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A feast of Irish cinematic talent in London

Moe Dunford and Peter Coonan in Dark Lies the Island

By David Hennessy  

Irish Film Festival London is back, for its ninth year.  

The five day programme celebration of Irish film includes serious drama, comedies, and thought-provoking documentaries, from emerging talent to veteran stars.  

There will also be a chance to meet directors and cast at Q&As, discussions and workshops.  

Festival director Kelly O’Connor told The Irish World“I’m continually amazed by the spectrum of talent on offer to us each year. What’s apparent this year is that there are more feature comedies than the average year. We’re screening A Bump along the WayDark Lies the Island and Extra Ordinary, which include some of the finest comedy writing I’ve come across in years. Each has its own very unique flavour, but you just can’t miss the influence of some fine Irish wit in each of them.” 

Established in 2011, the festival has grown into one of the largest festivals of its kind and its patrons include Hollywood star Colin Farrell, Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson, Dublin Murders actor Moe Dunford and legendary casting agent Ros Hubbard. 

Kelly continues: “It’s been an incredible journey, from our humble beginnings, to becoming the world’s biggest international Irish Film Festival. It was a steep learning curve. 

“Next year marks the tenth anniversary of the festival so we have some big plans for our celebrations. I’d welcome anyone who is interested in what we do to get down to the festival this year to hear more about Irish Film Festival London 2020, and what delights they can expect. 

“We also have two new, very exciting patrons to announce, so watch this space.” 

Heyday: The Mic Christopher Story

The festival opens with the UK premiere of Heyday, The Mic Christopher Story. Oscarwinner Glen Hansard, writer/actor Sharon Horgan, Mike Scott of The Waterboys and Bronagh Gallagher, are among the many who pay tribute to the uniquely talented songwriter-singer who died just as he was on the brink of a potentially brilliant career.  

It’s followed by the UK premiere of Dark Lies The Island, from the mind of award-winning novelist Kevin Barry, which stars Pat Shortt, Peter Coonan, Charlie Murphy, Tommy Tiernan and Moe Dunford, who will be attending.  

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The film sees two brothers trying to crawl out from the shadow of their domineering father while his young wife is trapped in a whirlpool of sexual jealousy.  

For the UK premiere of Bruno, which tackles themes of homelessness and mental health, the festival has partnered, appropriately enough, with New Horizons Youth Centre, which provides unique wide-ranging support for some of London’s homeless and vulnerable young people. 

The festival includes the London premiere of a comedy, A Bump Along The Way, starring Bronagh Gallagher. The comedy horror fantasy Extra Ordinary stars Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward and Will Forte. 

The festival will close with documentary Cumar, A Galway Rhapsody, a bilingual artistic exploration of Galway, which features the area’s adopted son, comedian Tommy Tiernan.  

Irish Film London’s aims to support Irish filmmakers from early in their careers and the programme also includes eighteen short films, some from emergent filmmakers. 

TV presenter Laura Whitmore, who has chaired past festival Q&As, makes her own screenwriting debut this year with her short film, Sadhbh. 

London Irish writer, comedian and actress Roisin Conaty (whose own successful C4 comedy GameFace was sold to Hulu in the US) will chat about growing up Irish in Camden. 

Kelly (centre) with Moe Dunford, director Lance Daly, Jim Broadbent and James Frecheville at the premiere of Black ’47.

Kelly adds: “Irish Film London is ultimately here to build a creative community and a platform for Irish film in the UK. We aim to create opportunities for Irish filmmakers, and also to treat and delight UK audiences to the very finest of Irish arts and culture. So, it’s incredibly encouraging to welcome many of our favourite filmmakers, film fans and arts addicts back again and again, and to watch that community grow organically.  

“On a personal level, it’s become an absolute treat to get to know some of our returning audiences, who are from such varied backgrounds. We get Irish people of all generations, of course, but also people from all over the world, or with mixed heritage, who find Ireland’s progressive voice a welcome friend, particularly in these uncertain times.” 

Irish Film Festival London is on next month 20-24 November at Regent Street Cinema after a launch at the Embassy of Ireland on 12 November. Tickets for all films can be bought at the website, https://www.irishfilmfestivallondon.com/ 

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