By Orla O’Sullivan
The Wee Craic festival wasn’t short on craic, just a smaller showcase for short films out of Ireland than the main Craic fest, held around St. Patrick’s Day.
The last one was held at a real cinema—the Film Forum—whereas last Friday’s screening gathered 50 viewers or more into a downstairs room of the Lower East Side Bar, Arlene’s Grocery.
Once again, organizer Terence Mulligan produced a double-bill: movies followed by a free bar of whiskey and beer. The crowd reconvened in RBar on the Bowery, where the Mighty Stef played.
There was the same high quality, good dose of animation, and some overlap in the films shown at both Craic events.
However, the Wee Craic emphasized shorts from the past year, including: “The Hatch”; “Pet Hate”; “Bird Food”; “The Boy in the Bubble” and “Thin Ice”.
Some were back by popular demand, such as Oscar-nominated “Pentecost” and “Give Up Yer Aul Sins” -- an animation set to an actual 1960s recording of a Dublin schoolgirl giving an unwittingly hilarious account of John the Baptist’s demise, which can be found on YouTube.
Another funny requested was “Granny O’Grimm,” an animated tale of a granny whose bedtime story is dark enough to ensure that the child hearing it may never sleep again. (This is available online at www.vimeo.com/7937986.)
“The Hatch” is a modern-day tale, with some baffling mythic and science-fiction dimensions, set in a trawler off of Cork. The fishermen spear something ambiguous from the deep, which leads to tragedy and to the birth of a seemingly 30-pound baby. Despite its weirdness, and its sometimes clichéd dialogue (fisherman to his bookish son: “It’s no life for you”), it keeps the viewer engaged with strong acting and its cinematography; the latter won James Maher an award at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
Next up was “Useless Dog,” as simple as “The Hatch” is convoluted. What do you do if you have a sheepdog that the sheep chase? “Sure, you have to just live with it,” says the owner in Ken Wardrop’s award-winning film (which is also available on YouTube). And sure, isn’t said dog a delight to watch? The opening scene is Chaplinesque in the way it so perfectly pairs to music the dog’s wagging wiggle.