By Shelley Marsden
FILM fans flocked to events during the third edition of the Irish Film Festival London, now in its third edition, which drew to a close at the ICA on Sunday with a screening of Niall McCann’s acclaimed documentary, Art Will Save the World.
Festival founder, Howth-born Kelly O’Connor said there were lots of highlights but one of the most pleasant surprises was the popularity of the Irish language documentary double bill on Saturday.
Screenings of Lón sa Spéir / Men At Lunch and An Bhean A Shiuil Trasna Mheiricea / The Woman Who Walked Across America were followed by the first Irish English bilingual Q&A in a London film festival, with live translation from award-winning Irish poet Danny Sheehy.
“Danny was astounding with his lyrical ability to switch between languages and keep the momentum of the session going, allowing our native speakers for the first time in London to speak in their native tongue in public in a warm friendly, environment.”
There were also an unprecedented number of UK premieres at the festival for Rubai, The Irish Pub, Men and Women, Life’s A Breeze, Lon Sa Speir, What Remains and Run and Jump.
The reason, says Kelly, is for the most part down to their sponsorship by the Irish Film Board: “The IFB’s support gave us a gravitas which may not have been possible otherwise. Producers and distribution companies trust that the level we deliver will be in keeping with what they would hope for their film.
“In addition, the IFB’s budget was cut this year, and they had to withdraw backing from a lot of film festivals – we’re one of only three Irish international film festivals still funded, together with New York and LA. That was a huge vote of confidence in us – and I think everyone’s done themselves proud. Here’s to next year!”