Irish Film New York (IFNY), an organization that screens the best of contemporary Irish cinema, has announced it the line-up for the second annual screening series at New York University’s Cantor Center.
This year’s festival includes two New York premieres: “Pilgrim Hill”, fresh from its acclaim at the Telluride Film Festival; and “Bernadette”, a revealing portrait of one of the most engaging and polarizing political figures in Northern Irish politics, the politician and activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.
“Bernadette is an exceptional film about an exceptional person by one of Ireland’s leading women filmmakers Lelia Doolan,” says Niall McKay, executive director of IFNY.
“But we have something for everyone at this year's festival including a thriller, a romance, a weepy, and an eerie morality tale. We'll also be featuring the New York premiere of Kirsten Sheridan's “Dollhouse” which was a hit at this year’s Berlin and South by Southwest (SXSW) film festivals.”
“Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey” (2011) was made over a period of nine years, is Lelia Doolan’s intimate and searching portrait of politician and activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. Devlin first exploded into the public arena in 1969, where she and her fellow students in the People’s Democracy were described as belonging to “the politics of impatience.”
Described as an Irish Joan of Arc and a “mini-skirted Castro,” she won the mid-Ulster by-election that year—the youngest woman ever elected at Westminster—and served there until 1974. She survived an assassination attempt in 1981 and remains a radical socialist republican.
Rebellious, awkward and contrary, McAliskey has engaged in the cause of civil rights as a feminist, republican and socialist for the past 40 years and currently co-ordinates a publicly funded cross-community grassroots organization in her home in County Tyrone.
This is an opportunity for New York audiences to hear her rhetoric and gripping life story and explore Northern Ireland’s treacherously nuanced politics of the past four decades.
Here’s the TG4 trailer for the documentary:
Newcomer Gerard Barrett, who wrote, produced, edited, and directed his debut film has come home from Telluride this year with one of that festival’s talking points. More than any title in recent years, his film “Pilgrim Hill” sheds light on the dark side of rural Ireland, where middle-aged men and women still live out their lives in isolation, loneliness—and often poverty.
The simplicity of farmer Jimmy Walsh’s story, the uncluttered dialogue and monologues, and long, patient takes in this drama that feels like a documentary, put one in mind of the work of Bela Tarr. In capturing a rural infrastructure that is crumbling along with the cities, as a new wave of emigrants leaves the country, Barrett exposes the rural idyll as the penny-pinching, lonely graft that it most often is.
The other titles in the series include Kirsten Sheridan’s third feature “Dollhouse” (2012), a crowd-stirrer at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, which explores a night in the life of a group of street teens from Dublin’s inner city who break into a house in an upper class suburb. The break-in quickly moves into a night of frenzy, driven by a series of revelations that will leave lasting marks on each of them and resulting in an emotional conclusion that they will carry around for the rest of their lives.
The film’s powerful performances won the film the Best Actor award for the ensemble cast at the Odessa Film Festival earlier this year and a Europa Cinemas special mention at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Dollhouse is also the first feature produced by The Factory, a new low-budget studio headed by Sheridan and “Once's” John Carney.
The dynamic interplay between a disturbed but gifted youth Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and his flawed psychiatrist Dr. King (Andy Serkis) as they seek to navigate a route through his troubled teen years is at the center of Death of a Superhero (2011), directed by Ian FitzGibbon (Perrier’s Bounty; A Film With Me In It). A supremely talented artist, Donald’s cartoon worlds come to life to taunt and torment him and only Dr. King and Shelly (Aisling Loftus), an outsider and soul-mate at school, can help make sense of his world.
Here’s the trailer for “Dollhouse”:
Opening night film, Jump (2012) by Kieron J. Walsh, is told in flashback through the eyes of a young woman Greta (Nichola Burley) who is poised on the edge of a bridge to take her own life. The adrenaline-fuelled hours that lead up to that point, showing the city of Derry at its best and worst, are recounted at breakneck speed with strong performances by a terrific young cast.