Chicago’s Movie Hooley unveils 2018 program

John Connors at the IFTA Awards 2018 in Dublin in February. SAM BOAL/ROLLINGNEWS.IE

Barbara Scharres, program director of The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, and Irish American radio personality Mike Houlihan have announced their three selections for the fourth annual Irish American Movie Hooley at the Siskel Film Center Friday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 30.

The Movie Hooley kicks off on the Friday night at 8 p.m. with the psychological thriller “Covadonga” by Irish-American writer, director and star Sean Hartofilis. “Covadonga” tells the tale of Martin Ravin, a widowed songwriter holed up in his secluded lake house, whose dark past plays macabre tricks on his mind when a mysterious young couple trespass on his property. The screening will be followed immediately by audience discussion with Hartofilis and an opening night reception at the Emerald Loop Pub on Wabash, where Hartofilis will perform songs from the film along with lively Irish tunes.

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On Saturday night at 8 p.m. the Hooley will present the Chicago premiere of “Cardboard Gangsters,” Ireland’s smash hit of the past year. Director Mark O’Connor delivers a dark contemporary tragedy of Shakespearian scope, played out within the tribal confines of a housing development on the outskirts of Dublin. John Connors’s performance, as the brave wannabe gangster taking his shot at the drug lord boss and the boss’s wife, won him Ireland’s Film and Television Best Actor Award. Director O’Connor will be present for the screening and discussion afterwards.

On Sunday afternoon, the festival will host the American premiere of “Mother’s Day” at 5 p.m., directed by Fergus O’Brien. This BBC production chronicles the historic events surrounding the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington that killed two children and sparked a peace movement, led by an Irish mother outraged at the violence, who reaches out in sympathy and friendship to the British mother of one of the victims. This emotional and deeply moving film evenhandedly portrays the pain that fires sectarian passions on both sides, as the two mothers find common ground for the sake of the children. Director O’Brien will be in attendance for screening and discussion afterwards.

Hooley producer Mike Houlihan says, “Once again we’re thrilled to present three distinctive stories that capture and evoke our Irish culture.”

Now in its 46th year of public programming, the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has presented world-class independent, international, and classic cinema. Renamed in honor of the late film critic in 2000, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents approximately 1,500 screenings and 100 guest artist appearances each year to over 65,000 film enthusiasts at its unique, sophisticated, modern facilities, which have been operating since June 2001 at 164 N. State Street in Chicago.

“The Gene Siskel Film Center is looking forward to our annual collaboration with Hibernian Transmedia to present the fourth Irish American Movie Hooley in order to highlight the creativity of filmmakers representing Ireland and the Irish Diaspora. The Movie Hooley is not only a good way to bring recognition to the work, it's a good time for audience and filmmakers alike.” said Siskel Program Director Barbara Scharres.

For more information about the Movie Hooley, visit: All screenings and events are at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, located at 164 N. State St.

Tickets are available through the Gene Siskel Film Center’s website or through the individual films’ web links on

Discounted parking is available for $18 for 10 hours at the InterPark SELF-PARK at 20 E. Randolph St. A rebate ticket can be obtained from the Film Center Box Office.

The Film Center is located near CTA trains and buses. Nearest CTA L stations are Lake (Red line); State/Lake (Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple lines); and Washington (Blue line). CTA bus lines serving State St.: 2, 6, 10, 29, 36, 62, 144, and 146.

For more information about the Film Center, call 312-846-2800 (24-hour movie hotline) or 312-846-2600 (general information, 9:00 am-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday), or visit