Julie Feeney at the Mercury Lounge among the great listings as part of this March's Craic Fest.Irish Voice

The Craic Fest, the top Irish film festival in New York, will unveil its 17th annual festival of film and music (and craic!) on Thursday March 5 through the 7th at the Tribeca Cinemas and at the Mercury Lounge.

This year the festival will open with a particularly high profile event, courtesy of From Tee to Green, The Story Of Irish Golf, a new documentary film about the history of golf in Ireland.

Directed by Andrew Gallimore and narrated by actor Aidan Quinn, the film makes use of never before seen archive footage to tell the story of how golf reached Ireland, also examining Ireland’s booming golfing tourism and its importance to the economy, and exploring the ways the Irish landscape makes it such a memorable location for the sport.

Irish professional golfers give their own takes, including luminaries like Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington. The film also ponders why more Irish golfers have won major tournaments in the past seven years than any other country outside of the U.S.

“I think anyone who is into golf and Irish golf in particular will really rally around this film,” festival director Terence Mulligan tells the Irish Voice.

“I’m expecting a big turn out for this. I’m actually anticipating running two screens on the day because I know there’s a lot of regular Craic Fest attendees who love sport and will be anxious to catch this one.”

Each year the Craic Fest also hosts a music festival to complement the films. This year they have roped in some banner names for a show-stopping night at the Mercury Lounge – both Julie Feeney and Pat McGuire, both with new albums to promote, alongside special musical guests are scheduled to perform.

Also slated for the night are Colin Smith (of Mr. North fame) with his new band the Shackles and the concert openers the Narrowbacks.

On closing night, the festival will host a groundbreaking retrospective of the animation of Ireland’s celebrated Brown Bag Films.

“I’m delighted to see that Irish animation companies are becoming regularly Oscar nominated,” says Mulligan.

“In fact there’s a lot of film companies and production companies and distributors in LA and New York that would agree that the strongest product out of Ireland film-wise in recent years is the animation.”

To underline this point the Craic Fest has curated a series of recent outstanding efforts by Brown Bag Films, and will also bring over a few of the filmmakers to discuss them.

“We're setting up a retrospective and we’ll talk about the making of the films right after we screen them. People can learn about how the storyline is crafted, and the creative process, even how the soundtrack is tied in. It’s going to be pretty informative and we expect a lot of the NYU Film School students to be particularly interested in attending,” says Mulligan.

Once again this year Ireland is competing with Disney and Pixar at the Oscars. That’s an incredible development, and something the Craic Fest wants to highlight this year.

“It's something that hasn’t happened in New York before. The retrospective will show that Brown Bag are not only one of the premier animation companies in Ireland but in Europe,” Mulligan says.

“They’ve really had their finger on the pulse since the very beginning. That's why two of their recent films were nominated for Oscars. Both Give Up Yer Old Sins and Granny O’Grimm wowed critics and audiences alike and we want to highlight why.”

As always, Stella Artois is a participating sponsor so your tickets to Tee To Green include the screening and an invitation to the after party and a Stella Artois open bar.

As in recent years there will also be a Kids Fleadh running alongside the film and music festival on March 7. It will be in three parts, with a screening of Irish short films, then a storytelling session and finally a stepdancing session with the well-known Niall O’Leary troupe. There will also be free goodie bags for the kids and, like all good Irish events, the delicious free tea and scones will make a fun day an unforgettable one.

For tickets and schedules to this year’s Craic Fest visit www.thecraicfest.com.