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Strong start for Irish film in 2015
07 Jan 2015 : Seán Brosnan
'Glassland' is one of five features that will screen at Sundance in an exciting start to 2015
With the Sundance Film Festival just around the corner in which five Irish titles will screen, including three in competition, IFTN looks at the Irish films that will have people talking in the first quarter of 2015.

‘Glassland’, ‘Strangerland’, ‘The Visit’, 'The Hallow' and 'Brooklyn' are all scheduled to screen at the internationally renowned festival, which kicks off on January 22nd, with Irish Film Board Chief Executive James Hickey heralding the Irish haul of films as ‘a major achievement for the Irish film industry’.

Hickey goes on to state that the Section 481 Tax Credit initiative (which was enhanced at the start of this year) is a ‘vital part of the marketing of Ireland.’ Hickey also told the Irish Independent that ‘2014 has been hugely successful. Showing films at Cannes and Sundance was incredibly important. Not only do they heighten our profile but they result in North American distribution deals’ with the Chief Executive now looking at 2015 which kicks off with a slew of Irish titles at the world’s leading independent film festival.

2013 IFTA Rising Star winner Gerard Barrett will be in attendance for the first time at Sundance after his second feature ‘Glassland’ was selected to screen in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section which only selects 12 films from thousands of entries. ‘Glassland’ tells the story of a young taxi driver on the fringes of the criminal underworld who, in a desperate bid to save his mother from addiction and unite his broken family, is forced to take a job which will see him pushed further into its underbelly. The film is Barrett’s follow-up to his award winning debut film ‘Pilgrim Hill’ and stars Jack Reynor (‘What Richard Did’), Toni Collette (‘The Sixth Sense’) and Will Poulter (‘The Maze Runner’). ‘Glassland’, the joint winner of the Best Film Award at the 2014 Galway Film Fleadh, was produced by Element Pictures (‘Frank’, ‘What Richard Did’) and was filmed on location in Dublin.

A Fastnet Films Irish/Australian co-production ‘Strangerland’ starring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes will also be screening in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section. 'Strangerland' details the steady unravelling of one couple’s lives after their two teenage children go missing in the Australian outback and is co-scripted by Michael Kinirons (‘Lowland Fell’, ‘Treeclimber’) and shot by PJ Dillon (‘Penny Dreadful’, Vikings’). The film is being co-financed by the Irish Film Board and co-producer on the project is Macdara Kelleher of Fastnet Films.

There will also be an Irish documentary in competition at the festival as ‘The Visit’, an Irish co-production, from the team behind the documentary ‘His & Hers’ will screen in the World Documentary Competition category. Co-produced by Andrew Freedman of Venom Film, ‘The Visit’ is a creative documentary that poses the question, what would happen if we were to be visited by a being from another world? The film presents this hypothetical scenario to experts from around the world who have already dedicated their lives to preparing for such an event. The compositing and VFX on the film took place at Screen Scene.

In the Park City at Midnight section of the festival, Irish/British co-production 'The Hallow', written and directed by Colin Hardy, will have its world premiere. Co-produced by Fantastic Films with funding from the Irish Film Board, the film tells the story of a London-based conservationist who is sent to Ireland to survey an area of ancient forest believed by the superstitious locals to be hallowed ground and unwittingly disturbs a horde of terrifying beings and must fight to protect his family. Windmill Lane is across picture edit, and Ardmore Sound is across sound post.

Also chosen to have its’ world premiere at the festival is the much anticipated Irish drama ‘Brooklyn’, starring Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson. Directed by IFTA and BAFTA- winning director John Crowley (‘Intermission’, ‘Boy A’) and adapted from Colm Tóibin’s novel of the same name, ‘Brooklyn’ was produced by Wildgaze Films, Finola Dwyer Productions, Parallel Films and Item 7 – and was co-financed by the Irish Film Board. Ronan will play Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant in 1950’s New York whose blossoming relationship with an Italian plumber is threatened when Eilis decides returns to Ireland where her attraction for a charming local man called Jim (Domhnall Gleeson), grows.

New Irish Films on Release

The first quarter of 2015 will also see three Irish films hitting our cinema screens with the critically acclaimed ‘Patrick’s Day’ being announced for a February 6th release date. Distributed by Wildcard Distributions, the Terry McMahon film was the joint winner at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh for Best Irish Feature. It stars Moe Dunford (who recently got chosen to receive a Shooting Star Award) as a mentally ill young man who falls in love with a depressed flight attended (Catherine Walker) much to the disapproval of his mother (Kerry Fox). ‘Patrick’s Day’ was made by Ignition Film Productions with Underground Films and Forefront Features in association with the Irish Film Board and RTÉ.

Another Irish film set for a cinema release by Wildcard Distributions is the documentary ‘Apples of the Golan’ which tells the story of Majdal Shams, one of five remaining Arab villages in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. ‘Apples of the Golan’ is based on original research by Gearóid O Cúinn and is a Twopair Films Production in co-production with Golden Girls Films in association with the Vienna Film Fund with the participation of the Irish Film Board and is directed by Jill Beardsworth and Keith Walsh. The film will be released in the IFI Cinemas Dublin – with more locations to be announced – on January 16th.

Though no release date has officially been announced it is widely expected that Tomm Moore and Cartoon Saloon’s follow-up to the Oscar-nominated ‘The Secret of Kells’ – ‘Song of the Sea’ – will be released in March 2015. The film was last year nominated for seven Annie Awards and was made with development and production support from the Irish Film Board. The film features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Lisa Hannigan and music from Kila and has been garnering Oscar buzz since being released to US cinemas last year.

Another Irish animated film that will be hoping for an Oscar nomination is short film ‘Coda’ which last month made a shortlist of 10 for the Oscar for Best Animated Short and will be hoping to advance to a nomination when the nominees are announced on January 15th. Northern Irish short films ‘SLR’ and ‘Boogaloo and Graham’ have also been shortlisted for Oscars – in the category of Best Live Action Short.




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