the Lahys dance.

The reviews are unclear on whether they sang before, after or during the projection of the film, but the film itself includes moments that motivate vocal accompaniment. In an early scene of the film, Mat is introduced by an intertitle and then shown ploughing a field in long shot. In a mid-shot, he turns around to the camera, and an intertitle appears with a musical stave and the refrain from the folk song “The Farmer’s Boy.” The cut back to Mat shows him singing animatedly before he returns to his ploughing in the shadow of Slievenamon. These on-screen cue might provide the place for Magowan to sing or they might encourage the audience to sing these popular tunes. A similar series of shots occurs later when tailor Phil Lahy sings “The Black Horse,” whose opening lines are printed on an intertitle.

Made and released during a fraught historical moment, Knocknagow sought to engage its audiences with a bestselling literary text and popular songs and involve them in the process of readjusting the representation of the Irish on screen.

Denis Condon lectures in film at NUI Maynooth.



“Court Scene: Clare Cattle Drivers Refuse to Recognise ‘this Concert.’” Dublin Evening Mail 16 Mar. 1918: 3.

Donovan, Stephen. “Introduction: Ireland’s Own Film.” Screening the Past 33 (2012). Available at <;

Jacques. “Knocknagow Filmed: Wonderful Irish Picture of Storied Incident.” Irish Limelight Apr. 1918: 5.

JAP. “Gossip of the Day: Film Version of Kickham’s Most Famous Novel.” Evening Telegraph 7 Feb. 1918: 2.

—. “Gossip of the Day: The Present Fashion in Films.” Evening Telegraph 27 Feb. 1918: 2.

“‘Knock-Na-Gow’ at the Opera House.” Derry Journal 10 Apr. 1918: 4.

“‘Knocknagow’ on the Film: A Picture Play that Will Create a Furore in America.” Anglo-Celt 2 Mar. 1918: 6.

“Labour’s Protest.” Freeman’s Journal 24 Apr. 1918: 2.

The Man About Town. “Thing Seen and Heard.” Evening Herald 22 Aug. 1917: 2; 9 Mar. 1918: 2.

NLI (National Library of Ireland). MS 50,000/272/82, Liam O’Leary Archive. Programme for Knocknagow, n.d.

“Opera House.” Evening Echo 14 Mar. 1918: 2.

“Proclamation: Processions Forbidden for the Next Three Weeks in the Dublin Area.” Dublin Evening Mail 7 Mar. 1918: 3.

“A Round Up: Many Volunteers Arrested.” Evening Telegraph 12 Mar. 1918: 3.

“Soldiers & People in Conflict: Scenes in Limerick.” Irish Independent 6 Mar. 1918: 3.

“Town Hall.” Galway Express 27 Apr. 1918: 4.

“The Untenanted Graves.” Irish Limelight Apr. 1918: 13.





Fred O’Donovan: not just Knocknagow


Alan Gilsenan, Writer / Director of ‘Unless’ & ‘The Meeting’


Stephen Porzio met up with filmmaker Alan Gilsenan to chat about his two films set for Irish cinemas this year.

Imagine being a director and getting trapped by snow at home, the day your new film will premiere. This happened to Irish filmmaker Alan Gilsenan, leading him to walk from the Wicklow Mountains all the way to Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema.

“I kind of enjoyed it. It was like a strange pilgrimage”, he remarks. His story reminds me of fellow filmmaker Werner Herzog, who famously walked from Munich to Paris to visit a dying friend. Gilsenan jokes: “Jesus, I’d say that’s where the likeness ends but if we could even approach old Herzog that’d be fine for me”.

Following last year’s acclaimed documentary Meetings with Ivor, Gilsenan is here at the Filmbase office to promote the first of two dramas he directed being released this year. Out on the 16th March is the Canadian-set Unless, starring Catherine Keener as an author whose daughter (Hannah Gross, Netflix’s Mindhunter) decides to drop out of college and live on the streets.

Attending the press screening of Unless was the first time I left my house after the Beast from the East. What am I presented with but a cold, drippy, snowy Ontario setting.

“I’d always pride myself as someone who doesn’t really feel the cold. But I was in Toronto and thought ‘this is just unbearable’ … I heard some of the sparks and the grips talking about how it was the coldest Winter in Toronto in 150 years the March we shot,” Gilsenan laughs.

Continuing he says: “I’d go into the catering truck just to be warm for five minutes. The other thing is I envisaged a Toronto covered in snow but when it gets to those temperatures, the snow doesn’t fall. It’s just ice. We were putting in fake snow even though it was -35 degrees.”

Adapted from a novel from Pulitzer Prize-Winner Carol Shields, writer-director Gilsenan translates the stream-of-consciousness prose of the source to the screen. While the book is about a mother’s reaction to her child wanting to live on the street, the film centres on the mystery of why the heroine’s daughter, Norah, acts in such a manner.

On adapting the novel, Gilsenan says: “[The film] is a meditation. The source was Carol Shields’ book … Sometimes I’d go back to [it] to check something and think ‘what was I thinking’. It’s the most unlikely film. The book is like Virginia Woolf. It all happens in her head.”

Many of Shields’ themes remain, the cynicism of the modern world and a desire to subvert common depictions of the ‘dysfunctional’ middle-class family. However, a key aspect of the book was excised in the transition to the big screen.

“I think partly the book is a reflection about being a woman in the world. I probably didn’t emphasise it quite as much. I’m also aware that with an extraordinary female cast and Emer Reynolds editing the film and Celiana Cárdenas as the DOP, I’m the only weak link.” He adds thoughtfully: “Probably should have been a woman who made it”.

Unless provides a realistic depiction of homelessness. I ask Gilsenan if the rise of people living on the streets in Ireland led him to choose the subject matter: “Maybe at some subliminal level … It did really bring home the reality of homelessness. The bitter cold … We were in Toronto when quite a few homeless people froze to death. We’ve started to see that in Dublin.”

I note that the scenes where Norah is living on the street felt authentic. “Some of the stuff we shot with Hannah on long lenses is on active streets. In the scene where the frat boys are hassling her – a young woman – it’s actually in the film – got very upset. That was real,” Gilsenan replies.

Gilsenan’s second film in 2018 The Meeting also feels eerily topical, focusing on the true story of a young rape victim confronting her attacker. Scheduled for a September release, the drama premiered at ADIFF last month. Before this interview, I couldn’t find who starred in the movie.

“Alva Griffith, the woman [it is based on] plays herself. It was a deliberate decision by ADIFF not to put the cast in. We felt the film will always be talked about in terms of Alva playing herself. We thought it would be nice to have a screening where that isn’t the issue.” He adds: “A lot people said to me after, ‘Who’s the actress. She’s great.’”

Clint Eastwood made a similar casting decision in his 2018 film The 15:17 to Paris. “Clint copies me in everything. I keep saying to him ‘Clint, stop’”, Gilsenan laughs.

Playing the assailant in The Meeting is Terry O’Neill, an actor who recently appeared in IFTA-winner Michael Inside. Between this and Hannah Gross recently working with David Fincher on Mindhunter, Gilsenan has a knack for discovering great talent. “Well you hope … I think Hannah’s wonderful and Terry is a real star.”

Next, Gilsenan plans a ‘strange experimental film inspired by Joyce’s Ulysses’. He is elusive when I ask if he will return to documentaries: “I quite like the documentary area, I like the drama. I like the more experimental stuff too.” A bit like Werner Herzog.


Unless is in Irish cinemas from 16th March 2018

The Meeting will open in Irish cinemas later this year



Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: The Science of Ghosts

June Butler is haunted by Niall McCann’s observational drama which centres on well-known Irish musician Adrian Crowley.

I was not sure what to expect when attending the IFI for a screening of this film. The director, Niall McCann, stood to say a few words and my expectations mutated into full confusion mode.  McCann thanked Adrian Crowley, the subject of his film ‘for not going mad’. Cue titters from the audience. Quite why Adrian might have gone ‘mad’ was intriguing but worrisome. He went on to express his gratitude to other persons working on the project for also not going ‘mad’. More polite tittering.

It was clear at this point, McCann had a theme going on. He then mentioned a crew member who had decided not to row in with the flat-line levels of remaining calm, instead ratcheting crazy to a new level by actually going ‘mad’, thus throwing the audience into immediate disarray. No more cuddly safety for them – the audience stopped tittering and looked askance at each other. At this juncture, I was out of my seat and scrabbling for the emergency exits when McCann said something that stopped me in my tracks – ‘this is an experimental film’ he averred. I sighed in relief and returned to my seat. From here on, anything that came my way was a delightful excursion into the unknown.

Adrian Crowley, on whom the film is based, is both the perfect topic and an ideal subject for such a film. His soulful countenance, at times expressive and others implacable, is a most suitable canvas for McCann’s vision. There are moments of farce that bring unexpected lightness into the frame – some are timely and others a distraction but each scene brings with it the knowledge that post-mortem impressions are the result of individual wisdom. Each to their own, as the fella says. Crowley and McCann work well together with McCann’s vision coming to the fore and Crowley being game for a laugh. There is humour in parts and in others the wide-eyed innocence of a child, evidenced from Crowley’s playful narrative about his son.

Lyrics to Unhappy Seamstress written by Crowley when he moved, hermit-like, into a bedsit in Rathmines, make for somewhat distressing listening – the tools of a songwriter unfold as by-lines to human despair. But his songs also hold a light to the human condition in its perfect misery. The cinematography holds moments of sobriety against capricious whimsy – changing from moment to moment – becoming manifest as an oft-distant stage-whisperer only to later metamorphose into a second but equally significant subject, one that is figuratively as vital as Crowley himself.

McCann cleverly juxtaposes the sublime with the even more sublime and always manages to carry it off with panache. As experimental films go, I would suggest this has tones of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deran, 1943, USA), with its unpredictable reminiscences – McCann’s wonderful offering allows and encourages viewers to think for themselves – it is what makes his film well worth seeing.


The Science of Ghosts screened on Saturday 26th February as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21 February – 4th March).


Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Kissing Candice

Stephen Porzio puckers up at the 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival for Aoife McArdle’s Kissing Candice. 

I recently criticised The Lodgers for being an Irish genre movie that failed to capitalise on the country’s rich history. For a gothic horror set in the 1920s, it felt uninterested in engaging with Ireland’s Battle for Independence or Civil War, events which had they been a greater part of the story would have made it richer. Thankfully, Kissing Candice – a graphic novel-esque tale of cops and robbers and young lovers caught in the crossfire set in Northern Ireland – does a better job at this. The debut from writer-director Aoife McArdle (U2’s Every Breaking Wave music video) takes the time to acknowledge The Troubles and the impact the era had on the generation that followed.

An incredibly expressive Ann Skelly (Red Rock, Rebellion) stars as Candice, a 17-year-old living in a one-horse-town with her troubled policeman father, Donal (The Fall’s John Lynch), and disconnected mother, Debbie (Lydia McGuinness, who had a great role in another ADIFF premiere, The Delinquent Season). Both dealing with her blossoming sexuality and severe seizures, Candice retreats into dreams. While dreaming, she has visions of man who she does not know but feels inexplicably drawn to.

Things get complicated, however, when Candice meets literally the man from her dreams, Jacob (Ryan Lincoln), a former member of a ruthless local gang who Donal wants to put behind bars. Having turned on his partners in crime, the criminals want revenge – targeting Candice in the process.

With its neo-noir aesthetic, its sensorial depiction of female sexual desire and its hallucinatory representation of the journey from teen to adult, Kissing Candice is part Streets of Fire, part Raw and part Donnie Darko. However, what keeps the movie feeling fresh and exciting, as opposed to derivative, is Aoife McArdle’s direction. Coming from a music video background, she emphasises mood and visuals over the story. Kissing Candice could be viewed without audio, and audiences would still be transfixed by its imagery; a burning toy house in the middle of a road, a dream in which a man walks stoically as his arm is on fire, a party-goer’s creepy mask at a neon-drenched nightmare rave.

While the glossy music video aesthetic for the most part works to the film’s favour, occasionally Kissing Candice feel more like long-form accompaniment to Jon Clarke’s pulsating score. This is particularly noticeable in the movie’s oblique denouement which would work better in an experimental music promo than a narrative feature.

Still, McArdle deserves credit for doing something revelatory. She manages to convey the stark brutal reality of living in some parts of Ireland but in a way which looks as incredible as a Michael Mann joint. Also, as mentioned in the first paragraph, McArdle seems to be making a commentary on the lasting impact on The Troubles. The murderous gangs that populate Kissing Candice, Donal remarks, are the sons of those who fought in the conflict. Perhaps, the violence is not quite over yet.


Kissing Candice screened on Friday, 2nd March 2018 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21 February – 4th March).







Irish Film Review: The Lodgers

DIR: Brian O’Malley •  WRI: David Turpin • PRO: Julianne Forde, Ruth Treacy  DOP: Richard Kendrick • ED: Tony Kearns • MUS: Kevin Murphy, Stephen Shannon, David Turpin • DES: Michael Corenblith • CAST: Charlotte Vega, David Bradley, Bill Milner


The Lodgers is a film to laud on concept not execution. It’s an effort to give the Irish literary Gothicism of Bram Stoker and Sheridan Le Fanu its long overdue chance to spook on the big screen. Still, while the movie certainly conjures enough atmosphere to be in line with a ‘Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural’ paperback, it’s less successful in character and story.

Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) are Anglo-Irish twins living in a debilitated mansion in 1920’s rural Ireland. The house exudes a strange curse over them: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. The return of Irish WWI soldier, Sean (Eugene Simon), may lead Rachel to break these rules. Falling in love, the two plan an escape from the village. However, the increasingly demented Edward and the spirits of the house have other ideas.

Opening with the virginial white gowned Rachel fleeing in terror through the woods, director Brian O’Malley sets the tone well early. He uses the rugged nature of the Irish countryside to his advantage, crafting a Gothic landscape that feels tangible. With its small villages, crumbling Victorian mansions, fog filled forests – the film looks both authentic and fantastical. O’Malley also stages a handful of eye-catching scenes, most involving Sean’s missing leg – one a terrifically OTT phallic metaphor, the other a creepily uncanny dream sequence.

Yet, while the atmosphere seems like it was agonised over, the script by David Turpin less so. It has its moments – the anachronistic dialogue works, Sean fighting in WWI establishes him as someone heroic who gets caught in other people’s causes like Sarah’s. However, there is a constant sense that the film could do more to link its Gothicism with its post-1916 Ireland setting. For instance, no one comments on the Protestant landowner Sarah becoming romantically involved with the Catholic village-boy Sean.

No character has any depth. Rachel, Edward and Simon never feel like anything other than the damsel, the creep and the hero. This may not be a big problem with charismatic performers (see Crimson Peak). Yet, the lead three actors in The Lodgers are only serviceable, struggling to inject personality into their roles.

Meanwhile, The Lodgers’ 92-minute running time leaves the film feeling truncated. The moments of terror happen so fast and suddenly, there is never much of a chance for the movie to build any sustained dread. It also doesn’t give its well-chosen supporting cast comprising of Deirdre O’Kane, David Bradley and an excellent Moe Dunford (as Sean’s bully, he brings a sizable amount of menace to such a small role) much time to shine.

Overall, The Lodgers is a mixed bag. It’s too atmospheric and attractive to call a missed opportunity, yet too slight and light on scares to leave much of an impression. For fans of the gothic, it will satisfy their cravings. At least, until Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger comes out later in the year.

Stephen Porzio

15A (See IFCO for details)

93 minutes
The Lodgers is released 7th March 2018

 The Lodgers – Official Website





Preview of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018

The 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival comes to town from 22nd February to 4th March. Included among over 100 features there’s a wonderful selection of Irish films to enjoy – below we take a look at what’s on offer…


Black 47  (Lance Daly) 

Wednesday, 21st February • 21.00 • Cineworld 17

Set in Ireland during the Great Famine, the drama follows an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Despite experiencing the horrors of war, he is shocked by the famine’s destruction of his homeland and the brutalization of his people and his family.

Filmmaker & cast in attendance

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“a rollicking western with fantastic action and excellent performances”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Black 47

The Breadwinner  (Nora Twomey)

Thursday, 22nd February • 20.00 •  Cineworld 17

Based on the best-selling children’s novel by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner tells the story of 11 year old Parvana who gives up her identity to provide for her family and try to save her father’s life. Parvana’s father Nurullah had told stories about history and imagination to Parvana as she helped him in the marketplace of Taliban controlled Kabul in the year 2001. When he is arrested Parvana finds the courage to look for him when everyone else had given up hope. She becomes a storyteller, remembering a brother she has once known. Every day is a challenge as Parvana tries to bring home enough food and water to support her mother, sister and little brother. She meets a fellow girl in disguise called Shauzia and together, they form a bond that will give them the strength to endure the war that comes to their doorstep in the Fall of 2001

Featuring Q&A with Nora Twomey

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The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid  (Feargal Ward)

Saturday, 24th February • 18.30   Light House 1

The story of Thomas Reid, a Co. Kildare farmer who, for years, has been locked in a gruelling battle with his neighbour — U.S. microchip manufacturer, Intel who want to expand into Reid’s land. When his farm in Leixlip was the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Thomas decided to risk everything by challenging the state body in a battle through the courts.

Feargal Ward in attendance

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The Cured (David Freyne)

Sunday, 25th February • 20.15 • Light House 1

Senan has been through hell. When the plague swept across Ireland he was among the thousands afflicted and rendered into rabid ghouls. Senan did horrible things he cannot forget — and neither can the public, nor the authorities charged with policing those released from captivity. Senan’s sister-in-law Abbie, however, is willing to give him a second chance. She lets him live with her and her young son, believing that Senan’s actions while infected were beyond his control. But as an angry anti-cured movement burgeons in tandem with an increasingly radicalized pro-cured movement, Abbie is forced to question just how far her trust should be pushed.

David Freyne in attendance

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“a unique and engaging reworking of an enduring genre”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: The Cured

The Science of Ghosts  (Niall McCann)

Monday 26th February • 18.30 •  IFI

Irish musician, Adrian Crowley ponders what would a film about his life be like? Could it ever really reflect who he is? His imagination takes him  –  and the audience – on a journey as he becomes a ghost visiting his own life, past and future. What emerges is a humorous and original take on the power of storytelling.

Filmmaker in attendance: Niall McCann

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“a delightful excursion into the unknown”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: The Science of Ghosts

Phantom Islands (Rouzbeh Rashidi)

Tuesday, 27th February • 18.30 •  IFI

Phantom Islands is an experimental film that exists at the boundaries of documentary and fiction. Directed by Rouzbeh Rashidi, the film follows a couple adrift and disoriented in the stunning landscape of Ireland’s islands.

In attendance: Rouzbeh Rashidi

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Good Favour (Rebecca Daly) 

Tuesday, 27th February • 20.30 • Light House 1

On a glaring, hot day Tom, 17, walks out of an immense forest into the lives of a strictly devout Christian community carving out a remote existence in central Europe. He seems to have come from nowhere. The only physical sign of his life before is the wound on his torso that refuses to heal.

Filmmaker in attendance

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“Daly’s latest further cements her as a master of mood”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Good Favour

Twilight (Pat Collins)

Wednesday, 28th February • 17.50  • Light House 2

Filmed over 2 years close to Baltimore in West Cork, with field recordings by world renowned sound artist Chris Watson, the film has twilight as its central subject and is an attempt to capture the colour and quality of light that is in flux, the fleeting and transient sensations, the sense of the world turning.

In attendance: Pat Collins

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“Collins has managed to capture the sense of stillness and calm that comes with the dwindling sunlight”

While You Live, Shine  ( Paul Duane)

Wednesday, 28th February • 18.45 • Light House 2

American musicologist Chris King is legendary in his field. His collection of and passion for old 78 records is inspiring, as is his ability to use modern technology to unlock their sonic secrets. But his discovery of the music of Epirus in northern Greece was to transform King’s life, and the raw folk music he believes connects us with our most ancient ancestors prompted him to travel to the region. What emerges is some of the most hypnotic and stirring music you’ve never heard.

In attendance: Paul Duane 

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 Muse  (Jaume Balagueró)

Wednesday, 28th February 20.45 •  Light House 1

Samuel Salomon, a literature professor, has been off work for almost a year after the tragic death of his girlfriend. Samuel has been suffering from a recurring nightmare in which a woman is brutally murdered by a strange ritual. Suddenly, the same woman who appears every night in his dreams is found dead in exactly the same circumstances. Samuel sneaks into the crime scene and there he meets Rachel who has also dreamed about the murder. Together, they will do whatever they can to discover the identity of the mystery woman, entering a terrifying world controlled by the figures who have inspired artists throughout time: The Muses.

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The Image You Missed  (Donal Foreman)

Thursday, 1st March 18.15 Light House 2

An Irish filmmaker grapples with the legacy of his estranged father, the late documentarian Arthur MacCaig, through MacCaig’s decades-spanning archive of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

In attendance: Donal Foreman

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“poetic and poignant”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: The Image You Missed

The Camino Voyage (Dónal Ó Céilleachair)

Friday 2nd March • 18.15 • IFI

A crew including a Writer, two Musicians, an Artist and a Stonemason embark on the Camino not on land, but by sea, in a traditional boat that they built themselves on an inspiring, and often time’s dangerous, modern day Celtic odyssey.

In attendance: Dónal Ó Céilleachair

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Damo & Ivor: The Movie (Rob Burke, Ronan Burke)

Friday, 2nd March • 18.10 •  Cineworld 17

Damo and Ivor embark on the mother of all adventures to find the last piece of their family puzzle and track down their long lost brother, John Joe. The adventure takes the brothers across Ireland where they discover that sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover.

In attendance: Rob Burke, Ronan Burke & Cast

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Kissing Candice (Aoife McArdle)

Friday, 2nd March • 20.45 •  Light House 1

Candice longs to escape the boredom of her seaside town, but when a boy she dreams about turns up in real life, she becomes involved with a dangerous local gang.

In attendance: Aoife McArdle

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“manages to convey the stark brutal reality of living in some parts of Ireland but in a way which looks as incredible as a Michael Mann joint”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Kissing Candice

The Meeting (Alan Gilsenan)

Saturday 3rd March  15.45  Light House 1

During an emotional and highly charged encounter, a young rape victim seeks answers to questions which have haunted her since her attack. The woman is determined the experience will not deny her the right to personal freedoms as she endeavours to find some form of closure. It’s based upon a real-life encounter between a rape victim and her attacker upon his prison release.

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A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot (Sinéad O’Shea)

Saturday, 3rd March • 18.15 • Light House 1

A documentary exploring a broken community in Northern Ireland, scratches the surface of a staunchly republican populace and exposes how they take the law into their own hands.

In attendance: Sinéad O’Shea

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The Delinquent Season   (Mark O’Rowe)

Saturday 3rd March • 20.30 • Light House 1

A tense drama which revolves around two couples in suburban Dublin – Jim and Danielle and Yvonne and Chris. On paper, they both appear to live in marital bliss, until an altercation between one couple occurs and cracks begin to appear in both of these seemingly steady marriages.

Filmmaker and selected cast in attendance

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“a surprisingly old-fashioned drama told with skill by debut director and accomplished playwright Mark O’Rowe”

Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: The Delinquent Season


You can see the full schedule for the festival here

Tickets are on sale at and the Box Office is open at 12 East Essex Street (+353 (0) 1 6877974)


Films of 2017 – Writers’ Choice

Film is the rabbit hole of life. It is a labyrinth of truth and lies, a broken mirror that distorts our fantasies, a dealer of dreams and desires. It is who we are…

The Film Ireland family look back on who they were in 2017 and pick out their highlights – and some lowlights – from the year in film.

You can see the top 10 here

Anthony Assad

1. Moonlight

2. The Florida Project

3. A Ghost Story

4. Blade Runner 2046

5. I Am Not a Witch

Andrew Carroll

Blade Runner 2049

A brutal, beautiful spectacle that revels in teasing out its hard-to-answer questions. With lovingly textured cinematography from Roger Deakins and a bold story that brazenly declares the individual unimportant. Blade Runner 2049 is perhaps the greatest science fiction film ever made.

Get Out

A horror-comedy that pulls no punches in its take on white liberalism, white supremacy and even white eugenics. Daniel Kaluuya bleeds subtle pathos that becomes brave strength in the film’s chilling climax. A brave, clever and passionate film from Jordan Peele that looks toward a better future while fearing the present and never forgetting the past.

John Wick Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves’ unstoppable hitman ratchets up the violence and style for the sequel. Influences from Thai to Cantonese to American action cinema are all there but director Chad Stahelski makes them gel in one of film’s most absurd, crunching and tenacious sequels ever. Come for the lighting, stay for the museum shoot-out.

Wind River

A hard-to-stomach crime-drama dressed up as a snowy Western. Debuting as director from his own script Taylor Sheridan winds tension as tightly as Villeneuve and Mackenzie did in Sicario and Hell or High Water. A stark film with landscapes as monumental as the grief that enshrouds its characters.


At heart it’s a superhero film but all the scar tissue and grit surrounding the film’s core make up for it. The most violent and visceral of the current superhero crop, Logan’s performances from one-line to break-out star Dafne Keen make it a compelling and heart-breaking family-drama as much as it is an American epic.

Worst of 2017


When a film hits all its structural and technical components on the money little can go wrong you would think. Not so with writer, director and star Dax Shepard’s passion project. Taking a property that has little nostalgic good will even in its home state and liberally smearing jokes that are like something a six-year-old with no understanding of set-ups or punchlines would come up with. Gross, criminal and negligent misuse of stars like Michael Pena and Kristen Bell just make Shepard’s attempt at resurrecting a barely-remembered action-comedy all the more confusing and unforgivable.

Colm Connolly 

4. Dunkirk

An unexpected gem. Nolan is at his best when the dialogue is sparse and irrelevant, and the action is intense and intelligent. Despite the OTT “our boys” ending, it’s a film bound for the top ten war films of all time list.

3. Paddington 2

The first Paddington was one of the best kids films I’ve seen in the last 10 years, and Paddington 2 was nearly better. Looks like it could be following in the footsteps of the Toy Story Trilogy.

2. The Death Of Stalin

Iannucci’s sharp political satire gets a Soviet makeover, to amazing results. Both brutally funny and brutally brutal, the film not only leaves us in stitches but counting our lucky stars we live in an era without Stalinistic totalitarianism… and makes us hope it stays that way.

1. The Florida Project

Ken Loach meets John Waters in one of the finest films of the last few years. Real, raw Mike Leigh-like life captured on film with an unexpectedly captivating performance from Willem Dafoe. This is real filmmaking, in the era of special FX, overdone editing and CGI, Sean Baker gives us hope that the doctrine of real drama and great filmmaking being about acting, characters, atmosphere and heart, is not dead.

Worst Films of the year.

Blade Runner 2049 – bloated, too long and without any captivating performances.  La La Land – Blah Blah Bland. Free Fire – cliched and a nice safe kick to touch shoot-em-up, with poor editing and performances. Clash – feels like a drawn out stage play to bore the masses. Handsome Devil – generic story, message and dialogue (“If you spend your whole life being someone else, who’s gonna be you?!?!).

Sarah Cullen

I’m really hoping no one tries to psychoanalyse me after seeing my top 5 from this year: it is veeery horror-heavy. Possibly unreasonably so. Still, I’ve had my fun and that’s all that matters.


A pity that Paul Verhoeven’s Elle came out early in 2017 as it feels eerily prescient with the advent of the #metoo movement. One of the oddest things is what Elle was being advertised for – a business woman is attacked and raped in her own home – is almost a side story in the film’s wider exploration of the exploitation of women and their work. In other words, the film’s home invasion plot is rendered quite tame in the grand scheme of things. This is not a criticism, and instead a sick realisation that, just as Elle shrugs off the rape, in a lot of ways it’s just par for the course for many women. Yes, THAT is what makes it so terrifying.


Following on from my praise of Spotlight last year, I feel like something of an Oscar shill (when in reality I just really like films with the word “light” in their title). Yet here we are. Not only is it a powerhouse of amazing performances with a wonderful soundtrack, it’s an incredibly cathartic film experience (and yes, I include the hit-him-with-a-chair sequence in that). What pushes Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight over the edge is one of the most brave and devastating concluding moments imaginable. The kind of film that makes everything hurt, in the best way possible.

Get Out

It feels like Get Out has already solidified its place in film history, what with the amount of critical discussion it has generated. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been out for less than a year: while it would be unfair to claim that Get Out was solely responsible for the renaissance in horror, it’s fair to say Jordan Peele has been a big factor in horror being recognised anew for its potential. Peele also successfully brings his comedic chops to the film and it’s often hard to know whether to scream or laugh with many of the performances treading a fine line between horror and comedy.


There are valid criticisms to be made of Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. It’s probably too long, and we are ultimately getting another white point of view of black history: in particular, historical inaccuracies regarding some of the characters is troubling. However, it was also one of my most visceral film experiences of 2017. Thanks to extremely impressive performances and masterful cinematography, at times it becomes almost painful to watch. Furthermore, Detroit’s sickening culmination is so unbelievable and yet inevitable – so horrifying and surreal – I still suspect that Detroit might secretly be the year’s most ingenious macabre comedy. And it’s had some seriously stiff competition, particularly considering the year that’s in it.

Better Watch Out

I have found a new staple for my annual Christmas watch. Better Watch Out starts off well enough, as a smart, quippy little festive horror movie, but ultimately morphs into something much more formidable and intelligent. Not only is it an excellent genre film, using both the potentials and limitations of the home invasion narrative to create something rather innovative, it also brings a surprising amount of nuance to what have now become stock characters. Part When A Stranger Calls, part Funny Games, and of course many parts Home Alone, director Chris Peckover has created a truly chilling horror which challenges many preconceived notions of the home invasion narrative.


The Edge of Seventeen

While by no stretch of the imagination the worst film of the year, Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen was such a disappointment in light of its potential. Considering it’s a female-directed, female-starring film about err, femaleness, the amount of internalised misogyny dripping off the screen was shocking. Thank goodness for brothers, sons and male teachers. How else would girls and women be reminded of their numerous shortcomings? I strongly hope that Stevie Nicks does not endorse its message.

Richard Drumm

Twin Peaks: The Return

Is this a cheat entry? Absolutely. But if Sight and Sound and Cahiers du Cinema can include it in their top 2 of the year, I can put it in as 1. After a decade of nothing new – cinematically speaking, he did release two albums amongst other things – Lynch’s self-described 18-hour film was an embarrassment of riches. Wrong-footing everyone with a vague marketing campaign designed to evoke the very worst of modern reboot culture, the epic was ultimately an unflinching evisceration of nostalgia, backwards-looking rose-tinting and attempts to recapture the past. Frequently funny, consistently unnerving and oppressively atmospheric, The Return was a swirling miasma of everything Lynch had made before, reconstituted and repurposed to destroy any preconceived notions of what television could be and remind everyone else what art-house cinema should be. An astonishing triple (arguably quadruple) central performance from MacLachlan and the existence of episode 8 alone would be enough to qualify it but taken as a whole, few examples of any medium could hope to match it in the near future.


There’s no need to justify this, you know why it’s here. But due to Irish release schedules, this last-year movie is technically a this-year movie.


No one has become a bigger Nolan-sceptic in recent years than me. The trailers for this were boring and drowning in the staples of dull-Nolan; vagueness and unearned smug, brooding portent. I also don’t find much to interest me in war films. Imagine my surprise when this film came screaming into a 70mm screening like one its own terrifying plans. Stripping the war film to its essence to see a group of scared, largely children, flee from faceless death was as exhilarating as it was legitimately terrifying. The gorgeous cinematography of the dogfights and near unbearable tension of Zimmer’s score alone justified the 70mm. Trite a phrase as it may be, this truly was a return to true cinema.

Wonder Woman

Speaking of needing to put a twist on a war film to make it interesting…

Literal decades have been spent telling us they’d never make a WW film because no one would watch it and no studio would let anyone make an actual film rather than another in the litany of embarrassing female led superhero films. Here we are; a full-blooded war film, a traditional and optimistic superhero movie and a financial success the likes of which no one expected. Gal Gadot continues to be a hell of a find, it’s a relief to see a DC film smash through the wall of grim-dark macho insecurity and who knew letting a woman direct a major blockbuster would lead to something a bit different and refreshingly free of male-gaze action scenes. It’s almost as if female directors have been unduly denied access to such blockbusters for no good reason for decades.

Gerald’s Game

Quite the list of cinematic sacrilege this is becoming, first a TV show and now a Netflix original, straight-to-streaming film? In any case, in a year of simultaneously middling horror and (for the most part) very strong Stephen King adaptations, this film stood out in both  categories. A low-key, largely single location horror/thriller, in which Carla Gugino delivers an all-encompassing central performance with a commitment and ease that doesn’t even seem aware of the fact that entire film rests on her quite literally immobile shoulders. Aside from excellent pacing, the aforementioned performance and an atmosphere of escalating terror, it was unquestionably one of the more effective horrors of the year on both a body-horror and genuine creepiness front. Not a second of it wasted, little in the way of CGI and a film that left you wanting to sleep with the light on for a while afterwards.

Shauna Fox

La La Land

A joyful appreciation of jazz music; an absolute masterpiece, one that I hope will someday be up there with some of the greatest musicals ever made. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are electric together, their chemistry totally believable. The musical numbers are great and the tap dancing is reminiscent of Singing in the Rain. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Thor: Ragnarok

A brilliant debut to the Marvel Cinematic Universe by director Taika Waititi. A comedic and fresh take on the Thor. It’s loud, colourful and gives a new facet to already beloved characters.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Rian Johnson hits the mark with episode VIII of the Star Wars I would nearly argue it’s the best one yet, and really nostalgic of the original movies from the ’70s and ’80s. Suspenseful, action-packed, character driven – a real powerhouse of a movie that ticks every box.


A vicious and emotional story of the few surviving mutants left. An indie take on the X-men series, it was definitely the best Wolverine film made, and a top-notch performance from Hugh Jackman. It was risk to take Wolverine in a new direction, and it was a gamble that really paid off.

Beauty and the Beast

Beautifully created, the CGI was amazing, and the musical numbers were brilliantly performed. It was fun and humorous, honouring the original cartoon, while still leaving its own stamp, giving a modern take on a childhood favourite by bringing in the topics of feminism and homosexuality.

Paul Farren

The five films of 2017 that have hung around the old grey matter (in no particular order) are

The Other Side of Hope

Aki Kaurismäki’s off-centre tale of refugees and no hopers. Two men meet, one a refugee trying to find asylum, the other a man who has left his alcoholic wife and makes a wild attempt at succeeding in the restaurant business. What follows is a unique tale of humanity and great humour with a fairy-tale ending that can only happen in the movies.

Toni Erdmann

A three-hour tale of a practical joker father trying to connect with his serious business-woman daughter. Unpredictable, painful, funny and filled with a similar eschewed look at humanity that Kaurismäki might be proud of.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Didn’t float everyone’s boat this year but it’s eccentric take on the fantasy/superhero world with a dose of sitcom put a smile on my face. The spectacle was fine but it was the character moments that amused the most. It also managed to sneak in the chirpiest massacre into a 12A film and no one seemed to notice. Favourite line – “Look at me I’m Mary Poppins”.


Provided us with Christopher Nolan’s take on Britain’s great escape from the beaches of France. Many reviewers saw a Brexit metaphor in the proceedings, historical purists were upset by its lack of facts. For me, it was an existential presentation of the absurdities of war. It’s lack of a true cathartic vindication to its events being its strongest point.

Thor: Ragnorak

A giddy delight, managing to tightrope walk between parody and seriousness. At times it was in danger of shooting itself in the foot with its knowing cheekiness but the sheer fun of it all and solid performances made it probably the funniest superhero film since Marvel started making these things. It also featured the most dialogue to come out of the Hulk so far – that might not mean much to many but to those who care…

Niall Glynn

1. Twin Peaks: The Return

Maybe a controversial pick but David Lynch’s self-professed 18-hour TV film is irrefutably the most strikingly original and fascinating examples of an auteur working without constraints or studio fiddling in years. A spit in the eye to pointless nostalgia baiting reboots and perhaps the great American surrealist’s greatest work to date. No spoilers but episode 8 may well be the most incredible hour of television ever produced. Following up the wrongly maligned masterpiece Fire Walk with Me was no simple task but The Return will easily be the most discussed and dissected work of art from 2017 for me.

2. Lady Macbeth

Brutally undermarketed Lady Macbeth channels the spirit of the Brontë sisters and delivers a hauntingly bleak tale of repression, ambition, sexuality and morality. Florence Pugh delivers a stunning performance as the lady of the house and her transformation from victim to victimiser is unforgettable.

3. The Florida Project

Films from a child’s POV can be brutally nauseating but Sean Baker’s Florida Project succeeds through it’s wonderfully unrestrained child performers and empathetic understanding of the outcasts who populate the Magic Kingdom motel. Willem Dafoe delivers a career best performance as the establishments owner, a tough but fair defender of his downtrodden flock.

4. mother!

Pretentious or profound? Biblical or farcical? Debates rage on over Arronofsky’s latest work but for the sheer lunacy and ambition of the film it cannot be doubted that mother! is one of the most interesting mainstream releases this year. An impressive A-list cast stage a visceral allegory on the nature of creation and in doing so deliver a cinematic experience that made this viewer nauseous and incredibly anxious… in the best possible way.

5. Dunkirk

Bouncing back after a disastrous step into science-fiction, Christopher Nolan delivered a World War 2 film that finally broke from the mould Saving Private Ryan established in 1998. Focusing on a larger picture of the Dunkirk evacuation rather than the usual attempts at tear-jerking and callous attention seeking gore (I’m looking at you Hacksaw Ridge) Nolan shows his strengths whilst wisely avoiding his usual weaknesses.

Honourable mentions: War for the Planet of the Apes and The Last Jedi demonstrated how to retain artistic principle within the confines of a big budget blockbuster. A Monster Calls was the antithesis of the usual manure doled out as children’s films and T2 Trainspotting was a beautifully realised portrait of mid-life crises and an overall more nuanced and powerful film than the original. Also Logan Lucky reminded me how much I missed Steven Soderbergh and John Wick Chapter 2 provided some great action set pieces.

Turkey of the Year

Ghost in the Shell

A fascinatingly dull film. Within the first five minutes I had lost all interest in the events of the picture and instead began thinking about Scarlett Johansson’s haircut for the remainder of the film. Despite being a remake of a cartoon there was nothing animated about this mess.

Loretta Goff

Get Out

Jordan Peele takes a break from comedy with his directorial debut, which he also wrote the screenplay for. Despite Get Out being nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Comedy or Musical, the film is anything but. Unnerving throughout, with a particularly strong performance from Daniel Kaluuya in the lead role, Get Out offers social commentary on racism and the horrors it breeds, both past and ever-present.

Wind River

Set on the remote Wind River Reservation in Wyoming following the mysterious death of a young Native American woman, this film is a difficult but excellent watch. Writer-director Taylor Sheridan once again captures the essence of isolation, desperation and grief equally present in his screenplays for Sicario (2015) and Hell or High Water (2016). This film excels in its character studies, with a strong cast all-around, and in the careful construction of its solemn, defeated atmosphere, with a pervasive sense of being simultaneously trapped by and cast aside from society and justice on the reservation.

Oh Lucy!

Deftly blending comedy with serious subject matter and plenty of surprises, director Atsuko Hirayanagi achieves a great deal in her first feature film. Oh Lucy! tells the story of a lonely, middle-aged Japanese woman (Shinobu Terajima) who embarks on an unexpected adventure when her English tutor (Josh Hartnett) suddenly leaves Tokyo. Offering an exploration of identity—both in crisis and at different levels of performance—this film takes you on a journey along with its titular character.


Taking social satire to new (much smaller) heights, writer-director Alexander Payne tackles environmental unsustainability with the novel approach of “downsizing” the population—shrinking humans to a height of four inches to reduce consumption and the harm we do to our environment. Motivations for “downsizing” are not always altruistic, however, and, as a microcosm of society, the downsized population faces the same capitalist motivations, class struggles and rampant consumerism as its larger counterpart. Particularly humorous performances from Cristoph Waltz and Hong Chau offer quite a bit of levity in this film that takes a close look at human behaviour and moral implications.


A superhero road movie of sorts, Logan delivers an emotional punch as it tackles issues of aging and the marginalisation of a community (in this case of mutants) to the point of near-extinction. In his last turn as Wolverine, Hugh Jackman gives an outstanding performance that balances the character’s strengths with his vulnerabilities. The film is gritty and full of action, but its quieter moments are equally powerful.

I also want to give special mention to Ladybird and Moonlight, both excellent films which I have not included in my list solely because of the timing of their release (the first I have not yet been able to see in Ireland and the second I would technically class as a 2016 film) but that are equally worthy of being on it.

Liam Hanlon



It currently seems that it will be overlooked during the impending awards season, yet Dunkirk was a technical masterpiece and a true feat of cinematic excellence. I sat in awe and sheer suspense of what was happening before my eyes, especially in 70mm, and this was always going to be my number one film of 2017. Christopher Nolan did not let me down.

Call Me by Your Name

This film has stuck in my mind since seeing it and I truly loved every minute spent in the immersive Italian countryside in the 1980s with Elio’s coming-of-age story. A lot of deserved praise has gone to Michael Stuhlbarg’s speech, but my main highlight was Timothée Chalamet’s fireplace credits scene, which was another emotional suckerpunch. The Sufjan Stevens songs were another highlight, as well as The Psychedelic Furs allowing for Armie Hammer’s dancing.

T2 Trainspotting

Initial fears about one of my favourite film’s legacy were calmed after seeing the return of Renton and the gang. This was always going to be a tricky film to convert into a sequel, yet Danny Boyle managed a successful conversion. T2 Trainspotting includes subtle homages to the original and doesn’t strive to be a carbon copy of Trainspotting. Its middle-aged characters live out their middle-aged anxieties and this film acknowledges that fact in a film that I thoroughly enjoyed as much as its predecessor.


In a film that includes lots of humour, as well as serious issues such as sexual assault, Isabelle Huppert offers a performance that I admired. The film’s plot is a difficult subject to approach cinematically and Paul Verhoeven could not have created this film without its leading actor. Huppert drives the character’s arc past the toxic masculine and patriarchal forces and her acting powerfully demonstrates the agency of the titular character and her strong femininity.

Twin Peaks: The Return

Yes, it’s technically a television series, I understand that. However, this series was a cinematic experience which David Lynch previously described as one large script that happened to be segmented into eighteen episodes, or parts, in this case. Personally, the series felt like a thematic continuation of Lynch’s oeuvre and especially Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, rather than the original two seasons, and I intend on arguing for its cinematic qualities, as well as its televisual qualities.

Very Honourable Mentions: The Florida Project, A Ghost Story, Get Out, Handsome Devil, mother!, A Monster Calls.

Michael Lee

1. It Comes at Night

Offered us a dark suffocating atmosphere of sheer paranoia that’s befitting for the current ideological rift between left and right.

2. Bladerunner 2049

The most potent visionary sequel I’ve ever seen. If Denis Villeneuve is a hero for the times, then Blade Runner is a mantra to live by.

3. The Beguiled

Sofia Coppola’s remake is a nail-biting tragedy, ripe with tension and a fervent dark sexuality.

4. The Lost City of Z

One of the absolute hidden gems this year.

5. Lady Macbeth

An intoxicating sinister tale, Hitchcock meets Wuthering Heights.

Hannah Lemass


Get Out

A satirical dark comedy meets psychological thriller that holds a mirror to the bleaker corners of society. It is the story of Chris, brilliantly played by Daniel Kaluuya, who is setting out to meet his girlfriend’s family for the first time. This is a terrifying ordeal at the best times but Chris’ story takes a horrific turn filled with suspense, emotion and humour. It is my top film of the year because of the unique and disturbing way that writer-director Jordan Peele explores racism.

A Ghost Story

It’s not often we walk away from a film and say, “Well… I’ve never seen anything like that before”. In contemporary filmmaking, originality should be treasured and A Ghost Story is certainly original. For that reason, it definitely makes my list of best films of 2017. The film is much more effective if I don’t say too much about it. It is essentially a story of love, loss and longing that is haunting but not the sense of a traditional ghost story.

Song of Granite

Song of Granite is a unique Irish language biopic that merges documentary and drama filmmaking. Set against a raw sounding soundtrack of traditional Irish music and shot in black and white this film is an immersive look into an Ireland of the past and the life of one of the countries great sean-nós singers Joe Heaney. The reason why this film makes my top five is that, while it was not the most energetic or entertaining film this year, it certainly was one of the most artistic and daring. Furthermore, it left a resonating impression on me that turned an initial feeling of indifference into a great appreciation for the film and a new found interest in sean-nós music!

The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist is a biopic based on the 2013 non-fiction book of the same name. The book was written by Greg Sestero, who, in 2003, worked on the now iconic cult classic The RoomThe Room is a film famous for being terrible and The Disaster Artist is a film that tells the behind-the-scenes story. The film has a comedy dream team cast with James Franco pulling off a hugely impressive transformation into Tommy Wiseau the writer-director and star of The Room. This film is a huge treat for anyone who has a soft spot for Wiseau’s masterpiece but will still please those unfamiliar with the original work.

Wonder Woman

With a disappointing run of superhero movies in recent times, Wonder Woman was a huge step in right direction for the genre. This film had a lot of problems and was in many ways a disappointment but it still makes my top 5 list because of how it made me feel. It was not the feminist masterpiece I had hoped it to be but seeing a badass female superhero save the day was still a thrill and a cinematic experience that will stay with me. In addition, the stunning visuals and period set design and costuming made this an entertaining and enjoyable film that is just right for watching on a big screen with popcorn and a large soda.

Conor McMahon


The best in the Wolverine series with a break through performance by Dafne Keen as X-23. Her and Logan make for a great team with echoes of the movie Leon. Nice balance of action and drama and it was genuinely emotional and moving.

Get Out

A great first feature by Jordan Peele, better known for his comedy sketch show Key and Peele. A perfect blend of horror and comedy. It’s genuinely scary when it needs to be and also very funny too. Also unique in its dealings with the race issue and seeing the world from that characters point of view.


While I agree the clown was not as creepy or as scary as the original Penny Wise played by Tim Curry, the performances of the kids were so good that I got lost in the story. Set in 1989 it also plays into the nostalgia vibe that’s become popular with Stranger Things.

Baby Driver

Such an original concept and Edger Wright’s camerawork and choreography is a joy to watch. Again, a charming lead performance sells it. Though his relationship with his girlfriend didn’t quite click for me, it’s not enough to ruin the film.

Lady Macbeth

Set in 19 Century rural England about a young bride sold into marriage. Great use of a single location and a fantastic lead perforamce by Florence Pugh. You’ll relish in her mischief and contempt for her new husband.

Ellen Murray


Blade Runner 2049

A visual feast with a plot that takes genuinely surprising turns, this long awaited follow-up has issues but also enough substance to linger in the mind after the credits have finished.


A fascinating documentary providing an insight into the lives of our feline friends, it is a joy to watch and a refreshing shift of perspective from our constant human-centric world point of view.

Personal Shopper

A chilling thriller that succeeds in embracing the paranormal without swerving into jump-scare territory, Kristen Stewart shines in one of her best ever performances. A ghost story for the modern age.


A sophisticated and sincerely heartfelt Western that strikes at the centre of one of comics’ most enduring characters, Hugh Jackman says farewell with an Oscar-worthy performance that will touch even the most cynical of cinema-goers.

Wonder Woman

Together Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot rose above the mess of the wider DCEU and the dismal box-office predictions from the press to prove that, yes, female superheroes can not only hold a film on their own, but also outdo many of their male counterparts. Funny, earnest and action-packed, the film plays like good old fashioned romp with distinctly contemporary feel.

Honourable Mentions: Paddington 2, It, Get Out, Call Me By Your Name, mother!

Aoife O’Ceallachain



Based on the true story of what occurred during the Detroit riots in 1967, white police officers hold a group of young black men hostage while they search for a gun that doesn’t exist. You don’t want to believe it’s based on a true story because it’s so traumatising. The handheld camera heightens the overwhelming tension that leaves you shaking by the end of the film. Detroit is guaranteed to make you angry about institutionalised racism, about who has the power. There are problems, such as a white crew who seem unaccustomed to lighting black actors, and a lack of black women represented (where the black women at?), but it resonates with you and will keep you hooked to the last second. You’ll need to talk to someone once it’s over.

Toni Erdmann

Retired Winfried tries to reunite with his career-driven daughter, Ines, by wearing a wig and false teeth and pretending to be her life coach. It sounds absurd, and it is. But it’s smart, funny, sensitive. Winfried slowly brings Ines out of her shell and encourages her to be more spontaneous. The running time is long, but if you’re looking for a story you haven’t seen before, you won’t be disappointed.

I Am Not Your Negro

A documentary based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin. Samuel L. Jackson narrates how Baldwin moved back to America from Paris not because he was homesick for anything American, but because he wanted to “pay his dues”. The film investigates issues such as black fatherhood in cinema, the number of young black men and women murdered by police, and coming to terms with your skin colour in a mixture of documentary footage and chilling slideshows.

I Am Not Your Negro argues that America doesn’t know what to do with the black population now that they don’t pick cotton, and the film tries to find worth in the black body in a nation that has inflicted horrible pain on them for centuries. The film culminates in recent Black Lives Matter protests, with Kendrick Lamar’s powerful ‘Blacker the Berry’ playing over the credits. Watch and learn.


In Canada, 1976, teenage Kit runs away from home to live with his artistic mother. His girlfriend Alice, goes with him, hoping to lose her virginity. They go to find Kit’s mother, but end up finding themselves (with the help of his imaginary friend, Andy Warhol). It’s a touching coming-of-age story, with laugh out loud moments and a stellar cast. Beautifully shot in black and white, Julia Sarah Stone, who plays Alice, is destined to go far. Unfortunately, it was only shown during the IFI Open Day, but it is definitely worth tracking down.

A Monster Calls

Based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, and brought to fruition by Patrick Ness, a 12-year-old boy is visited by a tree monster at midnight. The tree comes every night to help Conor (Lewis MacDougall) deal with emotions about his mother’s terminal cancer. MacDougall is a strong actor, able to bring vulnerability, sincerity and intensity to the role as necessary. A story about a child who has to grow up too soon, Conor calls the monster because he needs to learn to be brave, to face his fears, to deal with bullies, and with death. A Monster Calls is a tearjerker more likely to satisfy adults than children.

Ailbhe O’ Reilly


Lady Macbeth

It is hard to know whose side to be on in this claustrophobic drama. Your allegiance changes back and forth throughout this engaging drama, but one thing is for sure Florence Pugh is terrifyingly absorbing and a fantastic new talent.

Get Out

A scary film with a twist that makes you question how you see the goodie and baddie roles in films. A fantasticly entertaining reflection of the political landscape in the US in particular.

La La Land

I watched this modern classic during a dreary January and the film has the power to do what all good classics do – it brings you out of your reality and delivers what we all need from the cinema experience – escapism. Nearly a year on and I still enjoy the songs, so that’s must be a sign of the a great film.

Ingrid Goes West

Similar to Get Out, Ingrid Goes West captured some of the embarrassing flaws of our generation – our obsession with social media and, in particular, our fake life we live through this lens and the intense desire to be “liked”. Aubrey Plaza is hilarious as the slightly mad Ingrid who worms her way into a L.A. socialites life, also well played by Elizabeth Olsen, to disastrous consequences.

Wind River

My last choice was a film that did not get as recognized as it should have this year. Subtle and emotionally performances by Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner who tell an important story about the Native American community and the female members of this communities experiences. Intense, beautifully shot in a gorgeous setting and a story that stays with you.

Sean O’Rourke


Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s brilliant novel is an unfortunate casualty of audience apathy. A deliberately paced film that never felt slow, Silence does not offer easy answers to its viewer in its meditations on the possibility of reconciling faith with brutality. It is a truly thoughtful, challenging film that I still think about often nearly a year after its release.

Killing of a Sacred Deer

It is a rare film that can be called truly unpredictable. Killing of a Sacred Deer, at least for me, earned such praise. Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow up to The Lobster manages to mix an abundance of genres that I’m apprehensive to name for fear of ruining even a small piece of the film for those who haven’t seen it. If you’ve the stomach for something more than a bit horrifying, do yourself and watch the film before someone spoils anything.


I can’t say I’ve had an experience in a cinema this year quite like Dunkirk. In most films you might have the chance to divert your attention away from the screen every now and again, even if only for a few seconds. Dunkirk’s grand visuals and overpowering score (thanks again, Hans Zimmer) commanded my attention throughout its run-time. It was a film that left me exhausted by its end, a true mark of success for a film like this.


When looking at the critical reaction to Moonlight, a film that has received praise after accolade after praise, it might be easy to assume it is overrated. However, director Barry Jenkins won yet another adoring acolyte of his eminently powerful film when I finally got around to watching it earlier this year. It is a movie that pulls you into its world, a world of great performances and beautiful visual compositions that do not exist for their own sake, but instead serve, as does every element of the film, to bring you into the experience of its characters; these broken, conflicted, beautiful characters who find breakage, conflict, and beauty all around them.


It has been over a month since I saw November and I still can’t even start to get my head around it or figure out quite how I feel about it. Suffice to say, however, it is the most unique film I have seen this year. Going into this movie, one must simply let go of any and all preconceived notions of logic and go along with the winding, unwieldy story. That it does this so ably is a testament to Rainer Sarnet’s confusing, strange, overwhelming, and, above all, beautiful vision.

Brian O’Tiomain

1. The Florida Project
2. Wind River
3. The Drummer and the Keeper
4. Ingrid Goes West
5. Beauty and the Beast

James Phelan


The Farthest

Emer Reynolds’ documentary is a timely reminder of our place in the world and in the universe. Charting the Voyager mission and celebrating the furthest distance a man-made object has ever travelled, this film is an eye-opening voyage into the unknown for most. It serves as a celebration of both NASA and human ingenuity. Its domestic premiere was thrown away lightly in a graveyard slot on TV. This is the film we should be watching as a nation on Christmas Day. Or New Year’s Day. Or every day.

Get Out

What was the last really important horror film? Not important in terms of genre. Just important. Get Out is actually about something but never fails to be engaging, thrilling and naturally – considering the comedic chops of its’ creator – it is infused with the darkest hue of humour. It’s a case of metaphor and high-concept premise being much stronger than depicting actual events. The enormity of the realisation of what that silent auction actually is; is rightfully devastating and chilling.

Wind River

Taylor Sheridan was clearly paying attention on set as his other scripts were being filmed. After handing over Sicario and Hell or High Water, it was fascinating that he kept this icy thriller for his directorial debut.
At first glance, it’s not as showy as his other work as Jeremy Renner and Mary Elizabeth Olsen team up to track a killer in modern-day Indian territory. The film has a slow fuse and casts a compelling spell in the choking cloying whiteness of the landscape. With precious few films for grown-ups getting into cinemas anymore, this felt like a work of rare intelligence. I found it moving and in its climatic scenes it moved me to the edge of my seat.

The Handmaiden 

A busy year for both Handmaids and Handmaidens. This was an English novel transplanted to South Korea with surprisingly brilliant results. A swirling dark sensual confection of steamy scheming and betrayal. Impossible to follow but so ravishing, it’s impossible to resist too.

Thor Ragnarok

Oh yes. The most fun at the cinema award. And who thought Thor 3 would be such a beacon for the way forward for superhero films. Clearly benefitting from the narrower focus of just Thor and the Hulk in the main, this was heroic, daft and heroically daft. Undercutting his character’s innate hubris, Hemsworth is great company as he loses his hammer but doesn’t lose his way. Featuring more Kiwis than one might expect in deep space, this was a hoot.

Pleasant surprises

Wonder Woman and Happy Death Day

DC finally craft a decent film and Gal Gadot soars. She alone couldn’t save a shabby Justice League but she needs to fly solo for a while. Maybe World War 2 and Nazis next? But can DC show the wit to not rush their only ace? The latter is just another micro-budget Blumhouse juggernaut that reworked Groundhog Day as a comedy horror and quietly accumulated major bank with no stars and no bother.

Unexpectedly awful

Free Fire and John Wick 2

Balletic gun violence only exists in movies. It isn’t fun in real life and right now it’s not fun in movies either. I’m all for a simple premise but stretching one action scene across 100 minutes is just tiresome in the extreme. Firing blanks on both fronts.

Worst film of the year


A film that proved Darren has never watched Life of Brian. If he had he wouldn’t have bother inflicting this on the world. His ‘oh so clever’ parable could have used the same stock footage of J-Law looking stunned at the arrival of each visitor. From its circuitous short film cliché ending to its highfalutin philosophising, let’s remember this is a film that actually invited us to watch paint dry at one point.

Stephen Porzio


1. Blade Runner 2049

One of the most ambitious blockbusters ever released, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to the Ridley Scott classic not only stood up to the original, it may have surpassed it. Taking the best elements of its predecessor but forking its own distinct path to explore Dickian themes on the unreliability of memories and dreams, 2049’s whopping 163-minute running time felt wholly earned. The slow but hypnotic pace was intoxicating. Meanwhile, I could have watched Ryan Gosling brood in the most realistic and sublime sci-fi environments ever put on screen (God bless DOP Roger Deakins) for another four hours.

2. Elle

As jet-black a movie as seemingly possible, the legendary Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct) returned to the silver screen this year with Elle. Isabelle Huppert stars as a woman who, after being raped, decides to find and confront her attacker all by herself. What follows is both a disturbing exploration of sadomasochism, trauma and society’s fixation with violence against women as well as the darkest of comedies about a woman trying to juggle her high-class career and chaotic home life as she comes to terms with her assault. It’s transgressive, consistently surprising and feels at any moment like it could become horrendously offensive. Yet, Huppert’s Oscar-nominated, multi-layered and complex performance keeps it afloat. She makes her character comic, infuriating, strong and tragic, all in equal measure – a post-feminist hero for the ages.

3. The Handmaiden

Under the guise of a period drama, Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy) made one of the most riotously entertaining, funny and sexiest thrillers of the year. A tale of betrayal and seduction in 1930’s Korean high society, The Handmaiden is the most successful film in recent memory to channel the spirit of Hitchcock’s best work. Over the course of the drama, we see characters’ desires for each other slowly enhancing through voyeuristic glimpses and stolen touches, eventually being unleashed in unexpected fits of pleasure. All the while, Chan-Wook swaps between character POV’s, casting information we previously took as given into doubt as scenes are replayed from different perspectives. The result is a movie that tantalises while keeping viewers on their toes right up until the moment it reveals its endgame. Here all the pieces of the narrative jigsaw come together, and one realises that Chan-Wook for 145 minutes has been setting the stage for our female heroes to vanquish their male oppressors. Terrific stuff.

4. Get Out

A near-perfect horror-thriller, Get Out is a roller-coaster ride that moves from a dread-induced Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, to a hilarious satire, to a mind-twisting sensory experience, and finally to an action-packed finale with such ease. Much of this success is down to comedian and first-time writer-director Jordan Peele’s script. It really – through sharp dialogue and layered symbolism – conveys the awkwardness of underlying, hidden racism, a bigotry that has mutated from burning crosses to something subtler in a post-Obama world.

5. Free Fire

Those tired of heroes facing CGI hordes should do themselves the favour of seeking out the latest from the frequently fantastic Ben Wheatley. Essentially a ninety-minute shoot out after a gun-deal gone wrong in a warehouse in ’70s Boston, the movie is an exercise in bringing action back to its grittier, more intimate origins where the viewer felt every punch. The ensemble cast and soundtrack bring such a swagger. Meanwhile, one could easily make a case the film is actually about the horrors of toxic masculinity and gun violence. Trap a group of guys in a warehouse with an endless supply of guns and ammo, soon bullets will fly – even when there are so many chances to walk away peacefully.

David Prendeville


1. Elle

The magisterial Isabelle Huppert gives one of her greatest ever performances in Paul Verhoeven’s acidic, misanthropic, complex and disturbing thriller.

2. Toni Erdmann

Maren Ade’s richly observational and ultimately very sad comedy drama stands out as an utterly singular and evocative piece of work.

3. Christine

A superb performance by Rebecca Hall is the centre of Antonio Campos’ deeply disquieting and sympathetic portrait of Christine Chubbuck.

4. Good Time

Powered by Oneothrix Point Never’s sensational score, this electrifying thriller combines terrific formal adventurous with rich characterisation and humanity.

5. Graduation

Cristian Mungui’s insidious, fiercely intelligent and all too relevant tale of corruption confirms his status as a consistently uncompromising modern auteur.

Honourable Mentions: Happy End, Suntan, The Eyes of My Mother, Raw, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Personal Shopper, Get Out, Ingrid Goes West.
Also, while not strictly a film, special mention has to be made to Twin Peaks: The Return. David Lynch’s return to the moving image after a decade away was as subversive, beautiful and original as anyone could have possibly hoped for it to be.

David Turpin

Personal Shopper
The Florida Project
Lady Macbeth
The Handmaiden

Brian Quinn


A Ghost Story

Unlike anything I’ve seen all year, David Lowery’s elegant meditation on grief gorging through time proves both subtle and bold in equal measure.

Moving deftly between flickers of absurdity and pain the film’s minimalist approach appears simple but never simplistic. Its tender score like blossoming bruises, seeps into the frame whose tight and rounded edges seem to usher us through scenes of forgotten home-movies as if held captive to memory’s carousel.

Call Me By Your Name

A charming chemistry coupled with an exquisite sense of time and place. Luca Guadagnino latest film is a quietly radical love story which floats on a breeze of sensual delight.

It Comes at Night

Patient and precise. Trey Edward Shults’ second feature curdles with festering paranoia and explores elusive truth making it the perfect cinematic post mortem on Trump’s America.

Good Time

The Safdie brother’s neon odyssey brims with wonderful performances, pulsating sights and sounds while exploring the politics of race in a way that seems both provocative and poignant.

Ex Libris

Only Frederick Wiseman could make a 3-hour film about the New York library system so engrossing. Now 87, Wiseman is still peeling back institutions to unearth something utterly profound. His camera lingers in corners, reshaping libraries into havens of cultural exchange.

Honorable mentions: Cameraperson,  Body and Soul, Get Out

Jonathan Victory


5. The Farthest

I was lucky enough to interview Emer Reynolds, the director of ADIFF Audience Award winner The Farthest (here). That’s not why I chose The Farthest. I chose this uplifting documentary on NASA’s Voyager programme because it is an Irish film with a global consciousness and an assured understanding of cinematic storytelling. The Farthest brings a mind-blowing achievement of science to a wider audience with a strong mix of visual effects, archive footage and a gender-balanced range of great interview subjects. Processing the implications of the farthest human-made objects from Earth with this celebration of humanity’s potential is well worth doing. Watch on the biggest screen you can find.

4. Dunkirk

Again, watch Dunkirk on the biggest screen you can find. This is very much a cinematic experience, immersing the audience in a gripping survival story inspired by true events. The 70mm format has been pioneered to stunning effect in Christopher Nolan’s visceral recreation of a war-defining moment in World War II. By structuring the narrative with three different timelines of varying length, Nolan isn’t just calling attention to the grammar of cinema. Framing the action from different perspectives highlights how one’s subjective vantage point effects your experience of war. One nice addition would have been an extra minute of screen-time titled “4. The Rearguard – One Minute” to show the sacrifice French soldiers made at Dunkirk.

3. Moonlight

I’m not really into musicals but Damien Chazelle is such a great filmmaker and I think… Sorry. It’s actually Moonlight, not La La Land. There was some kind of mix-up but it’s Moonlight. The Oscar for Best Picture going to Moonlight is an example of a good decision from the Academy. Three actors seamlessly portray the shocking transformation at the centre of the film. The visuals are beautiful and often edited with a skilfully disorienting effect. The music weaves from rap to Mozart as tender sexuality and toxic masculinity are painfully contrasted through knockout performances. The Academy was also right to recognise in particular Naomie Harris with a nomination and Mahershala Ali with an Oscar.

2. Mr. Robot (Season 3)

Watching Twin Peaks exhausts my brain so I have yet to finish it. The visionary David Lynch has been recognised with leading film publications placing the TV show Twin Peaks in Films of the Year lists. Since words don’t matter any more, I shall honour the superb work of Mr. Robot showrunner Sam Esmail. Rami Malek and Portia Doubleday deserve all acting awards. The thrilling real-time episode “Runtime Error” holds on one continuous take. “Don’t Delete Me” was another bold risk, to have a slow episode on mental health and its moving impact pays off beautifully. Eerie images of creeping American fascism feel uncomfortably real in the background of a season that got better and better. Mr. Robot will be remembered as an important reflection of our time and the issues we faced.

1. Loving Vincent

My film of the year is a masterpiece made from thousands of masterpieces. Each frame of Loving Vincent was hand-painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh in a wildly impractical form of feature filmmaking that will never be replicated. This forms a powerful tribute to Van Gogh’s work, as if defiantly life-affirming against the mental illness that drove him to suicide. It is enthralling to see such a shimmeringly beautiful animation style unfold on a big screen to Clint Mansell’s stirring score. A strong cast of actors imbued with moving compassion play real-life subjects of Van Gogh’s paintings investigating mysteries around the circumstances of his death. Not many films have me crying in the first ten minutes. This special experience is not to be missed by anyone who cares for art or film.



Our Favourite Films of 2017


Our Favourite Films of 2017

Our children of the dark emerged from the dreams of film to give us their personal highlights of 2017. The results were translated into data and fed into a bleeping machine which worked overnight to tally up votes and spew forth a Top Ten on perforated paper tape.

And it goes a little something like this…


10. Toni Erdmann

“A truly original, endlessly rich, extremely moving and quietly transcendental piece of work”

(Read David Prendeville’s review)

9. Logan

“For its fans, this finale is as badass and poignant as they ever could have hoped”

(Read Michael O’Sullivan’s review)

8. Blade Runner 2049

“baptizes you in the blood, sweat and tears of pure artistry” 

(Read Michael Lee’s review)

7. Elle

 “a deceptively complex, uproariously misanthropic, unclassifiable original”

(Read David Prendeville’s review)

6. The Florida Project

“a film with an abundance of heart” 

(Read Sadhbh Ni Bhroin’s review)

5. Lady Macbeth

“An intoxicating sinister tale, Hitchcock meets Wuthering Heights.”

 (Michael Lee)

4. Wind River

“a masterclass in tension”

(Read Andrew Carroll’s review)

3. Moonlight

“a reminder that cinema can be a profound human experience”

(Read Stephen Porzio’s review)

2. Dunkirk

 “Nolan provides a cinematic involvement that only his films can offer”

(Read Liam Hanlon’s review)

1. Get Out

“an ingenious satire on the commodification of the African American body in white American culture”

(Read Sarah Cullen’s review)


Films of 2017 – Writers’ Choice


Our Favourite Irish Films of 2017



Our Favourite Irish Films of 2017

2017 was another strong year for Irish film with a fine fettle of fiction and fact, reflected in our ten choices. There’s gangsters and outer space – sadly not in the same film – revenge and roller skates, human rights’ campaigns and epic journeys, forbidden love and joyous paintings, soul mates and visionary psychiatrists. 


Cardboard Gangsters

Mark O’Connor

“gut-wrenching and powerful”

Read Annie Curran’s review 

The Farthest 

Emer Reynolds

“a superb cinematic experience” 

Read Jonathan Victory’s review

The Killing of a Sacred Deer 

Yorgos Lanthimos

“A nasty, hilarious, distinctive treat”

Read David Prendeville’s review 


Len Collin

“ambitious, innovative and deeply moving”

Read Seán Crosson’s review


Aisling Walsh

“a quiet triumph for Aisling Walsh, and for Irish cinema”

Read Niall McArdle’s review

Condemned to Remember

Gerry Gregg

 “a powerful reminder of the horrors that human beings commit again and again right up to the present day”

Read Sean O’Rourke’s review


Laura McGann

 “fierce, lovable and scrappy”

Read Stephen Porzio’s review

Meetings With Ivor 

Alan Gilsenan

“as cinematically striking and experimental as it is thematically pertinent”

Read Naomi Shea’s review

The Drummer and The Keeper

Nick Kelly

 “impressive, moving and often funny”

Read Stephen Burke’s review

Jaha’s Promise

Patrick FarrellyKate O’Callaghan

“such a crucial story that it cannot be ignored”

Read Sarah Cullen’s review




Watch Short Film: ‘Last Service’ & ‘Forgotten Paradise’

Bertie Brosnan’s new short art-films Last Service and Forgotten Paradise funded by the Cork City Arts are available online for free


Forgotten Paradise is a short film following a silent homeless man as he quietly ponders his last day. Forgotten Paradise stars Charlie Ruxton (Into The West, Titanic: Blood & Steel)


Last Service is a short documentary following a Gravedigger as he goes about his day at home and in work and like Forgotten Paradise, there is more to this man than meets the eye. Featuring Stephen O’ Connor (The Young Offenders)

Director, Bertie says: “It was a wonderful experience creating these films, the budget was only 3,000 euros but I was able to harness the creative powers of small crews and the wonderfully talented Charlie Ruxton and Stephen O’ Connor. As a writer, I am always interested in characters that have a depth to them that isn’t always apparent. As a society, we judge and marginalize ‘types’ of people in a matter of seconds, as we never take the time to understand a little about them. With these two shorts films, I am hoping to shed some light on two characters that our society has preconceived judgement.”

Bertie Brosnan (Con, Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) produced, directed and edited Last Service & Forgotten Paradise. Brian O’ Connor (Con, Message) shot both films. And, both were coloured by Phillip Morozov (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Con). Sound Design by Brian Lane (Date Night, Disappear, Receptive. Totally Receptive), Music by Bensound & Jason and Cori Fernandez (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) Posters design by Ray Foley.

Bertie Brosnan’s films have been critically acclaimed and selected at international film festivals and markets such as ‘Cork Film Festival’, ‘Fastnet Film Festival’, ‘Kerry Film Festival’, ‘Cannes Short Film Corner’, ‘Hollywood North Film Festival’, and much more. His films received many nominations including winning a Cinematography Award for his last short film: Sineater.

Both his previous short films are currently being distributed worldwide by Shorts TV



Interview – Bertie Brosnan, writer and director of Sineater






Forgotten Paradise:


Last Serive:


Facebook page is here:


Film is supported by Cork City Arts:


Link to Bertie’s and Escape Thru Film’s other works:






Irish Film Review: Jaha’s Promise

DIR: Patrick FarrellyKate O’Callaghan

Jaha Dukureh is one of the millions of women from Gambia who underwent female genital mutilation as a child: in Dukureh’s home village of Gambisara, girls undergo the procedure when they are just a week old. FGM was talked about so little, that it wasn’t until Dukureh attempted sexual intercourse that she realised the extent of her injuries. At just 26 years old, Dukureh’s campaign to ban FGM in Gambia was successful, with the government outlawing the practice in 2015. In Jaha’s Promise, Irish directors Patrick Farrelly and Kate O’Callaghan follow Dukureh from her campaign in the United States – where she now resides – with a petition, all the way to Gambia where her human rights work brought her home to Gambisara to interview her family and the women of her village, including the midwife who removed her labia and clitoris as a baby.

Dukureh’s voice guides us through the majority of the documentary, telling us the story of how her life in both Gambia and the United States has been influenced by patriarchal demands. Dukureh was unusual in getting an education, as girls in her village are married off as early as possible. Men, meanwhile, often have multiple wives. Dukureh’s first arranged marriage – at age fifteen she was shipped off to America to marry a much older man – she argues was “like rape.” Dukureh had many cultural assumptions to deal with when addressing the issue of FGM, something that has been mirrored in her own life: running away from her husband and residing with relatives, she made a new agreement with her father: she would, instead, marry another man, one with whom she had mutual respect. Now living a much happier life with her second husband and their three children, she has brought the same model of cultural negotiation to her human rights activism.

Durukeh’s mission operates at ground level, as she educates women, men and children on the realities of FGM. A common belief which Durukeh is forced to debunk is that FGM is sunnah (“the way of the prophet”), something which many of Gambia’s influential imams claim. We see her returning to her home village where she interviews local women on their views on the procedure. There is, we learn, not necessarily a consensus. While some see FGM see it as a way of curbing female sexuality, others believe women are not able to physically give birth if they are not cut. Some, meanwhile, believe that their lack of basic healthcare makes FGM a necessity. It is fascinating to watch Dukureh as she challenges the norms and regulations of both Gambia and the United States, bringing about social and political change but doing so by shaping perspectives around her, rather than shattering them. At times it can be hard to believe that her polite and deferential manner can hold any sway, but Durukeh’s strategy demonstrates the strength of long-term campaigning and of laying a foundation for a new way of thinking.

Jaha’s Promise is admirable for the way in which it interrogates the issue of FGM, demonstrating the importance of listening to the experiences of the women most affected by it. Perhaps most interesting of all, is how crucial opening up and talking about it is. Many of the women interviewed talk about how little knowledge they had of FGM for so long: and yet, once it stopped being a taboo subject, there was sudden and drastic change. Both the Obama Administration and the Gambian government quickly came onboard once it was clear that there was appetite for safeguarding girls against mutilation. Durukeh is not naive, however, recognising that enforcement of these new laws is the next step in a long road towards eliminating the practice for good.

Unsurprisingly, Jaha’s Promise is at times distressing, particularly listening to the horrific descriptions of female genital mutilation from women who themselves endured the procedure as babies and young girls. However, Jaha’s Promise is such a crucial story that it cannot be ignored. Not only does it serve as a pertinent reminder of the sexual violence and coercion girls and women suffer world-wide, Durukeh’s grass-roots campaign will hopefully be seen as a model for future movements in combating human rights violations.


Sarah Cullen


80 minutes
Jaha’s Promise is released 1st December 2017

Jaha’s Promise – Official Website






Want to Work Abroad? Panel Discussion for Filmmakers


Join Film Ireland & InConversation for a live podcast recording at Filmbase at 2pm on Thursday, 7th December. All welcome. Free admission.

Ever thought about working abroad? Whether that’s the UK, the USA or anywhere else, this will be a practical and detailed discussion about the legalities and logistics involved in moving to another country for the purposes of your career.

Sam Lucas Smith will be joined by Birch Hamilton, executive director the Screen Director’s Guild of Ireland, and Rachel Rath, founder of the Artist Green Card Guide to answer your questions and address various visa issues and options for filmmakers and actors who wish to work in the United States. Though US immigration will be a key aspect, we will also discuss opportunities for entertainment professionals in other countries as well as important points relating to the Irish industry.

Rachel Rath is a US-based Irish actress and the founder of the Artist’s Green Card Guide, which offers information and guidance for actors and filmmakers looking to apply for an O-1 visa or EB-1 category Green Card.

Birch Hamilton is the executive director of the Screen Director’s Guild of Ireland, which represents Irish Screen Directors and serves to promote their work on a national and international scale.

Sam Lucas Smith brings his experience as an Irish actor who has worked between the UK, Ireland and the United States. Sam is currently petitioning for a green card as an “artist of extraordinary ability” and he will be sharing what he has learned throughout the process.

The podcast will be recorded in front of a live audience on the 7th of Dec at Filmbase, Temple Bar.

If you would like to submit a question email

InConversation is a series of personal interviews with people working across the many aspects of the Irish filmmaking industry


Tickets available



Review of Irish Film @ Cork Film Festival: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Sean O’Rourke gets festive for The Man Who Invented Christmas, which screened at the Cork Film Festival.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of the most adapted literary works of all time and, at least in my estimation, any work that engages with Dicken’s novel succeeds or fails largely based on its ability to capture that central feeling of joy the book imparts on its readers. Dickens’ words dance along the page in such a way that, to my knowledge, there’s no better work of fiction for cutting through the most pessimism-coaxing aspects of the holiday to the joy that should be at its centre.

The novel’s joyousness is precisely what The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri, attempts to tap into. The film, almost entirely shot in Dublin, is often beautiful to look at. The costumes, tend towards the outrageous and colorful. Snow routinely falls around color-saturated red brick, illuminated by the yellow glow shining from shop windows. As such, there are frames, and indeed entire scenes, that capture that festive, joyful quality that the film so rightfully takes from Dicken’s work. It is unfortunate then that, through unfocused storytelling and an overabundance of on-the-nose references to the text, the film undermines its ability to achieve its joyful goal.

The film depicts a cash-strapped Dickens (an appropriately energetic Dan Stevens) reeling after a string of literary flops. Dickens proposes what will become A Christmas Carol to his publisher, but is rejected, prompting him to self-publish. Getting a loan to cover its costs, hiring an artist, a printer, and, above all, writing the thing, must be done in a mere six weeks. In the meantime, he is aided by his lovesick friend John Forster (Justin Edwards), tries to mend his marriage with Kate Dickens (Morfydd Clarke), elicits help from a new Irish servant girl (Anna Murphy), struggles with a father (Jonathan Pryce) for whom he feels great animosity and, perhaps most importantly, converses with Mr. Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) in an often interesting interplay between author and his creation who seems more and more to represent something that Dickens must confront within himself.

Herein lies the problem: the film does not find a way to balance and develop these potentially interesting storylines and therefore fails to achieve an adequate emotional payoff for any of them.

These plot lines appear and disappear from the movie seemingly at random. For example, we learn early on that Forster has a fiancé. However, it is only brought up a couple other times in the film, each time causing me to remember that he is, in fact, engaged to be married and that I am supposed to be invested in the success or failure of their relationship. Some of the character dynamics do work well. Dickens’ clashes with his father are a highlight of the film, the actors showing themselves more than capable of carrying this particular plot should the film decide that it is the central thread. Scrooge and Dickens’ relationship, though it only exists in the author’s mind, could have probably sustained the film as well and indeed does attempt to carry much of the emotional weight near the end of the film. However, the emotional weight of these storylines is undercut since their development is crowded and ultimately suffocated amidst the rest of the film.

The film pairs this narrative confusion with other strange decisions on a stylistic level. As above described, the film is stylistic in its approach to its setting which is entirely appropriate to its tone. However, occasionally the camera seems to adopt an almost improvisational mode, with strange zooms and a bobbing, handheld effect which might lend an air of authenticity to the proceedings if gritty and authentic were the aesthetic, which they are not.

Even more distracting are the moments where Dickens finds inspiration for his novel. In certain scenes this works, such as when Dickens sees people dancing in an outdoor market which is eventually transformed into Fezziwig’s Christmas party. However, such intrusions become problematically on-the-nose, exemplified in a single scene where a wealthy man berates Charles with Scrooge’s “are there no prisons” speech nearly word for word, two children are seen in the folds of a large man’s robe, an unattended funeral for a man nobody loves is carried out, and a miserly looking man accosts Charles with the words “humbug,” all of which occurs in a matter of minutes. Such situations persist throughout the film, distracting from its numerous narrative through lines in favor of a game of “spot the reference.” Frustration with the film’s misplaced emphasis soon began to unravel the more joyful aspects of the film.

Such frustration is unfortunate because in certain moments, such as when Dickens walks through his office, silhouetted by the light coming through his windows, contorting himself, body and voice, straining to find the right articulation for Scrooge, the movie comes alive. Unfortunately, in its inability to tie these individual scenes into a compelling narrative, we are left with some well-done, festive, joyful scenes that are overshadowed by a constant string of on-the-nose in-jokes and an overabundance of plotlines with little emotional payoff, stifling the effusive joy the film attempts to unleash.

The film’s heart is in the right place and may, I hope, entice people to read the original novel. However, the problems mentioned above make it difficult to recommend on its own merits.


The Man Who Invented Christmas screened on 10th November 2017 as part of the Cork Film Festival

In Irish cinemas 1st December  



Gerry Gregg, Director of ‘Condemned to Remember’

Tomi Reichental and Condemned to Remember director Gerry Gregg 


June Butler talks to director Gerry Gregg about his film Condemned to Remember in which Irish Holocaust Survivor Tomi Reichental celebrates his 80th birthday in a Dublin Mosque and embarks on an epic journey across a Europe in turmoil.



Condemned to Remember screened at the IFI and is currently screening in Dundrum and will screen at the Cork Film Festival  on Sun 12th at 6.45pm with a post-screening Q&A with Tomi Reichental and Gerry Gregg.

Eclipse Pictures are organising school screenings across the country. Contact for further information.



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