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Niall McKay

In Focus - Niall McKay, director and curator of Irish Film New York

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Niall McKay

Background: A Wicklow native now living in Brooklyn, McKay is the director and curator of Irish Film New York (IFNY).

Tell us about Irish Film New York (IFNY)?

“IFNY brings the best in contemporary Irish filmmaking to New York.  In its inaugural edition (September 2011) the organization hosted a three-day, six-film screening series at NYU’s Cantor Film Center attended by over 1,000 people.

“Recently, IFNY hosted a screening of Oscar-winning short films at Lincoln Center attended by President Michael D. Higgins, who also took part in an IFNY panel discussion on cinema in Ireland.

“IFNY aims to foster partnerships between Irish and U.S.-based film institutes, producers and directors, and to hold screenings, panel discussions and filmmaker events that share the best of Irish film with U.S. audiences.”

Do you have an upcoming screening series?

“We will kick off on September 12 and 13 with a program of four Oscar-winning and Oscar nominated short films at Lincoln Center. Then from October 4-7 IFNY will feature a pacy thriller,  Jump, on opening night, a political documentary, Bernadette, on Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, and Oscar-nominated Kirsten Sheridan’s new drama Dollhouse,  as well as a sweet coming of age drama, BabyGirl, made in New York by Irish writer/director Macdara Vallely.”

You won an Emmy for your documentary Sikhs in America. Where did the inspiration come for this?

 “In 2008 my wife Marissa Aroy and I took a trip to Yuba City in California where we encountered a Sikh parade which featured 80,000 Sikhs. It was a wonderful experience. We realized that we knew nothing about the Sikhs, so we traveled up California's highway 99 in the Central Valley interviewing various Sikh families about their culture, religion and their life since they had come to America.”

What has been your most memorable project?

“I made a film in 2009 called The Bass Player about my father who is a jazz bassist. He brought my brother and I up on his own in Dublin in the seventies and eighties. He moved to Switzerland and married my stepmother but she died of breast cancer in 2003. So I went to Zurich to make a film about him as we packed up his stuff and drove back to Dublin. 

“Many things happened in the following year. I got engaged and then married and my father had a stroke and everything ended up in the film. The result was a beautiful film which I am very proud of.

"The Bass Player opened at the Dublin International Film Festival, was screened on RTÉ and was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Academy Award.” 

Where is there more information on your screenings?

“Please go to www.irishfilmnyc.com.”

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