Get your glad rags out and your Irish up. It’s the 12th annual Craic Fest this March and this year it will be held almost exclusively at the Tribeca Cinema in downtown Manhattan.
But don’t expect Tribeca prices. The remarkable thing about the Craic Fest is that the emphasis is still actually on having craic -- $20 gets you a film premiere and a three-hour open bar. You read that right.
Jameson and Stella Artois are co-sponsors, so the after parties really will have a swagger in their step. Trust the Irish to know how to throw a real bash. After all, “craic” means a good time.
The three big Irish film premieres at the festival this year are Perrier’s Bounty, written by Mark O’Rowe and starring Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson, which will be screened on Thursday, March 11, the festival’s opening night.
On Friday, March 12 they’ll screen the premiere of Stories From Home, a gripping new documentary narrated by Gabriel Byrne and directed by Pat Collins. Then on Saturday, March 13 there will be a 5 p.m. screening of jump out of your seat screaming shocker The Eclipse, written and directed by Conor McPherson and starring Ciaran Hinds.
At 7 p.m. on Saturday perhaps one of the most anticipated films of the entire festival will unspool, a revealing and surprising documentary on the life and career of the much beloved Irish musician Liam Clancy titled The Yellow Bittern.
A new documentary from Alan Gilsenan, the film is a portrait of the last surviving member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and the man that Bob Dylan called “just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my whole life.” Getting tickets to this one will quickly become a challenge, so be advised to book early.
“On Thursday, the opening night we’re screening Perrier’s Bounty, a black comedy with Cillian Murphy,” festival manager Trish Lyndon tells the Irish Voice. “The main function room at the Tribeca Cinema is this really cool artsy space and so we’ll hold our after party there with Mundy (the Irish singer-songwriter) who’s a regular at the festival and who’ll be performing live.
“Terence Mulligan, the festival owner, decided to spend more money on the entire program this year, which is it’s 12th to date, and so this venue brings it up a notch in terms of visability. It’s a good investment on his part. And we’ve been sponsored by Jameson and Stella Artois, so there’s going to be an open bar for three hours.”
You can attend the after party for just $15 or you can attend the film premiere and the party for just $20. You read that right.
“We’re not going to be asking people to be spending half their pay checks. We’re doing that every night after the film screening, by the way,” Lyndon says.
Last year Murphy showed up for the festival, as did Colin Farrell. Earlier in the year Mulligan attended the Toronto Film Festival, where no less than eight new Irish feature films were screened at the annual Canadian bash. It was an ideal hunting ground to score U.S. premieres of the new Irish films, and Mulligan didn’t disappoint.
“The Craic Fest people threw a little beer and wings pool party for the cast and crew of films like Undine (directed by Neil Jordan and starring Farrell) and Perrier’s Bounty. The plan was to score some Irish premieres for the Craic Fest,” says Lyndon.
“We have good relationships with the industry people and the cast. Neil, Colin and Cillian were in town and our relationships are a bit like family now -- it’s more like getting old friends together rather than business deals.”
That informality is typically Irish and typical of the Craic Fest itself. It’s a professionally run international film and music festival, but it’s Irish too.
You can actually talk to the actors, directors and musicians in the most informal setting you’re ever likely to encounter them in. That’s actually a relief for the stars as much as the public, since the emphasis is then on the work rather than the individuals making it.
In terms of music the Craic Fest is doing something a little different this year too. First they’re having crowd pleaser Mundy come over and do the opening night party, a new an exciting development.
That means they’re not doing the regular music night on Thursday, when the festival kicks off. Instead they’re going full tilt on Friday and Saturday and keeping the entire program (both film and music) in Tribeca.
The music program will be as much fun as ever, and you’ll sometimes have to choose between film screenings and your favorite bands as some of the programming overlaps (be sure to check the calendar at the website to plan ahead).
“There’s a sort of full on punk rock aspect to the music shows this year, which I have to say I’m really looking forward to,” says Lyndon.
The first music series will be held on Friday night from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. at the Mercury Lounge in downtown Manhattan. First up will be the delightfully named The Tossers, who music is as rowdy as their name, followed by Demolition. This crowd will have you dancing in minutes. After that the Mighty Stef will take to the stage for a rousing performance followed by the night’s grand finale act, Hell Fire Club.
On Saturday, March 13 Paddy Casey, the Irish singer songwriter
from Dublin, will return to the Craic Fest. Originally talented spotted at the legendary International Bar in Dublin, his fortunes have only brightened since, and now he’s a festival regular that many music fans cannot resist.
Casey will be followed by Mark Geary, the absurdly handsome Irish singer songwriter who first established himself here playing frequently in venues such as the Sin E Cafe alongside much missed performers like Irish American Jeff Buckley, one of the most distinctive performers of the 1990’s.
Geary will be followed by Duke Special, a singular Irish talent from Belfast. His theatrical style and music hall sensibilities are ideally suited for a New York crowd.
Catch this cross between David Bowie and Jacque Brel before the night’s finale act And So I Watch You From Afar. What’s special about this lot is that they only play instrumentals, but you’ll soon discover that the music is speaking as loudly as words.
Get your tickets to the Craic Fest via Ticketmaster.com or at the official website: www.thecraicfest.com.