This year’s edition of the IRISH FILM FESTA, the eleventh, presents a number of novelties. To begin with, an extra day, to provide our programme with greater scope, our proposals with greater variety. This extended calendar also allows us to make an appointment with an audience not only of enthusiasts but, above all, of specialists invited to the Making Shorts panel, which focuses on shorts, an area where Ireland excels, which Italy practically ignores: this occasion – in conjunction with the shorts competition – aims at promoting the appraisal of good practices, the exchange of ideas and information.
Another attractive novelty this year is the creation of an official branch of the festival devoted to literature – #IFFbooks – with two films based on or featuring Irish writers: the medium-length animation film An Béal Bocht (The Poor Mouth), from the book by Flann O’Brien; and the documentary, My Astonishing Self, regarding George Bernard Shaw (presented by Gabriel Byrne!). The programme also features a meeting with the young and already firmly established novelist, Paul Lynch, who will tell the public of his passage from cinema criticism, yesterday, to narrative, today.
As regards the shorts competing, the level has never been higher and never have so many works come from Northern Ireland as this year. This is a source of great satisfaction for a festival like ours, characterised, from the very onset, by the idea of an artistically undivided Ireland, the notion which inspires the cover of this year’s catalogue.
Meanwhile, Irish cinema continues to grow and amaze. The films selected for this edition all present potent themes, different genres and extremely personal styles. Handsome Devil and Kissing Candice tell tales of youth, the former in comedic tones, the latter touching on thriller-like atmospheres.
Rocky Ros Muc and Song of Granite both feature characters born in Connemara and forced to emigrate. The first is a documentary about the boxer, Sean Mannion, the second an artistic anti-biopic based on the life of the Irish traditional virtuoso singer, Joe Heaney.
If Maze combines imagination and accuracy to recreate the epic escape in the 1980’s of 38 IRA detainees from the Northern Irish prison of the same name, the protagonists of No Party for Billy Burns and The Breadwinner (a new gem of animation crafted by Cartoon Saloon) discard the harsh invasiveness of reality by recurring to the invincible power of fantasy.
Last, we are pleased to dedicate this year’s Irish Classic to Gabriel Byrne, as a tribute to his recent IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award. From the long list of his films we have chosen Into The West (1992), a film full of magic realism where we can watch him once more in the role of Papa Reilly, a widower and King of a group of Irish Travellers, who abandons the roads to settle down only to become an alcoholic, because he cannot stand the pain of loss. One of the best performances by this cultured and reserved actor, who was sincerely moved when they handed him his IFTA Award.
Our compliments and best wishes to Gabriel Byrne, an Actor and a Gentleman.
Ár gceol thú is comhghairdeas, a Ghabriel Uí Bhroinn, a Aisteoir agus a Dhuine- Uasail.
— Susanna Pellis
IRISH FILM FESTA 2018 LINE-UP
• Handsome Devil, John Butler
• Kissing Candice, Aoife McArdle
• Maze, Stephen Burke
• My Astonishing Self: Gabriel Byrne on George Bernard Shaw, Gerry Hoban
• No Party for Billy Burns, Padraig Conaty
• Rocky Ros Muc, Michael Fanning
• Song of Granite, Pat Collins
• The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey
• Irish Classic, Tribute to Gabriel Byrne: Into the West, Mike Newell