Silver Screen / By Michael Gray
Irish Film New York, in its second year on the NY cultural calendar, presents a diverse selection of new movies from Ireland at the NYU Cantor Center, from Oct. 5 – 7.
Niall McKay, curator/director of IFNY, follows the success of the recent Lincoln Center screening of Oscar-nominated Irish short films with a range of full-length features that represent the best of current Irish filmmaking.
The series opens with Kieron J Walsh’s “Jump”, shot on location in Derry, Northern Ireland. Walsh’s drama features four young adults as they gear up for the excitement of New Year’s Eve in their native city. The atmosphere is festive in the post-Troubles era, but the shadow of the city’s violent past darkens their mood as the evening gathers momentum. Walsh’s film stars up-and-coming actors Nichola Burley and Martin McCann (who played U2 singer Bono in last year’s IFNY hit, “Killing Bono”).
Kirsten Sheridan, daughter of the illustrious filmmaker Jim, presents her third feature film “Dollhouse,” a tense psychological thriller about a group of nervy teens who break into a stunning ultra-modern mansion in an up-market South County Dublin neighborhood. The forced entry starts out as a prank, but as the night wears on, shocking revelations are made, and the drink-fuelled youngsters decide to trash the place. The haphazardly-choreographed chaos of the evening takes a strange turn when the homeowner shows up, and gleefully joins in the mayhem. Sheridan directs with a loose style that gives her cast of relative unknowns free rein to improvise. Her provocative film was well received at the SXSW festival earlier this year.
Also shot on location in South County Dublin is Ian Fitzgibbon’s “Death of A Superhero.” Based on New Zealander Anthony McCarten’s book of the same name, this coming-of-age drama follows the fortunes of a teenage dreamer who creates his own comic novels. The dark forces of his graphic fantasies find a horrific parallel in the real world when the boy is diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness. Dubliner Fitzgibbon, who had previously directed “Perrier’s Bounty” and “A Film With Me In It,” uses a mix of live action and animation to explore the troubled mind of the lead character, Donald (Thomas Brodie Sangster, who played the young Paul McCartney in “Nowhere Boy”).
Rural Ireland provides the setting for “Pilgrim Hill,” written and directed by Gerard Barrett. The film examines the life of a bachelor farmer who dedicates himself to maintaining the dairy herd on the family holding, and taking care of his elderly father. The film will resonate with viewers from a rural background, who know all too well that lives of enforced solitude and desperate loneliness are lived out quietly amid idyllic Irish landscapes.
The series concludes on Sunday, Oct. 7, with a
feature-length documentary, “Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey.” Director Leila Doolin’s film is an in-depth analysis of the life and times of radical firebrand Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, a legend in Northern Ireland politics since she was elected as mid-Ulster MP, while still a 21-year-old Queens University student, to the Westminster Parliament, in the tumultuous times that followed the Battle of The Bogside. An eyewitness to the massacre of Bloody Sunday in January 1972, Devlin McAliskey survived a 1981 assassination attempt by loyalist paramilitaries, who shot her seven times in front of her children, and continues to the present day to fight for justice in Northern Ireland. Doolin’s film is the first documentary on Bernadette since John Goldschmidt’s, made for TV in 1969 as the activist launched herself into the international political arena.
The IFNY series opens Friday Oct. 5, and continues through the weekend. Tickets and details are available online at www.irishfilmnyc.com, and the Cantor Center box office, located on West 8th Street in Manhattan. The photo above is a scene from the Derry-set "Jump."