By Ed Forry
An Academy Award-winning short film made in Northern Ireland, a new feature film made in County Tip starring American favorite Martin Sheen and supporting actor Stephen Rea, and a documentary about Barack Obama’s Irish cousins and his mother’s roots in Moneygall, Co. Offaly, are among the lead attractions at this month’s annual Irish Film Festival, Boston.
An array of thirty Irish feature films, shorts, and documentaries will be screened over four days (March 22-25) under the banner of the festival, which return for its 13th year at two venues: opening night, March 22, at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square, and for three days at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square over the weekend of March 23-25.
The opening night features Thaddeus O'Sullivan's “Stella Days,” selected as this years Directors Choice award recipient. The film features Sheen as a “misfit parish priest” in a small rural town in Tipperary in the mid-1950s. Also starring is Rea, best remembered for his Oscar-nominated role in “The Crying Game.” Promoters of the festival say they expect that Rea will be in attendance on opening night,
Following the Thursday events, the venue moves to Somerville, and there’s great anticipation over the first Boston screening that night of the Academy Award-winning short film “The Shore.” Viewers of last month’s Oscars telecast will recall the emotional moments when writer/producer Terry George and his daughter, co-producer Oorlagh George, came to the stage to receive the Oscar for best love action short film.
Filmed on location in Killough, Northern Ireland, the movie was underwritten by funding from Northern Ireland Screen, a private agency funded by Invest Northern Ireland.
“Our little film was inspired by the people of Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, who, after 30 years of war, sat down, negotiated a peace, and proved to the world that the Irish are great talkers. I want to dedicate this to them,” Terry George said as he accepted the award. “This is about reconciliation in Northern Ireland. It is really close to my heart.” George had been nominated previously for two Academy Awards for his screenplay work in “Hotel Rwanda” and “In the Name of the Father.”
Among other films to be shown at the festival are: the black comedy “Behold the Lamb from Northern Ireland,” with director John McIIduff and actress Aoife Duffin in attendance for their US Premiere; documentaries and Irish Film and Television Academy awardee “Bernedette: Notes on a Political Journey”; “Ballymum Lullaby,” with director Frank Berry in attendance.
President Obama’s Irish cousin, Henry Healy, is expected to attend the screening of his film, “The Road to Moneygall,” detailing how Healy found out he was a distant cousin of the US president, and chronicling Obama’s visit to Offaly last spring.
On Sunday, films include "Dreaming of the Quiet Man," a piece that acknowledges the 60th anniversary of "The Quiet Man," by exploring director John Ford's struggle to highlight his homage to Ireland, his parents' place of birth. Written and directed by Sé Merry Doyle, the film features contributions from commentators and film makers including Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Jim Sheridan, and, exclusively, Maureen O' Hara. Also on Sunday, an encore of “The Quiet Man,” which is rarely seen on the big screen will be shown.
"There's nothing 'unlucky' about this, our 13th annual Festival," Dawn Morrissey, festival co-director, said in a news release. “Momentum is building around the strength of our line-up and it is an honor to be the first port-of-call when it comes to premiering Irish film in America. It gets bigger and better each year, and we are committed to continuing to establish Irish film as a cutting edge entity here in the US.”
Tickets to each screening are $10. All receptions are free. A special All Access Festival Pass (allowing you into all screenings and receptions) is available for $75. At press time, the full details of screening times was incomplete. For a complete schedule of screenings, and to purchase tickets, go online to irishfilmfestival.com.