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Irish Talent to Shine at Major International Film Festivals
30 Jul 2021 : News Desk
Irish projects and talent at Edinburgh, Toronto, and Venice International Film Festivals
With Cannes and the Galway Film Fleadh in the rear-view mirror, the film industry is gearing up for the next round of top-class Festivals with Irish talent and films on display at major upcoming festivals such as Edinburgh, Toronto, and Venice.

The first of these Irish projects selected is Ruth Meehan’s debut feature The Bright Side, which focuses on the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis on the life of a stand-up comic (Gemma-Leah Devereaux) has been selected for the prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) which runs from 18th- 25th August. The 74-year-old event will roll return to the Festival Theatre and the Filmhouse, after returning from a hiatus of more than two years.

The Festival is opening with the Nicolas Cage-starring  Pig and features films starring Billy Crystal, Rebecca Hall, Richard E Grant, Sharon Horgan, Morven Christie, Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. 

Edinburgh International Film Festival  (August 18th – 25th): The Bright Side

Inspired by Anne Gildea’s best-selling memoir I’ve Got Cancer, What’s Your Excuse? The Bright Side is a fresh new dramedy about the healing power of love, laughter, and friendship.

“It was an absolute joy to make such a personal film as The Bright Side,” said Director Ruth Meehan. “It has nurtured, inspired, and entertained me in a dark time. I am delighted to have a chance to share it with Irish audiences on the big screen this summer where I hope it will do the same for them.”

World-weary stand-up comedienne, Kate McLaughlin (Gemma-Leah Devereux ) is in a dark place - she wants out. Her morbid prayers are answered in the form of a cancer diagnosis. To placate her family, she begrudgingly agrees to undergo chemotherapy. Armed with staggering levels of cynicism and a plethora of blackly comic jokes, Kate gets off to a bad start with four other women she encounters in the chemo ward; four women from all walks of Irish life, whose unsolicited friendships are perfectly designed to blow open her shut down heart. 

The Bright Side is a Playground Pictures production, directed by Ruth Meehan, written by Jean Pasley and Ruth Meehan.  It stars Gemma-Leah Devereux, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Siobhan Cullen, Derbhle Crotty, Barbara Brennan, Karen Egan and Kevin McGahern. It is produced by Tony Deegan with backing from Screen Ireland, RTE, and BAI.  

Break Out Pictures has announced that The Bright Side will be available to Irish audiences in cinemas nationwide on August 20th following its debut at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The 74th Edinburgh International Film Festival will take place at the heart of Edinburgh’s festival season, between 18 and 25 August, and presents a fantastic programme of feature and short films celebrating the long-awaited return to cinema. This special programme of in-person and digital screenings includes 31 new features and 73 shorts – with 18 marking their world and 3 international premieres at the festival – and with 50% of the new features in the EIFF 2021 programme from a female director or co-director.

Toronto International Film Festival (September 9th – 18th): WolfBelfast, and Chris O’Dowd in The Starling

Irish film Wolf, starring George MacKay and Lily-Rose Depp, will receive its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this September.

After premiering at the 46th TIFF in September, which is taking place both in-person and digitally, the film will be released in Irish cinemas later this year.

Written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri (Nocturnal), Wolf also stars Paddy Considine and Eileen Walsh and tells the story of Jacob, a boy who believes that he is a wolf trapped in a human body.

"I could not be more proud to premiere Wolf at TIFF this year,” director Biancheri said of the news. “It has been such a long journey, made even more challenging by the pandemic. I'm excited to share the film with the world and the incredible work of my cast and crew with our first audience at Toronto this September."

Jessie Fisk and Jane Doolan, producers of Wolf, added: "We are honoured to launch Wolf to the world from Toronto this year. We are very thankful to TIFF for giving us this terrific platform, to our distributor Focus Features and sales agent Bankside Films for their support and commitment.”

"We'd also like to thank our partners Screen Ireland, Eurimages and the Polish Film Institute,” the producers added. “We are thrilled that the tireless work of our incredible cast and crew is recognised by one of the world's most prestigious festivals and we are so proud that our film is about to begin such an exciting journey."

Also premiering in Toronto is Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. Described as his “most personal film,” Northern Irish writer-director Branagh's semi-autobiographical drama stars Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, and newcomer Jude Hill.

Balfe and Dornan play the boy's "glamorous, working-class" parents, with Dench and Hinds playing his grandparents.

Belfast is billed as "the humorous, tender, and intensely personal story of one boy's childhood during the tumult of the late 1960s" with Branagh describing it as being "… about coming home - a dramatic journey of excitement, emotion, and humour."

Focus Features, part of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), will distribute Belfast in the US, with Universal Pictures International distributing for the rest of the world.

Focus Features Chairman, Peter Kujawski said: "Highly personal and passionate, Belfast is a heart-warming piece that is bursting with life, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences worldwide."

The film also features a host of Irish acting talent such as Lara McDonnell (Artemis Fowl), Aoife Hinds (Normal People), Conor MacNeill (Rebellion, Resistance ), Brid Brennan (Calm with Horses), and the film is edited by IFTA-Winning Editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle (Misbehaviour, Rosie), who also worked with Branagh on his much anticipated Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile; the follow-up to Branagh’s box-office smash Murder on the Orient Express. 

Wolf and Belfast join a number of critically acclaimed Irish films, which have debuted at TIFF in recent years, including the IFTA Best Film Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated Wolfwalkers, Cathy Brady's critically acclaimed feature debut Wildfire, for which she won best director at this year’s IFTA’s and Calm With Horses, which earned Niamh Algar a Best Supporting Actress IFTA in 2020.

Other Irish Talent featuring at TIFF 21 include Chris O’Dowd who co-stars with Melissa McCarthy in Theodore Melfi’s The Starling, a bittersweet tale of a couple working their way toward the other side of grief.

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival will take place from September 9th to 18th, 2021.

Venice Film Festival (September 1-11th): Paul Mescal, Jessie Buckley, and Dalkey’s Adopted Son

In Venice, Irish talent will be on display in the form of Normal People’s Paul Mescal who makes his feature film debut, and Jessie Buckley, who both star in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, The Lost Daughter. The adaptation of the Elena Ferrante book of the same boasts an impressive cast that also includes Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Alba Rohrwacher.

The Lost Daughter tells the story of a college professor (played by Colman) who becomes obsessed with a mother and young daughter while on a seaside summer holiday. As the professor reflects on the choices she made in her own life, she loses her grip. Mescal has won rave reviews and accolades for his lead role in Normal People and recently won the Best Actor Drama award at the 2021 IFTAs and BAFTA TV awards. Buckley’s career has exploded since her breakout performances in Wild Rose and Chernobyl, for which she won Best Actress Film and Best Supporting Actress Drama at the 2020 IFTA Awards.

The Lost Daughter will screen in competition at the festival.

Also screening at Venice is Sir Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, which was shot  in Wicklow, Dublin, Tipperary, and Kilkenny.

Directed by The Martian, Black Hawk Down, and Gladiator director Ridley Scott, the film also stars Adam Driver, Killing Eve star Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck. The Last Duel tells a story of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France and is said to be based on actual events.

The Last Duel opens In Irish cinemas on October 15th and it was partially shot in Cahir Castle, County Tipperary and Bective Abbey, County Meath, as well as various locations in Dublin and Wicklow.

When the pandemic struck, filming in Ireland was abandoned and Damon was forced to spend several months in the Dublin seaside village of Dalkey where he became somewhat of an honorary Irishman.

The film centres around France’s last sanctioned duel, which took place between Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Driver), two friends turned bitter rivals. Carrouges was a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield, while Le Gris was a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles in court.

When Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite (Comer), was viciously assaulted by Le Gris, a charge he denied, she refused to stay silent and accused her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy. The ensuing trial by combat, a gruelling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands.





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