Irish film has undergone a renaissance over the last decade, with new directors and world-class production facilities popping up north and south. Add to that mix wider government funding, new scripts that are more representative of life in modern Ireland and a stable of new and emerging talent achieving major star wattage globally, and you can say that Ireland’s moment in the sun has arrived.
That’s why a new contemporary Irish screening series coming to NYU’s Cantor Film Center on Friday, September 30 is so timely. Called Irish Film New York (IFNY) the six-film festival opens with the New York premiere of the remarkably absorbing documentary Knuckle, which takes a you-are-there cinema verite look the violent world of bare-knuckle boxing among Ireland’s Traveler community.
Watch the trailers below
Already the film has attracted major attention, and so the news that HBO is adapting the documentary into a new drama series is welcome indeed.
The festival will continue with the Galway Film Festival award-winning feature Parked, a keenly observed story of friendship, hope, and perseverance between two down but not quite out ‘neighbors’ living in their cars at the end of a pier (and at the end of their ropes, frankly).
Colm Meaney gives a lovely nuanced performance as a soul who’s reached the end of the line and may be thinking of a way out. But love and friendship have a way of restoring you to yourself and Parked, far from being just another tale of urban alienation with Irish accents, instead emerges as a tender and life-affirming meditation on the transformative power of love.
Also new to New York audiences is The Runway, a breathless boys adventure yarn that’s based on a real life story of a South American plane that crashed in a Cork town, delighting the locals. There’s more than a bit of corn involved, but it’s of the home grown variety and the tale never flags.
As the town comes together to send the pilot home, Weeds star Demian Bichir gives a terrific performance as the South American pilot befuddled by the Irish and their mysterious ways. A huge hit with younger audiences who are captivated by the flights of imagination the film is filled with, The Runway is worth your time as a diverting afternoon’s entertainment.
The first ever Irish Film New York festival is partnering with the San Francisco Irish Film Festival and the Los Angles Irish Film Festival this year to bring these selections to the public in anticipation of each film’s U.S. release later this year.
“We created Irish Film New York to connect New York’s film audiences with the best films and filmmakers coming out Ireland today,” INFY founder Niall McKay told the Irish Voice.
Established through longstanding partnerships with New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House, Culture Ireland, the Irish Film Board and the Irish Film Institute, IFNY will feature six feature-length films, a series of shorts including Academy Award-nominees, a question and answer panel with the filmmakers, and receptions and industry events to promote the films.
“IFNY’s aim is simple, to show the best in contemporary Irish cinema to audiences in NYU and New York generally,” McKay adds.
Other film screenings at the festival will include director Marian Quinn’s 32A. Sister of the famous Irish American actor Aidan Quinn (who also stars in the film) 32A tells a gentle girls coming of age in Ireland story that has been a huge hit with festival audiences for its humor and teenage authenticity.
Quinn’s title slyly references both a famous Dublin bus line and bra sizes in a way that knowingly recreates a young Irish girls world. Shot principally in Ireland’s capital city, the film won best first feature at the Galway Film Festival.
Meanwhile Maya Derrington’s Pajama Girls explores the made-in-Dublin Irish fashion trend of girls wearing their pajamas in public. The film traces teenage life in the inner city against the backdrop of Dublin’s famous council flats in a smart and beautifully observed mini-drama.
Doc and Tom Hall’s Sensation stars up and coming young star (and son of celebrated Irish screen star Brendan Gleeson) Domhnall Gleeson in a tale of rural lust, prostitution and erotic obsession -- now that’s a step away from Darby O’Gill and the Little People, isn’t it?
Irish short documentaries, animations and live action will also round out the program, with films including Ken Wardrop’s moving and deeply personal Undressing My Mother, Ross Whitaker’s Bye Bye Now and the Academy Award nominated short The Crush.
The screening series takes place in NYU’s Cantor Film Center. Tickets cost $12-$10, available here.