Irish Reels Film Festival

#IrishAbroad: Irish Reels Film Festival 2016 shines spotlight on boom times for Irish Film

Seattle’s Irish Reels Film Festival offers a home for extraordinary Irish films allowing enthusiastic Pacific Northwest film audiences to see exquisite, visually inventive and thought-provoking new Irish cinema and meet Irish filmmakers. It is with great excitement that Irish Reels Film Festival announces the 2016 line-up including features, shorts, and documentaries by independent Irish filmmakers.

2016 has been a banner year for Irish film with the success of such blockbusters as Brooklyn and Room. As noted in the LA Times

The tiny country is also enjoying a boom among natively financed productions: Ireland collected more Oscar nominations this year than Paramount and Universal Studios combined and sent a record seven movies to the Sundance Film Festival. Not bad for a nation with a population smaller than the Greater Boston metro area.

Now in its 19th year, the festival kicks off on Friday night, October 7th, at 6:00pm at the SIFF Film Center with an Opening Night Gala co-hosted by Irish Network Seattle. At 7:30pm the film program begins with Simon Fitzmaurice’s My Name is Emily. A beautifully crafted and scored, visually stunning coming of age story, the film features Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter), Michael Smiley (The Lobster, Kill List, A Field in England) and newcomer George Webster (City of Dreamers). RTE Reviewer, Harry Guerin stated “Try to see My Name is Emily with someone special, or meet them straight after. Two worlds will be the better for it – maybe more.”  The feature will be preceded by Benjamin Cleary’s 2016 Oscar winning short film Stutterer.

Saturday night’s feature presentation at 7:00pm is Mammal, the compelling new film from director Rebecca Daly (The Other Side of Sleep). Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2016, Mammal (starring Oscar nominated Rachel Griffiths) is the story of a woman who has lost her son and develops an unorthodox relationship with a homeless youth. The closing night feature film also screens at 7:00pm on Sunday. Winner of Best Feature at Galway Film Fleadh 2015, Mark Noonan’s You’re Ugly Too is the story of a young girl Stacey (Lauren Kinsella) and her mysterious uncle Will (Aiden Gillan – Game of Thrones) who set off into the midlands to build a future life together.

On Saturday at 1:00pm the first of two Senior Presentations featured over the weekend graces the screen. Older Than Ireland is a landmark documentary revealing the story of a hundred years of life as seen through the eyes of thirty Irish men and women aged 100 or over. Director Alex Fegan (The Irish Pub) will be present to share his latest documentary.  On Sunday at 1:00pm A Doctor’s Sword follows a family’s journey to Japan to uncover the origin of the Japanese Samurai sword which now resides in MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere. This remarkable story puts one man’s bravery and extraordinary endurance front and center in this not-to-be-missed true story. The Belfast Telegraph heralded this film as “Wartime derring do by an Irish doctor whose exploits put Indiana Jones in the shade.”

Two award winning documentaries round out the documentary program for the weekend. Narrated by Brendan Gleason, Atlantic (Risteard O’Domhnaill’s follow-up to The Pipe), screens at 5:00pm on Saturday. Filmed in some of the most remote and breathtaking locations in the North Atlantic, this vital and timely film is described by The Irish Times as “Epic in scope, damning in its conclusions.” Mark Cousins’ I Am Belfast, a heartfelt poetic depiction of Belfast and its citizens, screens at 5:00pm on Sunday. Variety extolled the splendor of this film by noting, “Any old documentary can give you the history of a city, but it takes a special kind of movie to capture its spirit, from the way the sun reflects off its walls to the smell of rain on its streets.”

Thirteen short films are sprinkled throughout the program and many can also be viewed in two Short Film Programs at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday providing audiences the opportunity to see these inspiring and compelling new works in animation, short documentary and fiction. These award winning films demonstrate beyond a doubt that there will more to see in the future from a growing number of talented new Irish storytellers.

All guests are invited to enjoy post festival conversation and conviviality at our closing night party at T.S. McHugh’s, 21 Mercer Street, at 9:00pm Sunday night.

Screenings are at the SIFF Film Center. A full Festival Pass is $90 General ($80 for IHC and IN Seattle members). $12 general admission. $15 for Opening Night. The Special Senior presentations Older Than Ireland and A Doctor’s Sword are $10 General/$5 senior discount. Full festival passes and individual tickets are available through SIFF Film Center and at the door 30 minutes before show times.