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Sundance 2016: Unprecedented Seven Irish films making waves in Park City
26 Jan 2016 : Seán Brosnan
John Carney’s ‘Sing Street’ has been acclaimed since making its’ world premiere at Sundance
Following a record nine nominations for Irish projects and artists at this year’s Academy Awards, the Irish continue to impress on the world stage with major international publications heaping praise on the Irish titles screening at the Sundance Film Festival over the past week.

The seven Irish films, an unprecedented number, includes world premieres for John Carney’s ‘Sing Street’, Rebecca Daly’s ‘Mammal’, Whit Stillman’s ‘Love & Friendship’ and Irish co-produced documentary ‘The Land of the Enlightened’. Other Irish films screening include Paddy Breathnach’s ‘Viva’ and Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster’, as well as short film ‘A Coat Made Dark’.

John Carney’s ‘Sing Street’, set to open ADIFF next month and hitting Irish cinemas on March 17th, received a very enthusiastic response with critics comparing the film very favourably to ‘Once’ and ‘Begin Again’ – Carney’s previous musical drama. The Guardian gave the film four stars and described the film as “pretty terrific” and a “cymbal-crashing crowdpleaser” with The Hollywood Reporter praising the film for its’ “infectious joyousness”. Noted US film critic Guy Lodge, writing for Variety, states that “ lightning strikes thrice as Irish writer-director John Carney's let's-make-a-band formula once more yields winning results”.

Rebecca Daly’s second feature ‘Mammal’, though completely different in tone and style, drew similar plaudits after premiering in Utah. Reviewing the film, US screen bible Screen International said:“ The raw vulnerability of their performances creates a rock solid centre to this delicately handled immersion in love and grief.” The review goes on to praise the film for its’ “sensitively judged” direction and the “totally committed performances from Rachel Griffiths and Barry Keoghan”.

Whit Stillman’s highly anticipated Irish co-pro ‘Love & Friendship’ didn’t disappoint in its’ world premiere, garnering critical praise from the likes of The Guardian, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. The Guardian gave the film four stars, largely praising Kate Beckinsale’s lead performance and said that the Whit Stillman’s “pantheon of highly literate heroines would be at home in Jane Austen’s world of manners and unrequited passions.” Justin Chang of Variety said that the film is “a supremely elegant and delicately filigreed adaptation of Jane Austen’s epistolary novella Lady Susan.” Hollywood Reporter said that the film is “cheeky in its approach as well as spirited and good-natured” and praised the production design of the film writing: “Shot entirely in Ireland, mostly in 18th century great houses, Love & Friendship is nicely decked out on a budget.” The film was also acquired by Curzon Artificial Eye for UK distribution while Roadside Attractions are teaming with Amazon Studios to release the picture in North America.

Also impressing at Sundance is the Fastnet Films co-produced documentary ‘The Land of the Enlightened’. The Pieter-Jan De Pue directed documentary, which follows armed bands of children in Afghanistan surviving on scavenging and stealing, drew plaudits from Screen International who described the film as “hypnotic, playful and chillingly austere”. The reviewer goes on to state that the film is a “logistical triumph” in capturing plenty of “visual magic” in difficult conditions.

‘The Land of the Enlightened’ is screening in competition in the International Documentary Strand with ‘Mammal’ also playing in competition in the World Dramatic Competition. Both films will be distributed by Wildcard Distribution and are set for Irish cinema releases in 2016.

The Sundance Film Festival runs until January 31st – stay tuned to IFTN for more Sundance news as it comes in.

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