Toronto Irish Film Festival

Irish Abroad: Looking at the films of the 2015 Toronto Irish Film Festival

The fifth Toronto Irish Film Festival takes place this weekend (March 6th to 8th), celebrating the best of Irish cinema. This year’s festival includes a selection of projects funded by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, as well as films funded by NI Screen and independently.

The Opening Night Gala on Friday, March 6, sponsored by Tourism Ireland, is Standby which will receive its Toronto premiere at the event. Directed by Rob and Ronan Burke, Standby stars Brian Gleeson (The Stag) and Jessica Paré (Mad Men). Alan (Gleeson) works at the tourism desk in Dublin Airport. Alice (Paré) is an American on standby. Eight years ago, Alan and Alice had a romance that ended badly. Now, every hotel room in Dublin is booked and despite initial frostiness, they decide to spend the evening getting to know each other again. Both will tell lies about how well the last eight years have gone, but as the night goes on they gradually come to realize that perhaps they are more compatible than ever before.

Also receiving its Toronto premiere is Gold, directed by Niall Heery and starring David Wilmot (Calvary), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday) and Kerry Condon (Rome). Wilmot stars as Ray, who left town twelve years previously after his childhood sweetheart, Alice (Condon), dumped him, taking their daughter (Williams) away from him. Now he must return home at the request of his ailing father, who wishes to see his granddaughter before it’s too late. But things take a turn for the absurd when Ray realises his daughter and her mother have built a new life with his former P.E. teacher (Nesbitt), a controlling and regimented figure who is the direct opposite of Ray.

Also screening is the acclaimed feature film Good Vibrations, the heart-warming and uplifting story of Belfast music legend Terri Hooley, the man responsible for discovering The Undertones and recording Teenage Kicks, giving alternative music a chance to flourish in 1970s Belfast. Directed by Cherrybomb duo Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, the film stars Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones), Liam Cunningham (The Guard, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) Adrian Dunbar (Ashes to Ashes, Mo), Dylan Moran (Run Fatboy Run, Sean of the Dead), Killian Scott (Love / Hate), Andrew Simpson (Notes on a Scandal), Mark Ryder (Albatross) and Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones) as Fergal Sharkey.

The festival will also feature a sneak preview of Yann Demanage’s nail biting action thriller ’71, which opens in Toronto on Friday, March 13th. The festival closes with Rebuilding The World Trade Center, the epic story of hope that is emerging from the rubble and chaos of 9/11.  Since 2006, Belfast artist and filmmaker Marcus Robinson has spent over 2,000 days filming the vast new towers rising out of the bedrock of New York City.  Using a combination of observational documentary and breath taking time lapse photography this dramatic and stylish film is an artist’s tribute to the tenacity of New York’s construction workers and the spirit of renewal and endeavor that permeates this unique project construction site.

Also screening at the festival is the short documentary Analogue People in a Digital Age, which looks at eight men who fight to  stay relevant on the day of the analogue to digital TV switchover. This short was directed by Keith Walsh and produced by Jill Beardsworth.

Six other short films will also feature with I Am Jesus, Anya, Anywhere But Here, Careful What You Wish For, I’ve Been A Sweeper, and Waterlilies showing.

The fifth annual Toronto Irish Film Festival takes place from March 6th to 8th 2015.