18 April 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
#IFTNfestival: IFTN Special – Irish Productions Premiering at TIFF
28 Aug 2018 : Nathan Griffin
Ahead of the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival, which begins Thursday, September 6th, IFTN brings you a comprehensive look at what Irish productions have been selected and who will be in attendance at the Canadian festival this year.

Seven Irish titles have been selected across Special Presentations, Discovery, and Contemporary World Cinema. See productions below.

‘The Dig’ – Out of Orbit – North American Premiere (Discovery)

Filmed on the boglands of rural Antrim, ‘The Dig’ follows Callahan (Dunford) who, after serving fifteen years in prison for murder, returns home only to find Sean (Cranitch), his victim’s father still searching for the body.

The screenplay, written by Belfast native Stuart Drennan (‘Seacht’), was developed through Northern Ireland Screen’s New Talent Focus scheme with Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Brothers Ryan and Andrew Tohill directed, while Brian J. Falconer (‘Normal People’) produced through Out of Orbit.

‘The Dig’ stars Moe Dunford (‘Vikings’, ‘Rosie’), Francis Magee (‘Game of Thrones’), Emily Taaffe (‘War & Peace’) and Lorcan Cranitch (‘Fortitude’).

Speaking about the TIFF announcement, Directors Ryan & Andy Tohill told IFTN:

“After winning Best Irish feature at the Galway Film Fleadh, a festival at home that we hold so dear, Ryan and I are absolutely thrilled that The Dig has been officially selected for TIFF.  It's a dream for us all and we are very excited for an international audience to experience what The Dig has to offer. " 

Following its TIFF announcement, news broke that XYZ Films had acquired the North American sales rights to the Toronto-bound drama.

Screening Times at TIFF:

Saturday 08/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 9:15pm

Monday 10/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 4pm

Sunday 16/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 6:15pm


‘Float Like A Butterfly’ – Port Pictures / Samson Films – World Premiere (Discovery)

Filmed on location in West Cork, ‘Float like a Butterfly’ is a powerful and timely story of a girl's fight for freedom and belonging. In a gender-reversal of classic film Billy Elliot, 15-year-old Frances (played by up-and-coming Irish actress Hazel Doupe) has to fight for the right to fight back. Raised in roadside camps in rural Ireland, Frances wants to champion her people inside the boxing ring and out, like her idol Muhammad Ali, but society is determined to break her spirit and destroy her way of life.

Speaking about Float like a Butterfly's selection, Carmel Winters said:

"I am tremendously proud that Float like a Butterfly will fly the flag in Toronto. It's a film about a girl's fight for the right to be the greatest she can be, just like her hero Muhammad Ali. It was an epic battle to get it financed so it's a real triumph to have its premiere at such a prestigious festival. Let's hope it's a knock out success!"

‘Float like a Butterfly’ is produced by Martina Niland (Sing Street) for Port Films and David Collins (A Dark Song) for Samson Films.

Producer Martina Niland added:

“We are thrilled to be having our world premiere of ‘Float like a Butterfly’ at the Toronto Film Festival in a couple of weeks-time! I am immensely proud of this film and we had such a special time shooting in beautiful West Cork. We are excited to bring it to Irish audiences soon!”

Screening Times at TIFF:

Friday 07/09 – TIFF Lightbox – 2:15pm

Sunday 09/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 7pm

Thursday 13/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 3:15pm


‘Greta’ – Metropolitan Films – World Premiere (Special Presentations)

Directed by Academy Award-winning Irish director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) and comprising an impressive Irish and international cast including Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Chloé Grace Moretz (Carrie) , Greta is a contemporary psychological thriller. After discovering a handbag on a New York subway train, Frances McCullen (Moretz), a young woman bereaved by her mother's death, sets about returning it to its rightful owner. Frances subsequently strikes up an unusual friendship with enigmatic widow Greta Hideg, however Greta's motives may be more sinister than they initially seem.

Stephen Rea, a frequent collaborator of Jordan’s, features as a private detective in the film, which sees the streets of Dublin double-up as New York.

Speaking about Greta, Neil Jordan said:

"There was something intriguing about the original screenplay when I read it because it was almost entirely amongst three women. It's a story about possession: an almost romantic obsession that refuses to let go. The fact that the obsessional elements of the story are motivated by a woman appealed to me and that no males played a significant part in the story was intriguing."

Greta is produced by James Flynn (‘Calvary’) for Metropolitan Films alongside Lawrence Bender, Sidney Kimmel and John Penotti, with Academy Award®-nominated Seamus McGarvey (Nocturnal Animals) serving as DOP, forming part of an Irish-led team which includes multiple Emmy Award-winning costume designer Joan Bergin, production designer Anna Rackard and editor Nick Emerson.

Screening Times at TIFF:

Wednesday 05/09 – Ryerson Theatre – 5:45pm

Sunday 09/09 – Ryerson Theatre – 2:30pm

Thursday 13/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 9:45pm


‘Papi Chulo’ - Treasure Entertainment – World Premiere (Special Presentations)

‘Papi Chulo’ marks Director John Butler’s third time receiving a world premiere at TIFF following the critically acclaimed ‘The Stag’ (2013) and ‘Handsome Devil’ (2016).

Cast adrift in Los Angeles, Sean, a lonely TV weatherman drives past a middle-aged Latino migrant worker standing outside Home Depot looking for work. He decides to hire this kind-looking man to be his friend. Sean is young, gay and white; Ernesto, portly, straight and married. Despite having nothing in common, they build a sort of a friendship based on sign language, until Sean becomes consumed by a deep and obsessional attraction.

Speaking about the selection, Producer Robert Walpole told IFTN:

“We are delighted to be returning to TIFF with Papi Chulo. It’s a brilliant showcase for new work and we have always had a great time there. We are especially delighted to be screening as a Special Presentation which means we are in exalted filmmaking company like Alfonso Cuarón and Jacques Audiard”

When asked about why TIFF was so important to Treasure, Producer Rebecca O’Flanagan said:

“TIFF has become the hub for launching the kind of indie films we at Treasure specialise in producing. This is the third of John’s films to play there and as it will be Papi Chulo’s world premiere, we are hoping the film will resonate with both audiences and, of course, buyers.”

‘Papi Chulo’ is produced by Rebecca O’Flanagan and Robert Walpole of Treasure Entertainment, and stars Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patino. The title is supported by Screen Ireland.

Screening Times at TIFF:

Friday 07/09 – TIFF Lightbox – 6:45pm

Sunday 09/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 6pm

Saturday 15/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 9pm


‘Vita & Virginia’ – Bl!nder Films – World Premiere (Special Presentations)

‘Vita & Virginia’ marks the sophomore feature from up-and coming British director Chanya Button and is produced by Irish producer Katie Holly for Blinder Films alongside Evangelo Kioussis.

An Irish/UK creative co-production, the film tells the true story of the relationship between the literary icon Virginia (Elizabeth Debicki) and socialite Vita (Gemma Arterton) in 1920’s London. When their paths cross, the magnetic Vita decides the beguiling, stubborn and gifted Virginia will be her next conquest, no matter the cost. Vita and Virginia forge an unconventional affair and neither will be the same without the other.

Speaking about the selection, Producer Katie Holly told IFTN:

“I am thrilled to be returning to TIFF with Vita & Virginia and particularly to be amongst such incredible filmmakers in the Special Presentations Category - I want to see most of the line up!”

When asked about distribution and plans for the film while over in TIFF, Producer Katie Holly said:
Our focus in Toronto is to sell the few remaining territories, in particular North America so that will be the priority, as well as doing meetings for other current and upcoming productions.”

Why is screening at TIFF so important to you?

“Screening at TIFF is really meaningful as it’s one of the top international film festivals with an incredible line up of films and talent attending: I’m particularly proud to be back after Bloodlight & Bami last year with a film from another brilliant female director, Chanya Button about two fierce, inspiring women and starring two superlative talents. It’s a dream team and I feel so lucky to have played a part in bringing this film to life.”

Screening Times at TIFF:

Monday 10/09 – Winter Garden Theatre – 9pm

Tuesday 11/09 – TIFF Bell Lightbox – 3:30pm

Friday 14/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 9:15pm


‘Black 47’ – Fastnet Films – North American Premiere (Contemporary World Cinema)

‘Black 47’ is set during the Great Irish Famine and stars Hugo Weaving (‘Hacksaw Ridge’, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix), Jim Broadbent (Oscar® winner for ‘Iris’) and the prolific Irish screen and stage actor Stephen Rea (‘The Crying Game’, ‘Michael Collins’).  Joining them are rising international actors James Frecheville (‘Animal Kingdom’, ‘The Drop’) and Freddie Fox (‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) along with a strong young Irish cast including Barry Keoghan (‘Dunkirk’, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’), Moe Dunford (‘Michael Inside’, ‘Patrick’s Day’) and Sarah Greene (‘Noble’, ‘Penny Dreadful’).

Following its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February, the film opened both the Audi Dublin International Film Festival and Belfast Film Festival and was the closing film of the Galway Film Fleadh earlier this summer.

The famine thriller is set to have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’, Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong movie, ‘First Man’ and Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut ‘A Star is Born’

Following the news that ‘Black 47’ would make its North American Premiere at TIFF in September, U.S. distributors IFC Films signed a deal to roll out the famine thriller in the U.S. with a release date scheduled for September 28th.

Director, Lance Daly added:

“I’m really looking forward to collaborating with IFC, in reaching out to both Irish-American audiences who will find so much personal relevance in the story behind the Irish exodus to north America, and to their wider audience (who can also claim part-Irishness after seeing this movie!). This is the first time the Great Irish Famine has been dramatized for the big screen and it will be fascinating to see how Americans and Canadians react to these images of our past, to this extraordinary story, and to the blend of action, history, and drama that our cast and crew worked so hard to create.”

Black 47’ is set to be released in Ireland, the UK and America in September with the film opening in over 100 Irish cinemas on September 5th marking the widest release ever for an Irish film in Ireland. 

Screening Times at TIFF:

Monday 10/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 6:30pm

Wednesday 12/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 9pm

Thursday 13/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 7pm


‘Rosie’ – Element Pictures – World Premiere (Contemporary World Cinema)

‘Rosie’ is centred on a young family that loses their home in Dublin during the Irish housing crisis. Former IFTA winners Sarah Greene (‘Penny Dreadful’ and ‘Burnt’) and Moe Dunford (‘Vikings’ and ‘Patrick’s Day’) star in the film, which was written by Bafta nominee Roddy Doyle (‘The Commitments’ and ‘The Snapper’).

Speaking about the selection, Director Paddy Breathnach told IFTN:

“I loved making ROSIE and am thrilled it’ll have its first screening and begin its life in Toronto.”

Writer Roddy Doyle added:

‘’I was angry when I started work on the script that became ROSIE.  I was proud to be involved in its production, and it was a pleasure to watch Paddy Breathnach, the Element producers, and the cast and crew at work.  Now, I’m delighted that the film is to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Toronto audiences love their movies and I’m sure they’ll give ROSIE a good reception.  I wish, in many ways, that I hadn’t felt the need to write ROSIE - but I can’t wait for Irish audiences to see it in October.’’

‘Rosie’ is produced by Emma Norton, Rory Gilmartin and Juliette Bonass. Roddy Doyle serves as Executive Producer alongside Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe for Element Pictures, who previously brought us ‘The Lobster’ and ‘Room’. Dearbhla Regan is executive producer for Screen Ireland.

When asked about distribution and plans for the film while over in TIFF, Producer Emma Norton told IFTN:

“Protagonist will be selling the film at TIFF so we would be hoping for conversations to start about distribution sales. Obviously we are hoping for international reviews that will feed the awareness and profile of the film.”

Why is screening at TIFF so important to you?

“Screening in TIFF is a brilliant opportunity for our film to be launched on a prestigious world stage. Without the support of an A-list festival it's really hard for films of this scale to breakout.”

‘Rosie’ was shot in and around Dublin and is backed by Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, RTÉ and Element Pictures Distribution.

Screening Times at TIFF:

Thursday 06/09 – Scotiabank Theatre – 9:45pm

Friday 07/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 4:15pm

Friday 14/09 - Scotiabank Theatre – 9am


Screen Ireland’s James Hickey, Teresa McGrane, Celine Haddad, Dearbhla Regan, and Emma Scott will attend the festival.

Screen Ireland told IFTN that there are currently no plans for a Screen Ireland event at the Canadian Festival this year.

The 43rd Toronto International Film Festival runs from Thursday, September 6th – Sunday, September 16th.

IFTA Q&A Series: Kev Cahill on VFX
IFTA Q&A Series: Stephen Jones on Acting
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