Program Change for Saturday

The Capital Irish Film Festival regrets to announce that the film "Poison Pen" scheduled to be shown at 3:30 on Saturday, March 5, at "live at 10th and G" will not be screened. Copies of the film failed to arrive for the festival.

In its place on the program will be:

“Ireland: The Birth of a Nation” is a documentary by historian Gerard McCarthyabout the revolutionary period that led up to the Easter Rising and eventually to civil war. 

The film contains some of the earliest footage of Dublin, 1897, by the Lumiere brothers. It  also shows Padraig Pearse’s oration at the graveside of O’DonovanRossa in 1915. The speech ended with Pearse making a call to arms eight monthsbefore the Easter Rising. Directed by Gerard McCarthy.

The Capital Irish Film Festival will continue with films from Northern Ireland at 5:30 and 8 p.m., as well as scheduled, "Saturday Shorts", at 1 p.m.

Thank you for your understanding,

Solas Nua/The Capital Irish Film Festival

Together In Pieces Interview

Answers by David Dryden and Eileen Walsh

Why this movie? What drew you in about this story, and why do you think it needed to be told?

The historic city walls in Derry are being used as an unsanctioned political billboard for dissident republicans or factions of a republican nature. The graffiti on these walls stands tall in large white letters overlooking a predominantly Catholic area of the city- the Bogside, the immediate area where Bloody Sunday took place.  The graffiti reads ‘END INTERNMENT’ or ‘UK NO WAY’ and more recently a commemoration to the death of the radical socialist Paddy Bogside. 

As Eileen Walsh and myself both live and work in and around Derry we wondered why these messages were left up and not removed, especially considering their inciting nature and the negative social influence they bring to an already highly politicized area.

We wanted to know what visitors and locals felt about this graffiti. Walking past it either for the first time, or every day, we wondered if it was right that children, teenagers and adults of either denomination be exposed to these messages in a publicly shared space and what effect it has on creating a peaceful future.

It seems that this low level sectarianism is being ingrained into the minds of the city’s youth by this type of graffiti. Young people are especially easy targets for politicization and getting to them young is the best way to perpetuate a divided society.  This is something that the majority do not want so we questioned why we are still being bullied by these slogans. The city’s youth haven’t a chance.

About how many groups are there? Aside from marking their territory, what is it these groups, like the RUC, want to do or hope to accomplish with their graffiti?

There are a multitude of groups from both Republican and Loyalist factions; IRA, INLA, UVF, UDA and UFF, being the main ones. 

Often graffiti will tout ‘We haven’t gone away ’ which seems to denote that despite the peace agreement, these paramilitary  groups are still a threat, which ultimately is showing defiance to any political ground made in Stormont, advocating a righteous refusal to partake in joint talks based on a sense of entitlement of land or beliefs in a united Ireland.  Often political parties such as Sinn Fein ( now in government) are considered ‘sell outs’, particularly by dissidents opposed to the peace process. The graffiti, maintained predominantly in urban areas, is a finger up to the establishment and the police force which serves them.

It is also important to realize that it is also very much perpetuated due to the memory of past tragedies. It can be argued that these deaths are being used to incur sympathy and a vote for a group’s cause; ‘Remember the 14’.

It could be that the graffiti sets out to embed a sense of political unity within the community.  Historically persecuted under British rule and its police force the PSNI (formally the RUC), this idea is perpetuated.  These public adverts serve as a show of strength for people whose alternative views have no political representation and who feel like their identity is being eroded away.

Some of the graffiti is a clear show of strength and defiance, for example by writing over the Derry walls, which themselves are a symbol of Protestant plantations in Ireland.  Graffiti is left on these walls because the local council can’t get workers to clean it up for 2 reasons; they will be attacked and also if cleaned up, the graffiti goes straight back up.

Some graffiti has included a twitter address ‘#32CSM’ so there are clear goals to direct people online.

The graffiti often is clearly intimidating, and is there to deter residents from neighborhoods close by from entering or to make them feel unwelcome. It also serves to antagonize the police force which is still seen by many to be an occupying force.

Why do some kids who graffiti not understand what the IRA is, even today?  Are they unwilling to know?

There is a complete systematic failure to educate children about the Troubles. It is an area of history not taught at schools. Schools are largely segregated and this is a big problem. Any education children get often will be from family and people in the (ghetto) neighborhoods first. They will hear stories and obviously form opinions.

These opinions are also coloured by the history of partition itself, as well as by their political landscape, and the murals, sectarian graffiti, lack of social opportunities and high unemployment they see every day in their neighbourhood.

Children are politicized from an early age without seeing the bigger picture or getting to hear opinions from other sides.  Our film proves that their opinions change quickly when exposed to less bigoted versions from open minded elements in society.

Michael Doherty talks about the losses the Protestants are experiencing.  What are the losses they are dealing with? Why are they experiencing these losses, especially in these times? Why do the Catholics not recognize or understand the losses of the Protestants?

Michael Doherty was a hugely interesting interviewee with a wealth of personal experience through his years of work in peace and reconciliation. In Together in Pieces he talks about the sense of loss felt by Protestants through the Peace Process. He talks about how many Protestants feel a sense of isolation and abandonment through the loss of many things that they hold dear.

After partition, Protestants in Northern Ireland held the majority of seats in government, and with this came massive inequalities in economic, cultural and political representation between Catholics and Protestants, with the majority of Catholics living in poverty. Since the Troubles and the peace agreement and official recognition of these inequalities, these issues are still being addressed today.

The changes that have been taking place have been equal representation in government, so loss of the Protestant majority in government, and room for Republican parties such as Sinn Fein, who, were up until 1994 held to British broadcasting voice restrictions.

The loss of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) – a Protestant majority police force, is mentioned in the film. The RUC has been replaced by a new police service, the PSNI (Police Service Northern Ireland) and this strives to have equal representation from the Catholic community.

Cultural and social changes;  On December 3rd 2012  Belfast City Council voted to limit the days that the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom) flies from Belfast City Hall. This sparked violent protests from Unionists. 

After so many years of inequality, Catholics feel like the balance is only being set equal now for fair representation in Northern Ireland.  So for this reason, Catholics don’t understand Protestants’ sense of loss (at the flying of the Union Flag, the RUC etc.).  They don’t see this as a loss- instead they think that things shouldn’t have been this way to begin with.

Protestants are feeling their identity being eroded away, as these great symbols of their culture that once featured dominantly in the landscape are gone.

More importantly there is a lack of public education about these issues and little opportunity or interest in getting people to talk about these issues. This means neither side is ever fully informed about what is actually going on with the peace process. The media perpetuates this situation and too often is more interested in representing negative narratives, rather than reporting on any real change.

In the film Michael recognises the problems caused by the segregated education and housing systems in Northern Ireland and thinks that the two communities (nationalist and loyalist) don’t understand each other and don’t live together, co-existing in the same place in parallel worlds without actually living together.

In what way(s) do you see the landscape of Northern Ireland changing? Politically, culturally, etc.?  Is it becoming more radicalized or open-minded and accepting?

Northern Ireland is becoming more multi-cultural with large Indian and Chinese communities already established and this trend will continue to grow despite the social issues.  There will be no substantial changes to society between Catholic and Protestant communities unless the issue of segregated schools is addressed and until the so called ‘peace walls’ are removed.

Also political parties are not trying hard enough to work together – they are actively not working together on many issues, and the public cannot understand why they are doing this. This is setting a terrible example for our society and is perpetuating the division and misunderstanding.

The overwhelming problem is the high unemployment rate in Northern Ireland. If people have jobs and something to work for in society they will feel more accepted socially. And as they mix with other people from different backgrounds, there will be less chance of them wanting to get involved in radical movements.

There is still a sense of frustration that things are moving too slowly. People now want politicians to focus more on real issues like the economy and jobs, more on the issues that unite people and less on the issues that divide. 

The brightest hope at the moment in Northern Ireland for young people is from graffiti art workshops. City centres are increasingly the focal point for artistic graffiti murals. This colourful street art not only helps to brighten up city centres, making them more welcoming.  It also helps to combat anti-social graffiti, helping to change the attitudes of people living there, while also uplifting mindsets and allowing more creativity into mainstream society.

Do you think the “graffiti movement” foments these changes, embodies or reflects them, or both? 

Graffiti art is non-political by definition. This philosophy is upheld by most artists.  This is a great starting block to base the movement from and to help initiate positive social change, especially in a country so fundamentally divided by politics. Young people here are tired of this political division.

Walls will reflect what you put on them into the mind of the viewer. Similarly, what is in the mind of the artist who paints is projected onto the wall – if the message is positive, then one cannot help but be filled with a positive vision. If the message is negative however, the viewer will be filled with negativity. It sounds very basic but this visual stimuli has a profound effect on one’s mental health. It is primal, and it is proven to be the catalyst to changing mindsets.


The Capital Irish Film festival welcomes visiting filmmakers

This year’s Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF) is the tenth presented by Solas Nua. Nothing testifies to the cumulative power of consistent high-quality programming like the increasing number of filmmakers who join us at the screening of their films. In 2016, through the generous support of Culture Ireland, we will have five filmmakers on hand for the screening of their films and Q and A’s after. For the first time we will be hosting a director from Northern Ireland.

Kicking off the festival is “Older Than Ireland” directed by Alex Fegan and produced by Garry Walsh. Both will be at the post-screening talk Thursday, March 3, at the E Street Cinema. Also the director of the popular “The Irish Pub,” Fegan is fast becoming Ireland’s premier chronicler of its social history.

Producer Rachel Lysaght will also be joining CIFF for two of her films. ‘Traders”, which shows at 8 p.m. March 4 at the U.S. Navy Heritage Center, is a dark comedy about what happens when cut-throat capitalists get really desperate. “One Million Dubliners”, a documentary on the Glasnevin Cemetery, was voted Best Irish Film 2014 by Irish Times readers. It will show at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market. Lysaght will take questions after each film.

Paddy Hayes, director of the darkly hilarious docudrama “Name Your Poison”, will take questions after its screening on Friday March 4. A film and TV documentarian, Hayes has recreated an incredible tale out of the U.S. depression era.

Director Eileen Walsh of Derry, Northern Ireland, will be at CIFF for the World Premiere of her short documentary “Together in Pieces”, which will show as part of the Double Feature Saturday, March 5, at “Live at 10th and G” Northwest. She will also be at reception hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau.

Finally, Donncha Gilmore, director of the short musical “Bonsoir Luna”, will be at its screening with the Saturday Shorts on March 5 at 1 p.m. This film continues CIFF’s tradition of offering films in the Irish language.

See the Filmmaker blog at for more interviews and information on visiting artists.

The Capital Irish Film Festival welcomes Director Eileen Walsh

Solas Nua is delighted to announce that Eileen Walsh will be on hand for the Capital Irish Film Festival. Ms. Walsh is an emerging film producer, director and multi-disciplinary artist as well as an award-winning broadcaster. She is the co-founder with David Dryden of Foxwall Films in Derry, Northern Ireland. “Together in Pieces”, which was commissioned by the Community Relations Council, is a 25-minute documentary about the changing landscape of Northern Ireland, seen through the prism of graffiti and murals, which have a long tradition there. It will show for the first time on the festival circuit as part of the “Double Feature” on Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. at  “Live at 10th and G” in Northwest. Ms. Walsh will do a Q and A after the screenings.  She is Chairperson of the Cultural Partnership Forum and Vice Chair of CCA (Centre for Contemporary Art) in Derry-Londonderry. She is also a  critic for the theatrical publication The Stage.

WIFV Happy Hour at Hill Country Barbecue in advance of TRADERS Screening at Capital Irish Film Festival

Friday, March 4, 2016 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Hill Country Barbecue Market

410 7th St NW

Washington, DC 20004

Register Here

TRADERS will screen at the Naval Heritage Center at 8:00 pm and was produced by Rachel Lysaght, an award-winning film and TV producer who is the chair of Women in Film & Television Ireland.  You can get tickets for TRADERS here

Rachel Lysaght, producer of “Traders” and “One Million Dubliners”, to guest at CIFF

Rachel Lysaght, an award-winning film and television producer and the chair of Women in Film & Television International in Ireland, will be a guest at The Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF). She is a graduate of the European EAVE and international TAP programmes and the Samuel Beckett School of Drama in Trinity College, Dublin.

Rachel’s recent producing credits include two films that will show at CIFF. “Traders” (March 4, 8 p.m., Navy Heritage Center) and “One Million Dubliners” (March 6, 4 p.m., Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market). Rachel will take questions after the showing of both of her films.

Rachel played an integral part in the national distribution of “One Million Dubliners”. It trended #1 on Twitter before being voted Best Irish Film 2014͛ by The Irish Times readers.  She has also produced “Patrick’s Day” which was chosen as Best Film of 2015 by The Irish Times readers. Her other credits include “Dreams of Life” and “The Pipe”.

Internationally, Rachel’s productions have been selected for many prestigious awards and festivals, including the Cinema for Peace Award, Grierson Awards, SXSW, Berlinale, IDFA and TIFF, and have cumulatively won over 56 recognized industry awards across four continents.  Within Ireland her work has received 6 IFTA Awards (Irish Film & Television Award) and the Human Rights Film Award, Irish Council for Civil Liberties.   

As founder and Lead Creative Producer of Underground Films, Rachel has participated in official international pitching, financing and co-production forums in France, Italy, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and the U.K.  She has produced content for Channel 4, RTÉ, TG4, BBC, NRK Norway, TSR Switzerland, as well as UK Film Council, British Film Institute, Film Agency Wales and Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board.

An important part of Underground Films’ focus includes the fostering and development of new talent while building upon and maintaining strong relationships with Writers and Directors.  Rachel plays an integral role in the creative development of feature drama and documentary projects, including her own writing work; “Hostage to the Devil” (feature documentary 2016); “Savage Heart” (feature drama) and “Knock” (feature documentary 2016).  

Rachel is a current nominee for the Michael Dwyer Discovery Award at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Behind the Scenes - Blood Fruit

Sinead O’Brien has made a career in non-fiction writing and documentaries. We asked her what drew her to the subject of this award-winning film.

Q: Can you tell us about the background of the film “Blood Fruit”?

Sinead--Blood Fruit is a documentary film set in the 1980's, when Apartheid was at its height and millions of black South Africans were living under the brutal regime. While governments around the world refused to sanction this economically rich and influential country, one young shop worker from Dublin, Mary Manning, decided to take a stand by refusing to register the sale of two (South African) Outspan grapefruits.  What at first appeared to be an insignificant action quickly escalated into a mass protest that spanned over three years. Blood Fruit is a timely and hopefully inspiring film that shows us when ordinary people decide take a stand against those in power change can be brought about. 

Q:  How did you get involved in the project or did the project start with you?

Sinead--Noel Pearson, the producer, had been thinking about making the project for a while and asked me to get involved.  I did some initial research and was intrigued that something so hugely significant has more or less been written out of history. But it was when I met the strikers that my mind was made up--their determination and passion as regards international human rights and the struggle in South Africa seems to put value on a human life before economic and self-serving political decisions. It seems as relevant, if not more, now as it was back then.  

Q: How long have you been working on the project?

Sinead--In all about two years from the starting point of research to raising the finance to finally completing the project earlier this summer.   The process of documentary making can be a long one so I would often have a couple of projects on the go.

Q: What really excites, inspires or motivates you about documentary film?

Sinead--The things that excite and motivate me most about documentary making is the fact that you have a starting point but you never know quite where the story is going to until close to the end.  Unlike fiction stories there is no script--the story is drawn together gradually and you will have aspects of the narrative changing and unfolding all the way through the process.  What inspires me most is meeting new people with real and often difficult stories to tell.  This is a business that you will never make you rich but at the same time you will never be left feeling bored or dissatisfied.

Q: Who do you think will enjoy the movie you have directed?

 Sinead--I think anybody who has a genuine regard for those who are suffering or lacking in society both in Ireland and around the world.  I would also like to think it will inspire anyone who respects the action of the underdog against those in power and hopefully give the individual some kind of motivation to do the same--no matter how small or insignificant their action may be, it could help to bring about change for themselves and others.

Sinead O’Brien will be among Solas Nua’s special guests at the Capital Irish Film  Festival from Feb. 5 through Feb. 8, when “Blood Fruit” plays on the closing night. She will join us for an audience reception at the Goethe-Institut after the show. Get your tickets at Eventbrite

Behind the Scenes – Gold

Gold” director Niall Heery, whose film opens the ninth Capital Irish Film Festival, talks about what it takes to bring big name actors to the screen and deliver a comic favorite.

Q: You have a couple of big names in the cast of Gold-- was it tough to get them on board?

Niall--Casting is rarely straightforward. It helps if you've got a good casting director. In our case John and Ros Hubbard did a great job. Maisie (Williams) and James (Nesbitt) happened pretty quickly. With James, we made him an offer and then I was talking to him within 24 hours. Maisie just did a great audition and that made the decision very easy. David Wilmot is someone whose work I respected. I had just seen him in “Shadow Dance”,’ which I thought he was great in, so I arranged to meet him. We spoke at length about the role and he just connected with the character in a way that felt very truthful.

Q:  You wrote the screenplay with your brother Brendan. Does your own family experience find its way into the film?

Niall--Not specifically no, it’s not autobiographical in any way. That said, I think when you’re writing any relationship, it does involve a certain amount of self-reflection because you’re trying to understand human beings, you’re trying to understand other people’s struggles and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to find the truth of those situations within yourself, which is hopefully universal.

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for Nesbitt's character? 

Niall--I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, but early on we had this idea about a guy who feels very insecure when his kid’s biological father turns up and totally over-compensates as a result. When Ray comes back, Nesbitt’s world begins to fall apart but he doesn’t really have the emotional tools or emotional insight to realise what exactly is going on. He just assumes that he’s under attack,  which isn’t really the case. I remember thinking if all of his scenes were battles, I wanted him to lose them all. He’s a bit like a duck floating on water and trying to look composed but kicking like crazy underneath to try and stay afloat.

Q: What's your most memorable moment on set?

Niall--I’m not sure there’s a single isolated moment. In principle, just watching your cast bring something you wrote to life is very rewarding. When you’re writing, it’s effectively just a role you’re creating. So when you hand it over to an actor who breathes life into it and it suddenly becomes a real person--that’s a pretty great feeling.

Q: What project(s) are you currently working on? 

Niall--We’re always working on a handful of ideas. We have two scripts we’re working on right now, one is a big-budget American film that we’re doing with the production company who produced “Gold” and”Small Engine Repair” and then we have a smaller comedy we’d love to do towards the end of the year.

Niall Heery will be among Solas Nua’s special guests at the Capital Irish Film Festival on Feb. 5, when “Gold” opens the festival. He will join us for an audience meet and greet at the E Street Cinema after the show. Get your tickets at Eventbrite 

--Colette Breen

Behind the Scenes - A Terrible Beauty

A Terrible Beauty” producer Dave Farrell and actor Colin Farrell take a very personal view of history in a film that has evolved into a living history project.

 Q: Dave and Colin, filmmaking seems to be a family affair for the Farrells. How did this come about?

 Dave-- Long story, but I will give you the short version.  I had retired at 50, too early, from a completely unrelated business and was looking for something else to do, preferably in the arts. Simultaneously, my brother Keith decided to go to film school in Bournemouth having worked as a journalist.

 Colin--I always had a strong interest in films and my cousin and I used to play around with making little action movies when we were young. So when the time came for me to choose what to do in college, it felt natural to enroll in a film production course.

 Dave--So I decided to follow in their footsteps!  It has been a great privilege to work with both of them on various productions over the last 7 or 8 years.

Q: “A Terrible Beauty” tells the story of the Easter rebellion in Dublin in 1916 from a very personal perspective. Why did you use first-hand accounts to drive the story?

 Dave--We looked at various ways of telling the 1916 story and, in fact, the final film bore little resemblance to the original treatment. As we waded through statements given by various people in Ireland and the U.K., it became apparent that there were three sides to the story, as there always is in conflict--the two sets of combatants and the civilians caught in the middle. There was poignancy in the statements that brought to life what had happened. Using them, I think, brought us inside the events in a way that other forms of storytelling can’t.

Q: You ignored the leaders of the rebellion and the major location, the GPO in Dublin, why?

 Dave--The leaders and executed of 1916 have been well covered by other filmmakers and, in some cases, myths have been created about what happened. The reality was that the two most ferocious battles were the ones at Mount Street Bridge and North King Street. Militarily, they were also the most successful. Focusing on these two battles allowed us to tell the story from the ground up rather than the top down.

 Colin--The GPO is always seen as the major location for the rebellion but this isn't really the case at all. It was the headquarters for the rebels but, in terms of actual fighting, there were other locations which saw much more action than the GPO. In reality, the insurrection was spread out widely across the city.

Q: “A Terrible Beauty” has become a living history project that you direct, Colin. Tell us about “A Terrible Beauty 1916-2016” and how it evolved. 

 Colin--When it came to promoting the film ahead of its first TV airing on TG4 (Irish language channel) last April, I was looking at interesting ways to add to what we had done with the film and maybe generate a little publicity for it. I thought it would be nice to tell some more little known stories about the 1916 Rising.

 Dave--In a 90-minute feature docudrama, we can only tell a small number of the great stories we unearthed. We were approached by various people who had either seen the film or had heard about what we had done. Some of the families we already knew from our research, others brought us new stories.         

 Colin--After it aired, we started to get a lot of emails from family members eager to tell the story of their relative’s involvement. We quickly realized that these were important stories that needed to be told and that prompted us to start the living history project

Dave--This work has now taken over our lives, at least until 2016 and maybe beyond. So we set up an online portal where the families of 1916 participants could tell their stories

Dave and Colin Farrell will be among Solas Nua’s special guests at the Capital Irish Film  Festival from Feb. 5 through Feb. 8, when “A Terrible Beauty” closes the festival. They will join us for an audience meet and greet at the Goethe-Institut after the show. Get your tickets at Eventbrite

--Pat Reilly, CIFF director