When the Craic LGBT fest (CGLFF) hits town at the Irish Arts Center new queer cinema and anti-gay bullying and the work that still remains to be done to counter it will be foremost on many festival goers minds.

You thought the marriage referendum in 2015 was the last word on gay equality in Ireland, right?

Wrong unfortunately, there is still so much work to be done to make Ireland the equal nation promised to all in the Proclamation.

Take our secondary schools for example. Even today in these unarguably more enlightened times the law of the jungle still applies to most of them and far too many kids who don't fit the mold can still find themselves being cruelly targeted by homophobic bullies.

When seventh annual Craic LGBT fest (CGLFF) hits town on Thursday, May 10 at the Irish Arts Center anti-gay bullying and the work that still remains to be done to counter it will be foremost on many festival goers minds.

As Festival producer Terence Mulligan tells the IrishCentral, “We are delighted to be working with the Irish Arts Center once again and this year our special guest will be filmmaker Graham Cantwell. His brilliantly directed award-winning short film Lily asks some hard questions about our attitudes and it will screen on the night with a question and answer session immediately after.”

In Lily, named after the teenage girl the film follows (played by the gifted Clara Harte) her decision to come out to a friend has predictably dramatic results. In Irish secondary schools coming out is still considered massive local news and so its all over the place within 24 hours.

Before she knows what's hit her Lily is literally being hit, this time by three homophobic schoolgirls from her own yar who take it upon themselves to show her the limitations of Irish tolerance. They lay into her in a moment of shocking violence that leaves her black eyed and traumatized. It's tough to watch because needless violence always is.

What Lily gets brilliantly right then is how unprepared the school authorities (and even Lily's own parents) are to cope with shockingly homophobic abuse or to even seriously address what is happening. They all rationalize the attack, failing to take any comprehensive action, leaving Lily feeling even less protected than before. Then the film makes the all too sobering point that if we can't protect the most vulnerable among us, who can we protect?

It's a good question and it's far from answered onscreen or in Irish life. Stick around for the discussion with the film's director to gain some insights into the current state of LGBT equality in Ireland, and then stay for a meditation on the current state of Queer Irish Cinema in 2018.

Another award-winning short being screened on the night is 3 Friends by director Michael Moody Culpepper, based on a Colm Toibin short story. It follows Fergus, a pensive young Irishman who is propelled on a powerful journey of discovery that begins at his mother’s wake and funeral, where he begins to confront the way his family has shaped and defined him. Later he continue this inward an outward journey at a beach rave where he becomes aware of the defining impact his friendships have on his life.

In A Change In The Weather actor and director Muiris Crowley tackles a rarely addressed theme, the closeted lives of so many young rural Irishmen, following what happens when that furtiveness is unexpectedly challenged. It's a story that we don't see enough of, considering how many lives it affects, so expect it to prompt a lot of debate on the night.

New York based filmmaker Peter McNamara will also screen his utterly absorbing new film Naracan. Starring the gifted young Irish actor Peter Halpin, he plays an Irish paramedic working in New York who struggles to make ends meet, manage his fractured home life and not sink under the weight of the death and depravity he encounters every day on the New York City streets.

CGLFF is presented in conjunction with the Irish Arts Center and in association with Stella Artois and Boru Vodka (expect drinks specials). The event is also co-sponsored by Con Edison.

Films Start 7 P.M. at the Irish Arts Center. There will be a post screening reception at 9 P.M. The event is funded by the Cultural Immigrant Initiative and City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Daniel Dromm.

You must RSVP to attend. Visit the Irish Arts Center website for more information at irishartscenter.org or by visiting thecraicfest.com

A still from the short Irish film Lily.Lily, directed by Graham Cantwell