Irish Abroad: Three Irish films competing at Sundance 2015

One of the most prestigious film festivals in the world announced its lineup earlier today. The Sundance Film Festival is the largest US festival dedicated to showcasing new work from American and international independent filmmakers. The festival consists of a number of strands, one of which is the World Dramatic Competition, featuring 12 films from emerging filmmakers around the world. The 2015 festival will host Gerard Barrett’s Glassland as one of those 12, alongside Irish co-productions Strangerland, and The Visit.

Starting a week later than usual next year (to avoid the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend), the 2015 festival will run from January 22nd to February 1st, in Park City, Utah.

Earlier this year Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank played at the festival, making this the second time in a row that Element Pictures have a film in official competition. Earlier this year Glassland also took home a share of the top prize at the Galway Film Fleadh, alongside Terry McMahon’s Patrick’s Day which is doing equally as well at home and abroad.

Glassland tells the story of a young taxi driver on the fringes of the criminal underworld, who in an effort to save his mother from addiction and unite his broken family is forced to make a life changing moral decision.

The cast features Jack Reynor (What Richard Did), Toni Collette (Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine), Will Poulter (Son of Rambow, We’re the Millers) and the award winning Northern Irish actor Michael Smiley (A Field in England, Kill List).

Glassland is Barrett’s second feature film following the hugely acclaimed Pilgrim Hill which wowed audiences at the Galway Film Fleadh and across the world two years ago. Glassland will be out in Irish cinemas on April 17th, 2015.

Glassland is written and directed by Barrett and produced by Ed Guiney (Frank, What Richard Did) and Juliette Bonass (Get Up and Go) for Element Pictures in association with Barrett’s NINE. The film is financed by the Irish Film Board and Element Pictures Distribution who will handle the film in the UK and Ireland. Executive producer is Andrew Lowe.

Irish co-production Strangerland will also play in the same strand. The film is directed by Kim Farrant, and stars Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Lisa Flanagan, Meyne Wyatt, and Maddison Brown.

Strangerland tells the story of Catherine and Matthew Parker, whose two teenage kids disappear into the remote Australian desert, and sees the couple’s relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children’s fate.

The Visit, an Irish co-production, from the team behind the hit documentary His & Hers will screen in the World Documentary Competition category. Both films were produced with support from Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board.

Co-produced by Venom Film (His and Hers, Undressing My Mother), The Visit is a creative documentary that poses the question, what would happen if we were to be visited by a being from another world. The film presents this hypothetical scenario to experts from around the world who have already dedicated their lives to preparing for such an event.

Commenting on the news, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board Chief Executive, James Hickey said: “Congratulations to the filmmaking teams behind Glassland, Strangerland and The Visit. It’s great to see the work of talented Irish directors, writers and actors compete with the best in the world at the Sundance Film Festival. Frank and Calvary proved to be amongst the most well received films at Sundance last year and sold to territories worldwide. I look forward to seeing how international audiences react to these new films and wish the filmmaking teams the very best of luck.”

Speaking on the selection, Director Barrett commented that “It’s such an honour and privilege to take this film to Sundance. To be in competition at Sundance, really is something special.”

Producer Ed Guiney is “delighted to be bringing Glassland to Sundance. I can’t think of a better place to launch Gerard’s brilliant film to the world. And Element are delighted to be returning to the festival as it marks our sixth film at Sundance since 2009 when we presented Liam Neeson in Five Minutes of Heaven, followed by The Guard in 2011, Shadow Dancer and This Must be the Place in 2012 and last year we held the world premiere of Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank there.”