Irish Abroad: Wins for Brooklyn and Room at Vancouver International Film Festival

The 34th annual Vancouver International Film Festival finished on Friday, with a gala screening and the announcement of the audience award winners. Two Irish films were among the winners, with Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, named winner of the Rogers People’s Choice Award as the festival’s overall most popular film, and Lenny Abrahamson’s Canadian/Irish co-production Room winning Most Popular Canadian Feature.

Brooklyn, which was chosen as the Opening Film for the festival, is an adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s best-selling novel by the equally best-selling British author Nick Hornby. Intermission director Crowley has gathered an all-star Irish and British cast, that features Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters. Brooklyn is an Irish/British co-production from Wildgaze Films, Finola Dwyer Productions, Parallel Films and Item 7. Brooklyn was co-financed by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board. The film was acclaimed following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, selling to US distributor Fox Searchlight for $9m. It will be released in Irish cinemas on November 6th.

Room sees writer Emma O’Donoghue adapt her own best-selling novel, which is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother. To him the room is his world, but his mother knows different having been held there for 7 years. The film stars Brie Larson (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now), Jacob Tremblay (The Smurfs 2, Somnia), Joan Allen (The Bourne Supremacy, Nixon) and William H. Macy (Shameless, Magnolia). The film also features Sean Bridgers (Rectify), Tom McCamus (The Samaritan) and Megan Park (What If). Room is an Element Pictures and No Trace Camping production, in association with Telefilm Canada, Film4, and Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board. It will be released in Irish cinemas on January 15th.

Other winners included The Most Popular International Documentary award going to Stig Björkman’s Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words; Charles Wilkinson’s Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World winning Most Popular Canadian Documentary; Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley’s Landfill Harmonic winning the VIFF Impact: International Audience Award; and Damien Gillis and Fiona Rayher’s Fractured Land winning the VIFF Impact: Canadian Audience Award.

The 34th VIFF included 355 films from 70 countries this year, featuring 32 world premieres, 33 North American premieres, and 53 Canadian premieres.