Each summer the Craic Fest, the long running festival of the best of Irish films and music in Manhattan, hosts a popular Irish Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in partnership with the Irish Arts Center, and this will be its sixth successful year of operation.
This year's CGLFF is scheduled for Saturday, May 21 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Irish Arts Center. It will be held in conjunction with the Gaze LGBT Film Festival from Dublin.
The special filmmaker guest this year is the award winning Dublin-based director Barry Dignam, director of Dream Kitchen and Chicken. He will participate in an audience discussion and two of his short films will be screened on the night.
Dignam studied drama at Trinity College and film at the National Film School of Ireland, and his films have been presented in official selection at over 150 international film festivals where they have won numerous awards, including nominations for a Palme d'Or at Cannes and a Berlin Bear.
Last year Dignam and playwright Gary Duggan worked together on the screenplay of Duggan's hit play Monged about Dublin's drugs and dance music underworld. The film premiered at the 2015 Galway Film Fleadh.
On May 21, almost a year to the day after the historic Irish marriage referendum, Dignam will participate in a lively discussion about the challenges and triumphs of 100 years of queer Ireland.
Dignam and his longtime partner Hugh Walsh were one of the first Irish couples to enter into civil partnership in Ireland and the first to do so after the mandatory (at the time) three month wait.
By 2011 the pair had waited 17 years to formalize their commitment to each other in the eyes of the state. “When we met it was actually illegal to be gay in Ireland,” Dignam told the press at the time of his civil partnership.
By 2016, the centenary of the Easter Rising, they and every other gay couple in the country can now legally tie the knot in the eyes of the law (churches are of course still another matter).
The panel will discuss the epic journey that Irish LGBT citizens have made from criminality, invisibility and oppression to full equality, reflecting on many of the lessons learned and the path ahead.
Terence Mulligan festival producer told the Irish Voice, “We are delighted to be working with the Irish Arts Center and excited that Barry Dignam can attend as well!”
On the night audiences will have the rare chance to catch Dignam's terrific first movie Dream Kitchen, filmed and also set in Dublin. It follows a callow teenager as he fantasizes about how he'll come out to his less than supportive parents.
The gap between alluring day dreams and cold hard reality is one that will be familiar to any Irish gay person, and Dignam knows how to make a point and get a laugh at the same time.
In Chicken, another gay themed short by the Dublin-based director, we meet Mick and Kev, two recognizably bored Irish teens who, for a test of courage, play a knife game which involves stabbing a knife between their outstretched fingers at an ever-faster rate (teens are known for their great wisdom, lets face it).
In a magnanimous gesture of support Mick puts his hand over Kev's in order to shield his hand from the worst of an injury if it should it occur, and wouldn't you know it, sparks begin to fly.
The CGLFF is part of the year-long Irish heritage celebration in New York, supported by the Cultural Immigrant Initiative and the Irish Caucus (City Council of New York).
The night kicks off with a pre-reception at 6 p.m. presented by Stella Artois and Boru Vodka. The films run from 7:30-9 p.m. The after screening reception is from 9-10:30 p.m. The film program will be a combination of short documentaries and live action comedy shorts.