#IrishFilm: A host of Irish Film Board-backed films to hit the big screen in the coming months

Over the coming months, a host of new Irish Film Board-backed feature films and documentaries will go on nationwide release with many of them having already screened at the prestigious Audi Dublin International Film Festival (ADIFF) to critical acclaim. Festival favourites such as coming-of-age feature Handsome Devil, eco-horror Without Name and moving real-life tale of the Nova Scotian folk artist, Maud Lewis, Maudie will all be released in Irish cinemas in April, May, and June respectively. Juanita Wilson’s Tomato Red and Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture will be hitting the big screens in March followed by the release of horror flick A Dark Song in April. Two documentaries are also set to reach Irish cinema-going audiences this March as boarding school documentary, In Loco Parentis and music doc Lost in France will screen across Ireland in what is shaping up to be a jam-packed season of new Irish films, which will also include the release of award-winning dramatic comedy, Sanctuary.

In Loco Parentis
In Loco Parentis

On 3 March, Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane’s boarding school documentary, In Loco Parentis, will be released in Irish cinemas, following the film’s premiere at Sundance. The documentary, which has garnered impressive critical acclaim on the international festival circuit, tells the story of Headfort, the last remaining boarding school for primary-age children in Ireland. Set in a sprawling Co. Meath estate, In Loco Parentis director Nessa Ní Chianáin offers a one-off insight into this rarefied and privileged experience.

Tomato Red
Tomato Red

Juanita Wilson’s Tomato Red will also go on release on 3 March; a film which tells the story of a small-town drifter and street philosopher on the search for his next cold beer and the bunch that’ll have him. Adapted from the 1998 Daniel Woodrell novel of the same name, Tomato Red is an original and moving film about the struggle to get a break and our deep-seated need to belong.

Lost in France - © 2016 Karla Healion
Lost in France – © 2016 Karla Healion

Also on 3 March, Wildcard Distribution will release Niall McCann’s acclaimed documentary, Lost in France, which charts the rise of Scotland’s indie music scene in the 1990s led by iconic Glasgow label, Chemikal Underground, the Delgados, Bis, Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand and Arab Strap. A series of gigs around Ireland will also accompany the film’s release.

The Secret Scripture
The Secret Scripture

Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture will be released on 24 March by Wildcard Distribution, following its recent Gala screening at ADIFF. The film—based on Sebastian Barry’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name—stars Academy Award© nominee Rooney Mara, Academy Award© winner Vanessa Redgrave, and Eric Bana alongside Irish acting talent such as Aidan Turner, Jack Reynor and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. The Secret Scripture, centres on the story of Rose McNulty (Redgrave), an elderly woman who has lives in state institutions for over 50 years.

A Dark Song - Catherine Walker and Steve Oram
A Dark Song

Coming to cinemas on 7 April is Liam Gavin’s debut feature, A Dark Song starring Catherine Walker and released by Kaleidoscope Film Distribution. Produced by David Collins and Cormac Fox at Samson Films with Tim Dennison at Tall Man Films, the film centres on a determined young woman and a damaged occultist who risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.

Handsome Devil - Image
Handsome Devil

Following a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2016 and a much-lauded ADIFF Closing Gala screening where it won Best Irish Feature, John Butler’s coming-of-age feature, Handsome Devil, will hit Irish cinemas on 21 April. Starring Irish actors Andrew Scott, Moe Dunford, Amy Huberman and Ardal O’Hanlon alongside Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine, the film follows the story of the unlikely friendship of boarding school roommates Ned (O’Shea) and Conor (Galitzine).

Without Name
Without Name

On 5 May, Element Pictures Distribution will release Lorcan Finnegan’s debut feature, Without Name. The eco-horror was another ADIFF success story this year; first premiering at TIFF and picking up a host of awards on the international festival circuit. The film tells the story of a land surveyor who attempts to measure an unnamed woodland but soon finds himself a victim of supernatural forces.


Fresh from success at Telluride, TIFF and the Berlinale, Aisling Walsh’s moving biopic of the Nova Scotia-born folk artist Maud Lewis, Maudie, will be released in Irish cinemas on 16 June by Sony Pictures Classic. Sally Hawkins stars as the titular character alongside Ethan Hawke who portrays her husband, Everett. Maud Lewis, born with a severe form of arthritis, is hired by Everett as his housekeeper and the film charts the unexpected relationship between the pair and how they both go on to fall in love with their 12 x 12 foot home that Maud covers with her paintings.

Sanctuary - Image

Following its recent DFCC Michael Dwyer Discovery Award win at ADIFF, Sanctuary by Len Collin is also due for the release this summer. The film also won Best First Irish Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2016. Set in a world of people with intellectual disabilities, Sanctuary is a touching and funny love story about Larry and Sophie; two people who long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart.

Upcoming Releases Overview:

  • 3 March: In Loco Parentis, Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane
  • 3 March: Tomato Red, Juanita Wilson
  • 3 March: Lost in France, Niall McCann
  • 24 March: The Secret Scripture, Jim Sheridan
  • 7 April: A Dark Song, Liam Gavin
  • 21 April: Handsome Devil, John Butler
  • 5 May: Without Name, Lorcan Finnegan
  • 16 June: Maudie, Aisling Walsh
  • May/June: Sanctuary, Len Collin