A mighty wee craic - the Irish film fest / rock concert the Craic Festival is in its 13th year
Terrence Mulligan gears up for 13th annual Craic Festival in NYC
“At this time of the year, which we call half way to St. Patrick’s Day, there’s usually less of a focus on Irish film and music, so that’s why we have decided to throw a spotlight on the Irish filmmakers at this time of the year. It’s opportune and we get headlines.”
Since the beginning, the Craic Fest has had an impressively inclusive outreach that sets the standard for its imitators. In recent years the festival has set up a successful Irish gay and lesbian film performance series that has ensured that every aspect of the Irish experience is seen, screened and heard.
Throwing out the welcome mat to all of the Irish, and then throwing a huge rock and roll party to bring them together in friendship and mutual appreciation of their heritage, is a mighty vision never before attempted that has actually worked, year after year. So perhaps the time has come to pay Mulligan his due for over a decade of exemplary service to Irish culture and community, but he’d be the last person to think he deserved it.
“What I love about the Craic Fest is that we can show our films to audiences who get them better than any other,” he says, explaining why he does it.
“We have the luxury to screen them to the proper audience and make the most of it for the new Irish filmmakers coming to New York.”
So what can you expect to see this year? Well, each of the new films are award-winning shorts hand picked from this year’s Galway Film Festival.
One, titled Pet Hate, is an animated short that tells the tale of an exhausted pet shop owner doing battle with his very badly behaved merchandise. Another award winner is titled Thin Ice, which follows what happens when a baby penguin finds itself in trouble after curiously wandering away from the group.
And crowds will line up for tickets to Brown Bag Film’s new film Bird Food (whose hilarious and moving animated short Give Up Yer Aul Sins was one of the highlights of the last decade) about a man who plans to eat his lunch in the park, although the local pigeons have other ideas.
After the short films the music starts, which depending on your take is the wind down after party or the main event.
This year the Dublin-based the Mighty Stef, an experimental rock and roll band, do the honors. Currently working on material for a redefining fourth studio album, they’re hugely popular with the Irish community already and a guaranteed sell out.
“This time we’re going back to our roots to keep the feeling of the event more intimate,” Mulligan says. “In recent years we’ve held events at huge venues and they were well attended but we enjoy the intimacy of smaller settings.
“Mighty Stef has played for us twice before and each time it resulted in sell out crowds and a great night out. I would expect they’ll sell out in advance, but if late comers show up they should aim for a 9:30 start.”
Arlene’s Grocery, the site for the screenings, has been a hipster hangout since 1996. Once upon a time it was a Puerto Rican bodega, which you can tell from the original awning, but it has long since become a performance space for theater, film and rock.
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