1 March 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
KNEECAP becomes first Irish language film selected by Sundance
2023-12-07 : News Desk
Rich Peppiatt’s KNEECAP will have its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in Utah where it will screen on opening night, Thursday 18th January.

KNEECAP, directed by Rich Peppiatt has become the first Irish language film selected by Sundance film festival.

Based on the origin story of Irish-language rap trio Kneecap, the film stars the band’s Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí in their acting debuts alongside Academy Award nominated Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs, 12 Years a Slave), Simone Kirby (Hidden Assets, Jimmy’s Hall) and Josie Walker (Belfast, The Wonder). Set in west Belfast in 2019, it chronicles how fate brings the trio together and the music that came from this.

“When I first set out to make a film in a language I didn't speak, set in a place I'm not from, little could I have imagined four years later we would be introducing Kneecap the movie to the world at the Mecca of Independent cinema,” said director Rich Peppiatt. “It's an honour to be breaking new ground for Irish language cinema with a film that surprises & provokes every bit as much as Kneecap's music.” 

Founded in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival is dedicated to independent films. Titles that have screened at the festival in the past include The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs, Little Miss Sunshine, and In Bruges as well as Irish productions such as John Crowley's Brooklyn, Yorgos Lanthimos's The Lobster, John Carney's Sing Street and Lee Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground

“We are buzzing to be premiering at Sundance,” said Kneecap. “Wherever we go we aim to smash preconceptions about cultural identity, language and highlight the role of the working classes to overthrow oppressive power. To now bring this message from the streets of West Belfast to the big screen is f*cking excellent. We're immensely proud of the film and can't wait to get it to cinemas around the world.” 

KNEECAP is the first non-US film to ever be selected for the NEXT section of the Sundance festival. The festival describes selections for this section as “pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to story-telling”. The film is writer/director Rich Peppiatt’s first live-action feature following his satirical documentary One Rogue Reporter

The film was produced by Jack Tarling and Trevor Birney for Fine Point Films and Mother Tongues Films, with Patrick O’Neill at Wildcard acting as co-producer. Funding for the film was provided by Northern Ireland Screen, the Irish Language Broadcast Fund, Screen Ireland, the BFI (awarding National Lottery funding), Coimisiún na Meán and TG4, with backing from Great Point Media.

Patrick O’Neill, MD at Wildcard added: "Wildcard are thrilled to be involved with Kneecap as producer and distributor. It's a brilliant Irish film that I am sure will connect with audiences all over Ireland and worldwide. We can't wait to bring it to Irish cinemas in 2024." 

“TG4 is the obvious broadcast partner for this bold, pulsating comedy, a rich mix of dark satire, realism and language activism,” said Proinsias Ní Ghráinne, Commissioning Editor, TG4. “What an affirmation for Irish language film and for how far our language can travel that Kneecap's story and soundtrack will open the biggest independent film festival in the world.”

The Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 18th - 28th in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah with KNEECAP screening on the opening night. Anonymous Content (The Revenant) will be representing the film at the festival alongside sales agent Charades (Aftersun). 

KNEECAP will be released in Irish cinemas by Wildcard and Curzon in 2024.

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