Nicola boyle
Nicola Boyle.

Movie Hooley returns to Chicago

Chicago — The stars of Ireland indie films will descend on Chicago, Friday night, Sept. 24, for the 7th Annual Irish American Movie Hooley celebrating Irish and Irish-American film-making at its best with a trio of premieres at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Chicago’s Irish community was crushed when Covid canceled last year’s Movie Hooley, cutting off their annual fix of features and docs by future John Fords and Jimmy Cagneys of the motion picture industry, which annually brought bravado storytelling to the Windy City with films like “Emerald City,” “The Young Offenders,” and “Cardboard Gangsters” to State Street in the Loop. 

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John Duddy and Grainne Duddy.

Chicago celebrates the return of the Movie Hooley this Fall while hosting some of the diaspora’s darlings of cinema, including boxing legend John Duddy and wife Grainne, Nicola Boyle and Ireland’s own anti-hero John Connors, all in person for the Chicago premiere of their film “A Bend in the River” on Saturday night, Sept. 25. at 8 p.m. The Hooley reunites director/filmmaker Colin Broderick who premiered his film “Emerald City” at the 2017 Movie Hooley and now has collaborated with the filmmakers he met back then in Chicago, to bring us the autobiographical “Bend”. It’s the story of a writer who returns to Ireland, after spending 25 years in New York, to confront the ghosts of his past. 

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John Connors.

Sunday afternoon, Sept. 26 at 5 p.m., the Hooley screens the Chicago premiere of “Endless Sunshine on a Cloudy Day.” John Connors directs this sensitive and empathetic documentary that follows the final journey of popular Instagrammer, Jade McCann, and her father Anthony. An audience favorite at the Dublin Film Festival, this inspirational story is a reminder of the toxic nature of social media and the enduring truth in every soul as, "A family comes together to fight the ultimate fight and learn that love is more powerful than death." Connors and film producer Tiernan Williams will appear in person at the screening. 

Mike Houlihan.

The Hooley kicks off Friday night, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.with the World Premiere of Mike Houlihan’s charming personal documentary “In Search of Weeping Jim,” about the late Chicago Alderman James Ambrose Kearns, who emigrated from County Mayo in 1884 at the age of 13 and went on to a storied political career, campaigning  at wakes and funerals, and culminating in his introduction of legislation in 1915 directing Chicago to undertake plans for a municipal flag, which came about in 1917, earning Kearns the moniker “father of the Chicago flag.” The film features music from Irish performers The Saw Doctors, Gaelic Storm, The Wolfe Tones, Liam Durkin, Eimear Arkins and Jimmy Cloonan and many of Weeping Jim’s descendants will be in town for opening night. Houlihan says, “With this film we are claiming the Chicago flag for the Irish diaspora. From now and forever more the Chicago flag is an ‘Irish thing.’” 

The opening-night audience are all invited to a reception after the screening at the Dearborn, just around the corner from the Siskel to meet and mingle with the stars of all three films and sample the Hooley’s favorite sponsor, Paddy’s Irish Whiskey.

Hibernian Media presents the Movie Hooley in association with the Gene Siskel Film Center, unveiling a trinity of Chicago premieres of the best from Ireland and Irish American cinema. The Movie Hooley offers audiences the unique opportunity to meet the directors and stars of all three films in person and share “the craic” with them after each screening. 

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

“Now that the Gene Siskel Film Center has reopened, we are happy to bring back some of our beloved, long-running and yearly traditions like the Hooley. Now celebrating its seventh year, the Hooley is a celebration of Irish American talent and voices, and patrons who experience the films and the energy of the event - whether returning year after year or experiencing the festival for the first time - are always delighted," said Film Center Director of Programming Rebecca Fons.

See you at the movies!