Wednesday, 28 September 2011

IFNY – Irish Film New York showcases quirky, brilliant Irish talent

In any given year, the graph of Irish culture in the U.S. is skewed disproportionately towards the month of March, offering us more options around St Patrick’s Day than any of us could possibly attend, followed by swift decline in excitement when that month is over.
This year is different: Imagine Ireland, a celebration of Irish culture across the full spectrum of the arts, spoils us for choice for the full twelve months of the year, offering music, dance, film and theatre, not just in major coastal cities, but across the country. And now, as the autumn schedule unfolds in these parts, fans of Irish film are treated to a new festival that aspires to become an annual event in NYC.
At the end of the month, Irish Film New York offers a broad range of contemporary Irish features, from drama and documentary to comedy, starring household names and actors who soon will be.
The festival is the brainchild of Niall McKay, a Wicklow native who comes to town from the West Coast with a reputation for getting things done. McKay is the founder and director of San Francisco Irish Film Festival, an event that has been a highlight of the Cali-Irish calendar for more than a decade. McKay recently relocated to NYC, and in an impressively short space of time has put together a three-day salute to the best of current Irish cinema.
The series opens on Friday, Sept. 30, with “Knuckle”, Ian Palmer’s documentary about the brutal sport of bare-knuckle boxing in the Irish Traveller community. Palmer’s cameras followed rival clans for more than a decade to capture the bruises and the glory of their illegal backstreet bouts, and the big money changing hands on the bloody outcome. This underground sport was showcased, in fictional form, by Brad Pitt in Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch,” but Palmer’s “Knuckle” is the real deal.
In lighter vein, Marion Quinn’s “32A” is a coming-of-age dramedy set in Dublin in the 1970s. The title refers to both the lead character’s burgeoning womanhood and her bus route into town in search of devilment. Marion, sibling of a formidable family of filmmakers that includes actor Aidan, director Paul, and cinematographer Declan Quinn, captures the look and feel of Dublin at that time. Her film will appeal tremendously to nostalgists of pre-boom, pre-bust Ireland (and these days, that’s everybody).
The laborious process of raising money to finance a film often results in a director’s theme passing its sell-by date before the film is finished, but Darragh Byrnes’ droll comedy “Parked” is right up-to-the-minute on Ireland’s current economic plight.
The film centers on the travails of returning emigrant, Fred Daly, who lands back in Ireland friendless, broke, and reduced to living in his car. Despondent about the turn things have taken, Fred is cajoled by a fellow car park dweller into giving life and love another try. Colm Meaney, one of a handful of Irish actors always worth the price of admission, plays the hapless lead character, and Finnish actress Milka Ahlroth his love interest. An Irish-Finnish co-production, ‘Parked” was well received at the Helsinki Film Festival.

IFNY – Irish Film New York showcases quirky, brilliant Irish talent

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