The 26th Galway Film Fleadh: Day 5

boogaloo_and_grahanW.C. Field one said “never work with animals or children” because you will be totally upstaged and that is certainly the case in BOOGALOO and GRAHAM directed by Michael Lennox. When two young brothers, in 1970s Belfast, are denied a puppy due to space and family finances, they get pet chickens. Totally delightful from every angle! Also stealing screens, in Ruaidhi Conroy’s JUSTLIKEABITCH, is Diana the beloved dog of a homeless man who’s life is turned upside when she mysteriously disappears one morning. Sad, funny and filled with more than a few surprises and a couple more dogs.
a_city_dreamingA CITY DREAMING, directed by Mark McCauley, is a stunning tribute to Derry, a city that once housed thriving industry, multiple rail yards and a bustling harbor, but during the last half century has suffered steady decline with the lost of lives and trade punctuated by sectarian violence and mass immigration. However, Derry never lost its spirit and with a beautiful and fascinating script written by Gerry Anderson, a BBC Radio Ulster personality who grew up in Derry and also narrates the film, the documentary unravels like an epic poem to a city that may have stumbled but never fell.
patrick's_dayNormally films about mental illness don’t play in prime time, but Terry McMahon’s PATRICK’S DAY not only played in prime time but received a standing ovation as the credits rolled. An amazing movie starring Moe Dunford as Patrick a young man with schizophrenia who falls in love with a flight attendant he meets on one of his rare visits to the city with his over protective mother. What then unfolds is a story of family, trust, intimacy and sanity as Patrick tries to balance what he’s told from what he feels. An extraordinary film that makes an honest attempt to present a very complex issue.
Next up Day 6…

15th Chicago Irish Film Festival Award Winners…


 STORY BUD? Jenny Keogh




3rd PLACE WASTED  Kathy Brady







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This year’s Consulate of Ireland Award winner STORY BUD? directed by Jenny Keogh is a delightful and informative lesson in Irish slang sure to be used in classrooms for years to come. When presenting the award Aidan Cronin, The Consul General of Chicago, noted that although the slang was spot on for many living in Ireland the filmmaker should consider a new production based solely on slang words with Cork heritage for which presumably she would also win the award again as the consul general is from Cork! We see a visual dictionary in the works and there are a number of regions in the US that could use a slang primer with the Windy City kicking off with “da Bears” and “da Mare!

Beautifully directed by Shimmy Marcus  with an amazing performance by Lucy Sky Dunne HANNAH COHEN’S HOLY COMMUNION  was the run away winner for the Audience Award. The heart warming story of a young girl who wants to “have the best day ever” just like her friend and the lesson she learns about friends, family and faith.

This year’s Festival Award winners closely resembled  the popular vote with THE MISSING SCARF directed by Eoin Duffy chosen for its achievements not only in animation but a script that seamlessly melded eye popping colors and graphics with droll observations on human frailties and the fate of the universe.

There are so many reasons to applaud this year’s award recipients for their talents in cinematography, writing and editing, but most importantly for the over all quality of their films. For 15 years we have been amazed by short film in all its variations from the 30 second blink and you miss it “Short Shorts” producing quick laughs and gasps to the mini novels of 30 minute shorts that often tell powerful stories of struggle, endurance and triumph. This year’s collection of short films was all that and more proving that the desire to make films is as strong and diverse as the audiences’ passion for seeing these films. We truly wish we could give an award to all the filmmakers whose films were presented in this year’s program, they certainly deserve it. Congratulations to all and thank you.

Mere Thanks…..


We could never fully express our gratitude to our sponsors, but THANK YOU! Your support of the festival allows us to reach for the stars and put them on the screen. Thank you to Tullamore Dew, The University of Chicago Office of Alumni Relations, Brooklyn Brewery, 3 Sheeps Beer and Under the Milky Way and to our many individual supporters that have helped in so many ways for 15 years….. Go raibh maith agat

New Irish Cinema from iTunes in the U.S. and Canada…

Looking to see more Irish films after the festival? Discover a slice of new Irish cinema through a special selection brought to you on iTunes by UNDER THE MILKY WAY  to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2014. Starting March 10th, the following four films will be presented in a dedicated St. Patrick’s section of the iTunes store.









GOOD VIBRATIONS: Enjoy the musical spirit of this BAFTA nominated biopic and dive into the worn-torn 1970″s Belfast. “Richard Dormer’s performance is a transcendent, anarchic, amazing joy. If you love music, movies or being alive, you’ll love Good Vibrations” Bono (U2)

BLACK ICE: Set in the world of clandestine road racing in rural Donegal, this action film follows Jimmy Devlin, played by Love/Hate’s Killian Scott, who dreams of breaking into the legitimate rally driving scene. “A well -shot, thought provoking drama featuring excellent performances.” RTE Guide

THE HARDY BUCKS MOVIE: A bunch of lovable slackers leave the confines of small-town Irish life and head across Europe in support of the Irish football team. Things take an unexpected turn after an unscheduled stop-off in Amsterdam. “The Irish Hangover…laugh-out-loud funny.” The Irish Daily Mail

KING OF THE TRAVELERS: John Paul Moorehouse is on a destructive quest to uncover the truth about his father’s killer. His desire for revenge is swayed when he falls for Winnie Power, the daughter of the man he suspects killed his father. “Genuinely engrossing action…A Gaelic Godfather.” Variety



Shorts Start…In the begining


IMG_0900 The short’s program began last night with a proper kick off at City Hall and greetings from the Lord Mayor of Cork, the festival chairman, Denis McSweeney and James Mullighan the new festival director.   The event really served to highlight just how important a place shorts have at the festival not the least being sold out screenings and great networking opportunities for filmmakers and producers especially with one of the festival’s new sponsors, Vimeo, with one of their reps serving on the Grand Prix Irish jury. On a minor note, the festival is also a platform for winning shorts to screen in the EU and then Academy Award submissions. All eight of the short Irish films that have been short listed, nominated or ultimately won (Martin McDonagh’s Six Shooter(2004) and Terry George’s The Shore(20012) all screened in Cork, so the bar has been set quite high and its no surprise the first group to screen did not disappoint.

handsome shadowsThe first program was Cork Shorts, all the films were produced in Cork, that have had a remarkable evolution since their inclusion into the festival about more than a decade ago. Without casting aspersions on past entries this year’s entries are really remarkable on every level from production values, to story line and acting. There were thirteen presented and few of our favorites were from filmmakers that have screened in Chicago in the past and as is always the case some new discoveries. On the heals of the brilliantly animated Daitha Agus Golaith (David and Goliath)  by animator, Gerald O’Brien which screened at last year’s fest comes, The Scumbagnetic Effect, a wickedly funny animated film that “looks at the nature of bad behavior in Irish society” from the ASBO to bankers; looking forward to O’Brien’s take in obsessive social media users. Relationships have been the core of Mark Cogan’s series of three friends that started with Heart and Partly Cloudy and ends with The Handsome Shadows which was filled with pathos and a subtle reminder that we can’t control things happening, but with good friends we get by and move on.

Cork Film Fest 2013

IMG_0885The sun was blazing down on the River Lee as we drove into Cork City yesterday afternoon and it seemed to be the perfect omen to kick off our annual visit to one of Ireland’s most cultural cities and the 58th Cork Film Festival. First stop was the guest offices where we caught up with old friends, most especially Dawn McAllister and Ruby Moore who always treat us like American royalty, and got the inside scoop on festival and industry happenings we didn’t already have on our agenda. After posing for a jet lag picture to post on the “look who’s in Cork” wall we turned and there was the new festival director James Mullighan who was absolutely charming and most welcoming.

Dark TouchNot wanting to miss a single Irish film we have a quick dinner and then headed to The Pavilion for a screening of Luno Valleti’s The Invention of Failure…both the film and the space were quite interesting, the film a huge montage of vintage clips showcasing mankind’s missteps accompanied by live music and the space an old movie house broken into a bar and a dance club, strobe lights and all…we were warned. Then it was off to a midnight screening at Triskel Christchurch for a midnight screening of Marina DeVan’s Dark Touch a film that brings to mind Carrie and Firestarter featuring some brilliant special affects and acting by its young stars with absolutely no shortage of blood curdling screams and curdling blood. A good first day and no shortage of nightmare producing images…thank goodness for jet lag.

Colin DowneyThis morning we were in our seats for the 10 am screening of Colin Downey’s The Shadows, a small budget, but well executed, revamping of an old Scottish fairy tale by George Macdonald about a witched queen and the shadow people that help keep her evil designs in check over the centuries. Although the film may not have the rapid action and techno wizardry of most of today’s children’s films it was still really enjoyable and well received by the 100+ Jr. high students we viewed it with. Their Q&A after the screening with the director certainly proved that it held their attention and they were very interested in learning about “green screen” filming and the make-up used to create some of the characters.

The day is ending on high note with the first of eight shorts programs…tonight will be Cork Shorts I and we are very excited as always to see what’s new in a city that seems to have a young filmmaker standing on every corner. So we are off to grab a pint and hopefully snag the first of many great Irish shorts for our fest.

Back tomorrow with another festival update and hopefully a few films in hand.


Festival’s Closing Night 2013




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Do you like films that make you laugh out loud? How about films that capture small moments ? Mini history lessons? New economic recovery schemes? How about a bird that can’t fly? These and other topics great and small are part of the festival’s closing night SHORTS PROGRAM II. You will laugh, cry, gasp and  smile  when the films by 9 Irish filmmakers and 1 Irish American filmmaker light up the screen.

Maeve Mc GrathThe festival welcomes Maeve McGrath the producer of the short film VANNER who also starred in the role of Marion. Turns out Maeve loves snow and Chicago so do say hello. Maeve is currently working on an Irish language documentary An Teach Mor In Eireann about castles and big houses in Ireland.  BUY TICKETS

The evening begins with the announcement of two of the festival’s awards:

Mary Francis Bragiel,  WLS News 890 AM,  will announce  the 2013 CIFF Festival Award winners,  and  Katie Hamilton, Public Affaires Officer at the Irish Consulate of Chicago, will announce the 2013 Consulate of Ireland Award to the film that best represented Irish culture In this year’s festival.  Following the screening everyone is asked to vote for their favorite short and the 2013 CIFF Audience Award winners will be announced on line.  The evening ends with the closing night reception  at Lizzie McNeill’s.                        BUY TICKETS


Thank you to everyone who attended screenings at this year’s festival, we hope you had a wonderful time and  look forward to sharing the best in Irish cinema with you at the 15th Chicago Irish Film Festival, March 2014.



Wednesday night marks the close of the 14th Chicago Irish Film Festival, but its not too late to grab some tickets, watch some films … all shorts, all night!….get into an intense debate over which one deserves to win the Audience Award …vote, vote vote and then head on over to Lizzie McNeill’s to down a pint. Don’t let the festival pass you by or you’ll be kicking your shillelagh until next year when we will be celebrating 15 years of brilliant Irish cinema.





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What do mid century Irish architects, “The Troubles”, the Congo: 1961, an iconic American photo from 1932 and Mohammed Ail have in common, they are all the subjects of documentaries in the 14th Chicago Irish Film Festival, made by some of Ireland’s finest award-winning documentary filmmakers.Still Films’ Nicky Gogan and Paul Rowley bring architectural precision to their film BUILD SOMETHING MODERN that tells the story of a group of young Irish architects who embark on a remarkable journey, both personally and architecturally, when they decide to design and build schools, hospitals and churches across Africa in the 1950’s and 60’s commissioned by Catholic missionaries. Religion, which has played a major role throughout “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, but it takes a back seat in Margo Harkin’s THE FAR SIDE OF REVENGE as six women weave their stories of pain, lose, regret, and remorse into a mantle of forgiveness and support as they move towards peace and understanding in post-conflict Belfast. Peace was the objective when the United Nations stepped in to protect the newly established Democratic Republic of Congo in 1960 after it gained independence from Belgium. Directed by Brendan Culleton and Irina Maldea the documentary, CONGO: AN IRISH AFFAIR, focuses on the Irish Army’s 35th Battalion as it struggled to preserve democracy while being attacked by both native and international forces. Immigration, skyscrapers, jobs and New York City were all caught in one iconic photograph taken in 1932 of a group men perched on a steel beam 69 stories high taking a break during the construction of the GE Building, known as Lunch Atop A Skyscraper. Directed by Seán Ò Cualáin of Sonta Films, MEN AT LUNCH tells the marvelous and previously untold story of the men and the photograph with narration by Fionnula Flanagan. Although it’s not an untold story the fight between Muhammad Ali and Al “Blue” Lewis at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland in 1972 was not well known outside of Ireland. WHEN ALI CAME TO IRELAND, directed by Ross Whitaker, is a ringside seat to one of the most colorful and amazing sports stories ever told with a cast of characters that includes Yul Brynner’s son Rock, John Houston and Ronald Reagan….truly a great story about “The Greatest.”


Congo_3Documenting Ireland: amazing stories about amazing people by amazing filmmakers….




KEYS TO THE CITY weaves together three separate stories : Eoin is a businessman with bills and a mortgage, Paul is a landlord with overdue bank payments and Monika’s minimum wage job is under threat by her boss. As all three struggle for survival they becoming increasingly desperate in their actions hoping to keep their lives and families together and survive in recession -era Dublin.

KEYS TO THE CITY, was the first feature to be produced under the supervision of Filmbase in Dublin and Staffordshire University in the UK and was directed by Laura Way, Chris Brennan and Mel Cannon , and co-produced by Peter Bodie and Trisha Flood and is having its U.S. premier at the festival. The cast includes Rory Keenan (The Guard), Conor Mullen (Holby City); Una Kavanagh (Garage), Natalia Kostrzewa (The Looking Glass) and David Murray (King of the Travellers). KEYS TO THE CITY will screen Saturday, March 2.



Also having its U.S. debut at the festival is Frank Kelly´s DERELICT the story of a group of men, down on their luck, who decide to hold a bank manager’s family hostage while robbing his bank. A dark thriller filled with tension the film is set in a derelict building and focuses on the friction between the kidnappers and the family and between the kidnappers themselves; but things take a frightening turn when it appears that the kidnappers are not alone in the building. With an edgy soundtrack by Dermot O’Mahony what seemed like a simple kidnapping turns into a fight for survival for everyone involved.

Writer/Director Frank Kelly ( Emily´s Song, 140) was so committed to the film that he also edited the film and was the lead fundraiser securing over €6,500 with donations from the Drogheda community, as well as online through Kickstarter. The cast included Michael Bates (The Escapist), Steve Gunn (Titanic: Blood and Steel), Gerry Shanahan (Shackled) , Patrick O’Donnell (The Looking Glass), Elaine Reddy (Slán agus Beannacht), Catherine Wrigglesworth (Railway Children), Rory Mullen (Portrait of a Zombie) and Brian Fortune (Game of Thrones). DERELICT will screen Tuesday, March 5th.




The sci-fi romantic comedy EARTHBOUND will screen Saturday, March 2nd in its first U.S. screening since picking up a Best of the Fest at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival.

A debut feature by Writer/Director Alan Brennan EARTHBOUND has terrific performances by Rafe Spall ( Prometheus) as a nerdy young man that’s convinced he is a space alien and Jenn Murray the geeky girl of his dreams that walks into his comic book shop one fateful day. Produced by Ripple World Pictures and Paper Dreams Limited. The Director will attend.




Tony Donoghue´s IRISH FOLK FURNITURE will screen opening night, March 1st at the 14th Chicago Irish Film Festival having just won the prize for Best Animation at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

The film uses stop-motion animation to breathe life into old pieces of furniture found rotting in Irish barns and sheds.

IRISH FOLK FURNITURE was produced by Cathal Black . This is the second short film directed by Donoghue to screen at the festival, the first was A FILM FROM MY PARISH : 6 FARMS that won a festival award in 2008.



SANCTUARY is the story Jan, a successful Polish surgeon and his encounter with an intriguing young woman at a conference in Ireland. The film stars Jan Frycz (80 Millions, Little Rose) and Anne-Marie Duff (Magdeline Sisters, Nowhere Boy) and made its international debut at the Galway Film Fleadh.

SANCTUARY Is Norah McGettigan’s first feature film and was produced by Venom Film, Dublin, and Wajda Studio, Warsaw. SANCTUARY will opene the festvial March 1st.



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Award winning, entertaining, witty, animated, edgy, cultural, anticipated, this year’s short films are all this and more.

The festival will open with Tony Donoghue’s 2013 Sundance award winner, IRISH FOLK FURNITURE, an animated testament to what a new coat of paint can do. IRISH FOLK FURNITURE is part of the Spotlight on Shorts Program, a selected group of shorts that will screen with feature films and documentaries throughout the festival. This selection of shorts also includes… Lorcan Finnigan’s FOXES, an eerie portrait of nighttime happenings in one of Ireland’s “ghost estates”;  C.J. Scuffin’s THE BLOW-INS, which finds a very determined young woman attempting to redeem her family’s name—even if she has to join the sea rescue service to do it; Eoghan Kidney’s  animated film, WE, THE MASSES, is based on the art work of Robyn O’Neil, as beautiful as it is unsettling; HOME TURF, the award winning film by Ross Whitaker, beautifully captures the joys of comraderie and the ancient art of turf cutting; Shaun O’Connor’s UISCE BRETHA  won the 2012 Best of Cork Award, a fateful story of a young man with a ticket to America on the Titanic; Irish architect Orla Murphy’s animated film, TOWN, highlights the “suburbanization” of rural villages into indistinguishable centers of garages and big box outlets; Lanka Perren’s tribute to Dingle’s FOXY JOHN’S , a pub and a hardware store both day and night!; and NO JUSTICE, Alan Walsh’s gritty drama about drugs, death and revenge.



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Shorts Program I is filled with smiles and triumphs as lives are sorted out and obstacles are overcome through small stories with big hearts. Mark Coogan’s PARTLY CLOUDY is a lovely and honest portrait of sisterly love and patience… read more