Irish Film London have unveiled their biggest ever line-up for their 2022 festival, coming in November.
With a selection of new Irish films- features and shorts, drama and documentary- and a move to West End venues indicates their big ambitions for this, the eleventh Irish Film Festival London (IFFL).
Established in 2011, the Irish Film Festival London is the UK’s largest celebration of Irish film and audiences can join the festivities across West and Central London.
This year’s programme sees it return to Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios for many events this year, but also takes up residence in West End venues such as Vue Cinemas in Piccadilly while the opening night promised at Vue West End, in the heart of London’s Leicester Square.
Screenings will also take place at the brand new art-deco Garden Cinema in Covent Garden and Bloomsbury’s Bertha Dochouse, nestled in the Curzon Bloomsbury, while the festival’s mainstay awards ceremony will once again return to the Embassy of Ireland in Victoria.
This year’s festival will also include live performances that will take place across the festival period, and include live music, spoken word and dramatic performances at Riverside Studios throughout the festival period.
Gerry Maguire, Director of Irish Film London, told The Irish World: “It’s a big program which is exciting in and of itself.
“But I think for me the most exciting element is the fact that we’re so central.
“We’re in the West End for a lot of our screenings and just excited to be able to bring Irish film into the centre of the city, which is where I think it deserves to be.
“2022 once again offered us an incredibly strong showing from Irish filmmaking talent, so we’re truly excited to bring it to audiences across the West End and West London for our biggest event of the year. As Irish film continues on its upward trajectory, IFL is the premiere destination for Irish film experiences for audiences in the city of London and beyond.”
The festival opens on Wednesday 16 November with its opening gala event – a special preview of Frank Berry’s Aisha, starring Black Panther’s Leitita Wright and The Crown’s Josh O’Connor.
Aisha is a social issue drama tackling direct provision, which often results in individuals and families becoming stuck in limbo for months or years on end.
Gerry says: “I have to say Josh gives a very convincing (Irish) accent.
“Both his and Letitia’s performances in Aisha are really incredible. I think it’s a very special film.
“It’s directed by Frank Berry who would have made films like Michael Inside previously.
“He’s very much a social issue film maker and it’s a humanising story about direct provision, which can be often quite dehumanising.
“We’re very proud to be opening with a social issue film that we hope will make an impact and hopefully, in some small way, by featuring it as the opening film, we’re making a small statement and putting people’s attention on it, making sure that filmmakers like Frank Berry that have something to say, are in the spotlight.”
The festival’s Closing Gala at Riverside Studios on Sunday 20 November will see the latest Irish-language film to be released in Irish cinemas, Róise & Frank.
“It’s a lovely, gentle family friendly comedy, which I think is important to have as a closing film.
“I think we have a feeling that we always want to close the festival on a positive note, and celebrate everything that’s good and positive and happy about Irish culture and film experiences.”
Irish language cinema has seen a resurgence in recent years. In fact their last festival was opened by Arracht, another Irish-language hit.
“There is definitely a bit of a cultural resurgence in it.
“It has a lot to do with the fact that these films exist.
“And these films exist because there are supports available from the funders and decision makers in Ireland to make them happen.
“It’s lovely to see it, and it’s lovely to be able to share film culture experiences with audiences that are in the Irish language, as well as the English language.
“And in some cases in this programme in other languages as well.
“There’s Irish filmmakers included in the programme that have made films all over the world and with people all over the world. So it’s really a very international outward looking programme, I think.”
Róise & Frank is not the only Irish language film on the programme as there is another chance to see the breakout hit An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), which was the winner of the festival’s Audience Choice selection.
“We basically canvassed all of our followers and newsletter subscribers.
“We gave them a shortlist of three films and said, ‘Which one do you want to see at the festival?’
“The Quiet Girl was the winner of that by a mile, by a long way.
“There’s still a lot of love for that film, despite the fact that so many people would have seen it and we’re really happy that that’s the case because we didn’t get a chance to do an IFL screening of it earlier this year.
“I mean, it’s a real breakout success.”
The programme also includes previews of Cannes Film Festival winner Aftersun, from debut director Charlotte Wells, featuring Normal People’s Paul Mescal.
Aftersun is seen through the eyes of Calum (Mescal) and his daughter Sophie (played by newcomer Frankie Corrio) in a film which explores memories real and imagined, filling the gaps between as Sophie tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.
“Aftersun is a gorgeous film that was in the London Film Festival, it was at Cannes, it was at a lot of big festivals this year.
“And Paul’s a young father to an incredible child actor called Frankie Corrio. He’s only 10 or 11 years old.
“It’s a very, very touching, soft performance from him.
“It’s a very much a ‘show, don’t tell’ kind of film.
“It’s going to have a big release on the movie platform not long after the preview screening we’re doing and we’re very excited about that because there’s a lot of buzz in the industry about that film.
“And there’s a lot of love for Paul of course, as well.”
Other narrative films included in the festival programme include Dónal Foreman’s playful look at Irish mythology through the eyes of a foreigner in The Cry of Granuaile, featuring Dale Dickey (A League of Their Own) and the UK premiere of Dublin set comedy Bicycle Thieves: Pumped Up, as well as a family matinee screening of classic Irish film War of The Buttons, which will include the festival’s usual craft workshop courtesy of Kabutar Arts.
Documentaries at this year’s festival include titles selected from across the spectrum of Ireland’s creative documentary landscape.
Selected films include North Circular, from director Luke McManus, exploring life for people on Dublin’s North Circular Road through the music that connects them, Million Dollar Pigeons from Gavin Fitzgerald – an incredible look at the global sport of competitive pigeon fancying, where birds really do sell for upwards of a million dollars.
Also included is brand new documentary Paul Muldoon: Laoithe is Lirici (Paul Muldoon: A Life in Lyric and Song), which explores the poet and songwriter’s life and work through performances by some of Ireland’s most loved names, including Stephen Rea, Van Morrison, Bono and The Edge, Ruth Negga, and many more.
The festival programme also includes some recent favourites, like a special retrospective screening of Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, in celebration of the release of McDonagh’s new film The Banshees of Inisherin, which reunites Brendan Gleeson with festival patron Colin Farrell.
IFFL 2022 also features some exclusive online content, including the Limerick set documentary Out of Place from director Graham Patterson.
Featuring performances from Denise Chaila, God Knows, Hey Rusty, His Father’s Voice, MuRli, and Post Punk Podge & the Technohippies, Out Of Place is an intimate portrayal of a local music scene, capturing the incredible diversity of cultural activity happening in Limerick City.
There will also be 27 short films from emerging filmmakers, alongside some of Ireland’s better-known cinematic talents.
As always, the festival includes plenty of opportunities for those who are interested in the Film and TV industry to learn more, and network with fellow enthusiasts and professionals. This year, the industry events takes place at the Irish Cultural Centre in London’s Hammersmith. Attendees can expect to hear from directors, producers, writers, actors and industry professionals who are there to offer advice and insights which will provide a helping hand to anyone looking to move up in the industry.
Events will focus on funding, getting your film selected at festivals, writing for the screen and a special session focused on casting featuring casting legend Ros Hubbard and director of Bow Street Academy, Shimmy Marcus.
“We’ve got a very tightly curated industry programme this year.
“The industry programme is very important to us.
“What we want to do is support the next generation of filmmakers, Irish or otherwise, but highlight the strengths of the Irish film industry and the talent that’s available to it.
“Our industry programme this year is a small number of events, which are geared towards supporting all filmmakers.
“Our hope is that the sessions we’re running will help to give people a bit of a step up in their careers one way or another.
“That’s something that’s a real key part of the festival programme for us this year because the film programme is one thing, but helping filmmakers to grow and get something out of their festival experience is just as important to us.”
Now in its 12th year, Irish Film London’s patrons include Saoirse Ronan, Colin Farrell, Fiona Shaw, Lenny Abrahamson, Moe Dunford and Ros Hubbard.
The organisation runs events through the year, including UK Premieres, workshops, the film arm of the Embassy of Ireland’s St. Brigid’s Day Festival in February, and the St. Patrick’s Film Festival under the umbrella of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival with the Mayor of London and the annual Irish Film London Awards.
“We’re growing because the sector itself, I mean Irish film in general, is growing as a force to be reckoned with.
“And it’s all testament to the filmmakers, and the powers that be in Ireland making film happen.
“And we’re just here to celebrate the stuff that’s being created.
“We’re growing because the sector is growing as a whole. And we’re very happy to see it.”
Irish Film Festival London runs Wednesday 16th November – Sunday 20th November 2021 Vue Leicester Square, Vue Piccadilly, Riverside Studios, Garden Cinema and Bertha Dochouse.
To book and for more information, click here.