CIFF 2019 Audience Talks Back

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A record number of filmgoers attended the 13th annual Capital Irish Film Festival last weekend at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. Almost 500 audience members gave us written feedback on their impressions of the Festival films.

The Drummer and The Keeper, Director Nick Kelly and Producer Kate McColgan, and I, Dolours, Director Maurice Sweeney and Producers Ed Moloney and Nuala Cunningham tied for Audience Favorite. Second in the voting for Audience Favorite was Lomax in Eirinn and the third was Float Like a Butterfly.

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Among the 6 short films in that category, The Invention, Director Leo McGuigan and Producer Margaret McGoldrick, was the Audience Favorite. The second place among short films was Gra e Eagla (Love and Fear in Irish) and third place was Late Afternoon.

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You can help your favorite films from the Festival find U.S. distribution by going to and rating them there.

Look for our bi-monthly Irish Popcorn! films throughout the year (“Keepers of the Flame” on May 6, 2019, at NYU DC campus 13 and L Sts. NW) and Save The Date for 14th annual CIFF 2020 at AFI, February 28, 29 and March 1, 2, 2020.

The Capital Irish Film Festival Starts Today!

Feb 28-Mar 3. AFI Silver is excited to host the 13th Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF), co-presented by Solas Nua. Celebrating Irish identity, culture and artistry, CIFF brings the best in contemporary Irish cinema to the Washington, DC, area.

The festival opens with Nick Kelly's crowd-pleasing dramedy THE DRUMMER AND THE KEEPER and closes with stirring documentary LOMAX IN ÉIRINN, a look at American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax's role in preserving Ireland's folk music heritage. Other highlights include FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY, winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival; found-footage chiller THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY, with director Aislinn Clarke in attendance; and DON'T LEAVE HOME, Ireland's answer to GET OUT, with director Michael Tully in attendance; and highly anticipated horror THE HOLE IN THE GROUND, fresh from Sundance. Northern Irish actor Lalor Roddy (GAME OF THRONES) is set to attend the festival to discuss his roles in three of this year's selections – THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY, FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY and DON'T LEAVE HOME. CIFF is proudly supported by IFI International, Culture Ireland and Arts Council Ireland.




Post-screening Q&A with Dr. Todd Harvey, Folklife Specialist and Curator of the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress, and Paddy Meskell, Solas Nua Inc. Chairman of the Board, followed by a reception in the lobby sponsored by Solas Nua Inc.

Irish composer Pól Brennan explores how American song collector Alan Lomax came to Ireland on the first stop of a mission to save the folk music of the world. That trip resulted in the first LP of Irish traditional music - an album that sowed the seeds of the Irish traditional music revival in the 1970s. Lomax realized the music of the most marginalized people was as powerful as the highest form of art, and, inspired by two new inventions of the 1940s, he devised a plan to save the music of the world. (Note adapted from Galway Film Fleadh.) DIR/PROD Declan McGrath; SCR Felim MacDermott. Ireland, 2018, color, 52 min. NOT RATED

Oscar-Nominated Director Louise Bagnall Talks 'Late Afternoon' with IFTN

IFTN caught up with Cartoon Saloon’s Louise Bagnall to find out more about her Academy Award® nominated animated short film ‘Late Afternoon’ ahead of her trip to LA for the Oscars ceremony, which takes place on Sunday, February 24th.

By Nathan Griffin

Louise Bagnall & Nuria González Blanco

Louise Bagnall & Nuria González Blanco

Written and directed by Cartoon Saloon’s Louise Bagnall, and produced by Nuria González Blanco, the hand-drawn digitally animated film was produced by the Kilkenny-based animation studio behind Oscar-nominated animated features ‘The Secret of Kells’, ‘Song of the Sea’ and ‘The Breadwinner’. It was funded under the Screen Ireland and RTÉ joint-funded Frameworks short film scheme.

The 9.5 minute film is a poignant examination of identity and memory loss through the eyes of Emily, an elderly woman journeys into her past, reliving moments from her life and searching for connection within her fragmented memories. Renowned Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan, who worked with Cartoon Saloon on 2014’s ‘Song of the Sea’, voices the lead character, Emily. The music for the film is by Colm Mac Con Iomaire.

A Creative Director at Cartoon Saloon, Louise graduated from IADT, National Film School with a degree in Animation in 2007. She has designed characters for International Emmy nominee ‘Puffin Rock’ and worked on the Oscar-nominated features ‘Song of the Sea’ and ‘The Breadwinner’. She has directed a number of other short films including ‘Donkey’, ‘Loose Ends’ and ‘Cúl An Tí’. She is currently working as Assistant Director on Cartoon Saloon’s upcoming feature film ‘My Father's Dragon’, directed by Nora Twomey.

‘Late Afternoon’ won the IFTA Award for Best Animated Short in February 2018, and has gone on to screen at over 80 festivals worldwide to date, securing many further awards and an Oscar-qualifying win for Best Animated Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.

IFTN journalist Nathan Griffin spoke with Louise ahead of her trip to California.

Late Afternoon Director Louise Bagnall

Late Afternoon Director Louise Bagnall

IFTN: Congratulations on the Oscar nomination. You were over in LA last week and scheduled to head back again this week. How has the experience been since the news of the nomination?

Louise: “It's been pretty amazing. Very hectic, kind of overwhelming, but you can't really complain because you're getting to do things that you never even thought about before. Being able to go to the Oscar lunch and meet all the fellow nominees and going over to LA for these trips, it's not part of your normal working day. It's very exciting. It's also just the added attention that the film gets and then all the crew who worked on it and knowing that the film is getting a big reach. It's very exciting from that point of view, as well.”

IFTN: You have previously worked on features such as ‘The Breadwinner’ and ‘Song of the Sea’. How did the experience of working on your own project differ from previous projects you've worked on?

Louise: “On those previous ones, Breadwinner and Song of the Sea, I worked across different roles. On The Breadwinner, I worked as a character designer and things like that. For me, Late Afternoon was the first bigger project I made as a director in Cartoon Saloon. It wasn't my first time directing a short, but it was definitely the biggest project that I've undertaken myself. Obviously, making it in the Saloon meant that you were also getting the backing and the support from everybody here so that made a big difference too.”

“Really, the shift for me was working on those really big projects, like the feature films. That was a great learning opportunity and a chance to work with directors like Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey. That helps you to have the confidence then to go ahead and make your own directing and writing projects. That was actually a nice path for me, in getting to the short film.”

IFTN: It's an incredibly poignant subject matter. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind it?

Louise: “The reason I wanted to start making the film in the first place was really a desire to explore this inner life of a character, especially this woman who we learn about her life as she remembers it. Partly, the other inspiration, especially for the character herself, Emily, was probably coming from my own recollection of my own grandmothers.”

“They both passed away before I became an adult. In my own memories as a child, I remember them being these sweet, old ladies, but I didn't necessarily understand fully all the things that they had done in their life, or who they were before I was on the scene and things like that. I really wanted to just try and explore a bit more of what's hidden underneath the surface, in that sense, and the kind of life that people might have lived that you just don't know from the outside. You don't know from the outside unless you really dig in.”

IFTN: Fionnula Flanagan features as the voice of Emily in the film. How did she get involved in the project?

Louise: “Fionnula was fantastic. She did a voice on Song of the Sea. We had a contact for her based on that but it was still like we were reaching really for the biggest name we could. We really thought she would be a great fit for it, but we also weren't sure because we were just a little short film, but she was great. She was brilliant to work with. She came on board very early on.”

“Once I knew she was going to be the voice of the character, Emily, it was even easier for me to write that voice because in my mind, I could hear her saying it so she was great to work with and really felt like she brought a lot of warmth to the character and a lot of personality, just even in the small amount of dialogue that she had. It was great.”

IFTN: Late Afternoon has become the flagship for the Screen Ireland Frameworks scheme having come through its ranks. Can you tell me a little bit about how you and Nuria first decided to apply for the scheme and how you guys got together?

Louise: “Basically, I had the idea for the film maybe even two years before I applied for the Frameworks but I hadn't really pitched it to anybody and I hadn't put it together in any concrete form. Once I heard that the Frameworks deadline was coming up that year, I decided that I was ready. I did know what I wanted to do with this film. I was waiting until I was sure and I was sure.”

“What I did first was I pitched it to Cartoon Saloon, where I was working, just to see if they wanted to go in on the pitch with me as the production company. Because Nuria works here as well, then I approached Nuria and asked her if she wanted to be my producer. Actually, I pounced on her. I said, "Nuria, I really want you to be my producer for this project. Please do it for me." She said, "At least tell me what the project is first." I pitched her the project and she was really happy to come on board as the producer.”

“From then, we went in together. I wrote the script and she, obviously, helped with the production stuff for the application, but we did it. We probably did the full application in the space of two weeks. It doesn't have to be a long, elaborate process. I decided to write a script, for example, rather than doing a full storyboard because I thought if it works as a script then I know I'm not just relying on these nice visuals to make it work.”

“We tried to be clever about our use of time. Also, I knew what I wanted the film to be. I think that helps as well. I was really passionate about trying to get it made, but the Frameworks is great. It's really a fantastic avenue for people who want to make animated shorts because it's something that doesn't exist everywhere. It certainly made it possible for us to make this. I just don't know how we would have made it without the Frameworks.”

IFTN: Colm Mac Con Iomaire's score is fantastic and almost interacts like a character in itself. Can you tell me about the process of developing that music and how much of an importance you placed on it?

Louise: The music in the film is really, really so important. I always knew it would be. The film is relying on a lot of visuals in order for people to understand what's happening to Emily. We're trying to sell this feeling of floating and also going backwards and forwards in time. There was a lot of things that I knew that the music could help to get us to feel the right response at the right times. After we submitted the Frameworks application, we'd been thinking about who we could get for the music.”

“I had just been to see Colm Mac Con Iomaire playing in Kilkenny, actually. He was playing a gig there. In my mind, afterwards, I thought, "God, He'd be great because his music is beautiful and he has such emotions within the music. Without any lyrics, there's so much emotion in there." We managed to be able to get in contact with him shortly after. Amazingly, we were totally over the moon as he said he would be interested. When we got the funding, we brought him in and talked him through the project. By that stage, we had even more artwork and things to show him, he really understood what we were going for. He got what the project was really about.”

“While we were working on the production of the short, he started working on the music and he would send through samples of the music so we could get a feeling of where he was going with it. Every couple of months, we would send through an updated animatic and edit so that he could see, time-wise, where we were looking for the music and how long the film was and things like that.”

“We worked backwards and forwards a bit over the month of production. Then right towards the end, he came in and he made sure that the music was working with the final clip that we had and recorded it and got it mixed. He was just great to work with and the music came from him - I knew that I wanted the feeling that his music brought.”

IFTN: So the music was evolving throughout the development of the project.

Louise: “Yes, exactly. The main areas were the memories but then we were trying to figure out if we would have music going throughout the whole film or the music would come in and out. The music now, it really takes off when she's in the memories, but there is a tone and a musicality to some of the other scenes, but much lighter, much brighter.”

“It allowed the film to breathe a little bit. It also means that when you go into the memories and you can hear the music coming up, it gives you a sense of contrast and it gives you that feeling like it's about to start again and that's all very important.”

Cartoon Saloon’s ‘Late Afternoon’ will compete at the 91st Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, February 24th.

Actor Lalor Roddy to guest at the Capital Irish Film Festival

Lalor Roddy in  Don’t Leave Home

Lalor Roddy in Don’t Leave Home

Belfast native is star of many stages and screens large and small.

Irish Times theater critic Fintan O’Toole described Lalor Roddy a decade ago as ”surely the finest Irish actor of his generation” – that was before he broke into film in a big way. Now he might also be the busiest screen actor in Ireland. Followers of the Capital Irish Film Festival would have seen him in last year’s opening film “Zoo”, “Bad Day for the Cut,” “Maze” and “Made in Belfast.”

And unless you don’t subscribe to cable, you would know him as the Catspaw Assassin in the wildly successful HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

In the 13th annual Capital Irish Film Festival, you can catch up with Lalor Roddy in three films: “The Devil’s Doorway” (Friday), “Don’t Leave Home” (Saturday) and “Float Like a Butterfly” (Sunday). You will have the opportunity to ask him how he does it in audience talkbacks or in a quiet word at receptions during the festival.

See him with Solas Nua Chair Paddy Meskell on Thursday, February 28, on the popular morning talk show “Great Day Washington” with Markette Sheppard.

Lalor Roddy in  Game of Thrones

Lalor Roddy in Game of Thrones

Roddy, who trained and worked as a psychologist, took up acting relatively late, when he performed as Gandalf in a youth theatre production of The Hobbit at the age of 33. He has built a remarkable career on stage and screen – both big and small. He was a founder of Tinderbox, worked with the Lyric and Abbey theaters and several times with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He won the ESB/Irish Times Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part in In a Little World of Our Own.

Lalor Roddy in  The Devil’s Doorway

Lalor Roddy in The Devil’s Doorway


How Giving Up on My Movie Actually Made it a Reality

The writer-director of Don't Leave Home tells the frustrating, improbable story of how his fifth feature (finally) came to be.

By Michael Tully

Michael Tully

Michael Tully

My previous feature, Ping Pong Summer, world premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. I’m firmly convinced that if I had shown up in Park City ready to go with the script and cast for my follow-up project, Don’t Leave Home, we would have been in Ireland shooting the movie that fall. Alas, every piece — aside from the title and a desire to shoot in Ireland — was very much not in place, and so began a frustrating four-year journey. Considering I’d been dreaming of making Ping Pong Summer for 20 years before it finally happened, four years might seem like a quick little snap of the fingers. But when you’ve directed four features already and think your “career” should be getting at least somewhat easier along the way, four years feels like a soul-depleting eternity.

Let me start by taking a good bit of the blame here. My tendency has always been to put all of my energy into whichever individual project I’m most excited about. Meanwhile, anyone who has a successful “professional” filmmaking career will assure you that you better have something frying on all four burners — and baking in the oven — if you want to work consistently. On that count, allow me to plead: 100 percentguilty. (Note to aspiring filmmakers reading this, or slow-to-learn “veterans” such as myself: multiple burners is where it’s at!)

That said, I can’t take full responsibility for the film not coming together sooner. Initially, our plan was for a sturdy seven-figure budget and an A-list cast (sound familiar?), but as time went on, I and the rest of the producing team decided to take a different approach: let’s trust the material, cast the best actors for the part, and raise enough money needed to get the job done. That would make things easier!

Anna Margaret Hollyman in  Don’t Leave Home

Anna Margaret Hollyman in Don’t Leave Home

Or … not. It turns out that cobbling together even a few hundred thousand dollars for a not-really-horror “horror” movie isn’t the best shortcut to the bank. Having a third-act location that is a reflection of one character’s conscience and is labeled in the script as “The Dungeon Room” proves to be more confusing than convincing. And being fortunate enough to secure actors that are truly gifted performers but that don’t rank as highly in the invisible blue book doesn’t seal the fiscal deal. (Note to aspiring filmmakers reading this, or slow-to-learn “veterans” such as myself: stick to your guns and always cast the best actor for the part, no matter what that idiotic invisible blue book says!)

Back in 2014, we were lucky enough to receive development funds, which allowed me to write the script and also travel to Ireland to scout locations with my main producer George Rush and other producers and investors along the way. For the first few years, we were determined to shoot in Sligo, but that was outside the Dublin zone, which would have meant housing all the cast and crew and paying per diems and travel. Which is another way of saying: we didn’t have enough money to shoot in Sligo.

Until the spring of 2017, we didn’t have enough money to shoot anywhere. Anytime in those first few years when the film felt close to happening, one of our attached producers at the time — who was tasked with raising half of the budget — expressed a nonchalant arrogance that the money was already in the bank. But when deadline day arrived … zilch. It should be noted that this person was born into extreme privilege and didn’t understand how pushing the movie back several months actually was a big deal for someone like myself who didn’t have a trust fund or a full-time job (how could I commit to a full-time job when I was supposed to be in Ireland shooting a movie in the very near future?!) and who wasn’t a sociopath by nature and therefore felt sick to my stomach having to call several trusted collaborators who had turned down other work and tell them, yet again, that I was deeply sorry but the movie was not, in fact, happening.

Michael Tully on a film set

Michael Tully on a film set

There’s that infamous saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” In our case, it took more than thrice before I finally reached my snapping point. I told George that I would rather never direct another movie than have a poisonous presence on our team in anycapacity — it didn’t matter how much money someone was bringing to the table. As desperate as he was to raise the money and make our movie, George finally agreed. (Note to aspiring filmmakers reading this, or slow-to-learn “veterans” such as myself: trust your instincts when choosing producers, investors, crew, or cast; if your gut is catching a stiff whiff of poison, turn and run for fresher, healthier air!)

This was in the fall of 2016. I had just returned from Ireland, where I’d been interviewing potential crew members, and was preparing to return there in just a few short weeks in order to finally make this movie once and for all … only I wasn’t. We didn’t have the money we needed. The shoot wasn’t happening that fall. But, more than that, I felt something deeper: the movie wasn’t happening at all. I called George, and to my surprise, he conceded. Even his stubborn optimism had been buried in the bog. We both knew it. George called the Irish producing team at Subotica Films with whom we had partnered — and become genuinely good friends — over the course of the past few years. He told Tristan Orpen Lynch that all of our work was for naught. The money wasn’t there. The project was dead. On a whim, Tristan asked, “Well, how much could you raise?”

Aislinn Clarke is the first Irish woman to write and direct a feature horror film and it looks terrifying

Aislinn Clarke

Aislinn Clarke

Meet Aislinn Clarke, a filmmaker, scriptwriter, and lecturer at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast.

Clarke's first feature film - which holds the dual distinction of being the first feature horror film written and directed by an Irish woman - will be released in the US by IFC on July 13, and it could not be more timely. 

The Devil's Doorway is based upon the very real horrors of Ireland's Magdalene Laundries, where, from 1765 to 1996, women who became pregnant outside of marriage were hidden away and subject to grueling labor and abuse by the Catholic Church. 

Per the official movie description: 

What unholy terrors lurk behind the walls of a secretive Irish convent? Northern Ireland, 1960: Father Thomas Riley (Lalor Roddy) and Father John Thornton (Ciaran Flynn) are dispatched by the Vatican to investigate reports of a miracle—a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood—at a remote Catholic asylum for “immoral” women. Armed with 16mm film cameras to record their findings, the priests instead discover a depraved horror show of sadistic nuns, satanism, and demonic possession. Supernatural forces are at work here—but they are not the doing of God. Inspired by the infamous true histories of Magdalene Laundries—in which “fallen women” were held captive by the Irish Catholic Church—this found footage occult shocker is a chilling encounter with unspeakable evil.

Clarke was recently in New York to speak at the New York, New Belfast conference on the future of Belfast and its creative industries. IrishCentral was lucky to have a few minutes to hear more about her journey as a filmmaker and what's next.

“Lost & Found”: A Seven-Year Journey

Lost & Found will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

Lost & Found will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

By Liam O Mochain, director/writer

“Lost & Found” is a feature film with seven interconnecting stories set in and around the lost and found office of an Irish train station. All segments are inspired by true stories, share a theme of something lost or found and have characters that come in and out of each other’s lives. It was filmed in seven segments of three to four days per annum over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016 in Ireland. I spent the first six months each year researching the stories and characters, three months working on the script and three months was spent on the production itself from prep, to filming to post work. A good part of the year was also spent looking for and raising money to cover the next film segment.

Each year, we brought in most of the key production team and core crew three to four weeks before the filming began, depending on how many segments were to be filmed. Each year’s segments were only done after the previous one or ones were paid for and finished. Doing it over this long period gave me a lot of time to think about all the different stories, characters and ways to interweave them together in the overall project. “Lost & Found” completed principal photography in Summer 2016 and post- production in April 2017.

The ensemble cast includes: Norma Sheahan (“Moone Boy”, “Handsome Devil”), Liam Carney (“Red Rock”, “Outlander”), Aoibhin Garrihy (“The Fall”), Anthony Morris (“Games of Thrones”), Liam O Mochain (“Covet”, “WC”), Seamus Hughes (“Jimmy’s Hall”), Olga Wehrly (“Without Name”), Brendan Conroy (“Vikings”), Barbara Adair (“Ripper Street”, “Grabbers”), Tom O Suilleabhan (“Maze”, “Fifty Dead Men Walking”), Diarmuid Noyes (“Borgia”, “Killing Bono”), Lynette Callaghan (“Cold Feet”), Daniel Costelloe (“Albert Nobbs”, “Magdalene Sisters”) and Donncha Crowley (“Fr. Ted”). The creative team behind “Lost & Found” are writer/director Liam O Mochain (“WC”, “The Book That Wrote Itself”), producer Bernie Grummell (“WC”, “The Book That Wrote Itself”), DoP Fionn Comerford (“Penny Dreadful”, “Vikings”, “Roy”), production designer David Wilson (“Omagh”, “Some Mother’s Son”), sound Niall O’Sullivan (“Frank”), Philippe Faujas (“Eden”, “Pure Mule”), make up and hair Caoimhe Arrigan (“Death of a President”, “Stella Street”), editor Ciara Brophy (Oscar-nominated “The Crush”, “Savage Eye”), 1st AD/Co Producer Eamonn Norris (“Ros na Run”) and composer Richie Buckley (“WC”, “The General”).


“Lost & Found” is O Mochain’s third feature film. He has also made numerous short films, documentaries and TV shows. His 2007 feature film “WC” won Best Foreign Film at Las Vegas International Film Festival and Best Film at the Waterford Film Festival. “WC” also screened at Montreal World Film Festival, Galway, Dublin, Arizona and the Cairo International Film Festival. His debut feature film “The Book That Wrote Itself”garnered a lot of international interest, had its world premiere at the 1999 Galway Film Fleadh, international premiere at the 1999 Vancouver International Film Festival and went on to acclaim at many film festivals worldwide. Fortune, his first short film, won best short film at the1998 Worldfest Houston International Film Festival. His short film “Covet” was long-listed for an academy award in 2013.

Lost & Found will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

Docudrama "I, Dolours" grew from a series of interviews

Dolours Poster.jpg

‘I, Dolours’ – The Backstory

By Ed Moloney

Ed Moloney will be interviewed by Niall Stanage, associate editor and White House columnist for The Hill, after the 5:45 p.m. showing of the film on Saturday, March 2, at the Capital Irish Film Festival.

The origins of this film on the life of the late Dolours Price – directed by Maurice Sweeney and produced by New Decade TV – lie in an interview that she gave to the Belfast daily, The Irish News in February 2010, in which she spoke, for the first time publicly, about her part in the saga of the IRA ‘disappeared’.

That interview set in motion a cascade of crises that culminated in an agreement between herself and myself in which she made a promise not to reveal any more about the ‘disappeared’. In return she would record her story on tape and video and it would not see daylight until she died. That way the truth could eventually be told without causing harm to herself.

The journey to that agreement was a long and complicated one, so for the purpose of brevity I will tell the story in bullet points:

  • For around three or four years I was the director of the Boston College Oral History Archive which was established in 2001 to collect and record interviews with participants in the Northern Ireland Troubles, primarily Republican and Loyalist activists;

  • I had been a journalist in Belfast until 2001, most recently for the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune. That year I moved to New York. In 2003, Penguin published my study of the IRA’s journey to the peace process, a book called ‘A Secret History of the IRA’;

  • Dolours Price was one of several former IRA members who I spoke to for the book. Amongst other things, she confirmed the existence and role of ‘the Unknowns’ and told me about the ‘disappeared’;

  • When the Boston archive was set up, Dolours Price agreed to give a series of interviews about her life and times in the Provisional IRA. Both myself and the researcher knew that she had been involved with ‘the Unknowns’ in taking people away to be ‘disappeared’;

  • Before the interviews began Dolours was given the opportunity to exclude subjects she did not wish to speak about at all or fully in her interviews, matters that she did not want her family to know about. She chose ‘the disappeared’ as one of those subjects.

  • In 2009, I was asked to write a book based upon interviews given to the archive by Brendan Hughes, a former Belfast commander of the IRA, a hunger striker and a onetime close friend of Gerry Adams. RTE and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland also accepted a proposal to make a documentary based on the book;

  • In late 2009 we approached Dolours Price in Belfast for an interview and she agreed. She and Brendan Hughes had been close comrades. Shortly afterwards I was contacted by a family member who told me that Dolours had been ill with PTSD. I was asked not to interview her and immediately agreed. There the matter would have ended but for events;

  • I have always believed that one event in particular pushed Dolours Price over the edge. In late 2009, the Belfast daily,The Irish News reported that the IRA had lied when it had admitted ’disappearing’ people during the Troubles. A list of victims prepared by the organisation, the paper reported, was incomplete. Missing was Joe Lynskey, the IRA’s chief of intelligence in Belfast and the first ‘disappeared’ victim to be driven across the Irish Border by Dolours Price;

  • Joe Lynskey was a friend of Dolours Price. He believed utterly in the IRA, believed he had been rightly sentenced to death and went willingly with Dolours across the Border. He could have escaped but didn’t. I think the reminder of all that disturbed her intensely and led to the next fateful step;

  • In February 2009, Dolours Price gave an interview about the ‘disappeared’ to The Irish News reporter who had broken the Lynskey story, but her family intervened with the editor to reduce the harm. I visited her in hospital that day only to learn that she had scheduled another interview, this time with The Guardian. Her family didn’t seem to know about this. I knew the journalist; he was good at his job. Nothing, it seemed, was going to stop her from telling her story to the world;

  • It was clear that a major effort would have to be made to stop her from a course that would be disastrous for her and her family;

  • So, I made the proposal that has led to this film. She could sit down and tell her story on tape and video; it would then be stored away until her death. Only then would the world hear what she had to say about that period – and I told her that if she predeceased me, and I was able, I would ensure that her story was told. She agreed;

  • Although subsequently she gave interviews to CBS and The Sunday Telegraph, Dolours Price never revealed publicly the full, untold story of the ‘disappeared’ which is disclosed in this documentary. She kept her word. And I have now kept mine;

The result is this film, ‘I, Dolours’.


Ed Moloney was Northern Editor of the Irish Times during the IRA hunger strikes of 1981 and

was Northern Editor of the Sunday Tribune during the peace process years which saw the IRA

end its campaign and decommission its weaponry.

In 1999 he was voted Irish journalist of the year for his coverage of Northern Ireland at the time

of the Good Friday Agreement. He is the author of three major books on the Troubles: ‘Paisley -

From Demagogue to Democrat?’, an unauthorised biography of Ian Paisley; ‘A Secret History of

the IRA’, an account of the IRA’s journey to the Good Friday Agreement and ‘Voices From the

Grave’ - the story of two combatants, Brendan Hughes of the IRA and David Ervine of the UVF.

He is also co-producer of a documentary based on ‘Voices From the Grave’ that won the Irish

Film and Television Academy prize for best documentary of 2009; and of the film ‘I, Dolours’,

the life of IRA veteran Dolours Price. He is married with one son and lives in the Bronx, New

York where he moved to from Belfast in 2001.

Award-winning film “The Drummer and the Keeper” is Nick Kelly’s first feature.

10.5.18 Condemned to Remember 038.jpg

Writer/ director Nick Kelly will join Solas Nua and the American Film Festival at the opening of the 13th annual Capital Irish Film Festival.

Produced by Calico Pictures and inspired by Nick’s experiences as both a rock musician and the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, his first feature The Drummer And The Keeper premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2017, where it won Best Irish First Feature.

After a successful Irish theatrical release it was selected for the BFI London Film Festival, and won Best Feature at the Irish Film Festival London in November 2017.

The Drummer And The Keeper was nominated in 5 categories at the 2018 IFTA Awards, including Best Screenplay for Nick’s script, with Jacob McCarthy winning the prestigious Rising Star for his portrayal of Christopher. Nick was one of three screenwriters nominated in the Best Feature Script section of the Irish Writer Guild’s annual ZeBBie awards 2018.

To date The Drummer And The Keeper has also won the Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival, Best Foreign Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Silver Award in the Score Bernhard Wicki Preis for Best Film at the Emden-Norderney International Filmfest, Best Feature at the Umbria Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize at Filmfest Bremen, Audience Award for Best Feature at the Eureociné Film Festival Nantes, and both the Audience Award and Young Jury Award at the Semaine Du Cineam Britannique in Bruz. Nick was awarded Best Director at the Breaking Down Barriers International Film Festival Moscow.

Nick Kelly began writing and directing award-winning short films in 2003, culminating in his third short Shoe being shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in 2011.

Having qualified as a solicitor and given up his legal career the same day, Nick’s working life has been devoted to creative endeavours. In addition to his work in film, he is a Clio-winning advertising creative, a Choice Music Prize-nominated musical artist and an Ian St. James Award-winning short fiction writer.

The festivals bringing the best of Irish films to a US audience


No need to rely solely on Netflix, these U.S.-based Irish film festivals are working to bring all the hottest new big-screen gems to an American audience.

IrishCentral readers are certainly film lovers and jump at the chance to stream the latest Irish hit but for many of you, there is access to great Irish movies on your own front door. Here, Pat Reilly of the Capital Irish Film Festival in D.C. explains how audiences even within Irish America differ from each other and how collaboration is key to bringing the best of Irish film stateside.

The Capital Irish and Chicago Irish Film Festivals met over a crisis.

I still had my training wheels on four years ago as director of the Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF). Showtime was the first weekend of March, and right after a successful opening night, I heard from “the other CIFF,” the Chicago Irish Film Festival. The same weekend, same acronym, and not surprisingly, many of the same films. The one we had just opened with the night before in Silver Spring, MD, had not made it from Ireland to Chicago for their festival. I had the only copy this side of the Atlantic.

The American Film Institute Marquee used by the Capital Irish Film Festival.

The American Film Institute Marquee used by the Capital Irish Film Festival.

Chicago’s Jude Blackburn had almost two decades of experience running a film festival, but that couldn’t guarantee the Irish mail service. I overnighted my copy of the film, impressed that Chicago had an account with FedEx!

While we checked in frequently to track its progress, we promised to share a whine over a glass of wine when it was over. It turned out that would only happen in Galway several years hence. Along the way, though, we traded information, shared guests and compared audience tastes.

The Washington-area audience enjoys films exploring Irish history and culture and will turn out in large numbers for “political films,” or ones about church scandals. Chicago “has moved towards indie or edgier films like ‘The Survivalist’, ‘Traders’ and ‘Writing Home,’” says Blackburn.

Everybody loves films about music and musicians—like the comedic “Sing Street” or the 2018 documentary “Lomax in Éirinn.”

Chicago is renowned for its shorts programs, having screened over 700 shorts in 20 years. Capital Irish is proud to show this year’s Oscar-nominated short “Late Afternoon.”

And despite the Irish reputation for having fun, great comedies are hard to find and we hunt for them like snipes at a full moon and feel blessed when we get a good one for the festival. This year, the Capital-area CIFF opens with a dramedy “The Drummer and the Keeper” and a talkback with director Nick Kelly. We’ll celebrate with a reception hosted by The Embassy of Ireland.

The Capital’s CIFF has long enjoyed the support of Culture Ireland (CI), the Irish government ministry whose mission it is to support the spread of Irish culture worldwide. CI funds the travel of filmmakers to festivals, one of the favorite festival features for artists and audiences.

This year, we’re excited to have one of the busiest Irish actors around, Lalor Roddy, whose range has him acting on stage with the Lyric, the Abbey and the Royal Shakespeare and also playing the Catspaw Assassin in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” He stars in three of our festival films, “The Devil’s Doorway” (priest), “Don’t Leave Home” (priest again) and “Float Like a Butterfly” (traveler grandfather).

With a little bit of schedule jiggering, I can bring artists from Ireland to D.C. early in the weekend and then route them through Chicago by Sunday, and vice versa. Capital Irish has the help of Caddie Tours, a local travel company that makes artists’ flight arrangements pro bono. That acts like aspirin for organizers.

In recent years, thanks to the smashing box office success of Irish films like “The Favourite,” “Room,” “Brooklyn” and the phenomenal “Game of Thrones,” Irish films, filmmakers and actors are in high demand. Films go more quickly to international distributors or video on demand so that film festivals largely run by volunteers on sparse budgets rely heavily on the Irish Film Institute, the Arts Council and Screen Ireland to help us get the attention of filmmakers who are holding out for Sundance or, better yet, an Oscar nod.

My CIFF is part of a group in the Washington, D.C., area, Solas Nua (new light in Irish), a non-profit dedicated to multi-disciplinary contemporary Irish arts. As a member of the board of directors, I coordinate with a theater arts director, a visual arts director, a book club, a poetry series and a range of musical presentations from all over Ireland.

Blackburn and her board of directors are all about film and receive hundreds of films each and have a panel of reviewers to create a diverse program of films.

While Chicago has used the beautiful Logan and Gallery Theatres for years and now Theatre on the Lake, an incredible space for their opening night gala and screening, Capital Irish has partnered with the American Film Institute, which specializes in international film festivals and operates the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in suburban Silver Spring, MD. The partnership has brought us theaters, a spacious lobby for parties and a staff of film aficionados to help with everything. AFI’s massive art deco marquee can put Irish filmmakers’ names in lights for the run of their shows, which sends some first-time filmmakers into orbit.

If you are within reach of our festivals, why not come out and see some amazing films and meet the filmmakers before they get that Oscar nod. To see the full program and buy tickets go to Capital Irish Film Festival or Chicago Irish Film Festival

Weekend Movie Star

CIFF alumni ‘Lift’ gets a boost from VOD

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By Kealan Ryan (writer/actor)

The best Irish film you may have enjoyed at the Capital Irish Film Festival is now on all good Video On Demand (VOD) platforms. If I say so myself, “Lift” is the greatest movie ever written. Perhaps I’m a little biased, considering that I wrote it. In fact, I’m definitely biased, but still, at the very least you’ll think it is damn good.

I travelled with “Lift” to the 2017 Capital Irish Film Festival, where I got to feel like a movie star for a weekend. My V.I.P. experience began on my flight from Ireland, where I had a middle row on the plane and as luck would have it nobody to share it with. Stretched out across four seats, I had more leg room than first class; things were off to a damn good start and they were only about to get better.

Picked up from the airport and brought to the spectacular venue of the AFI Silver Theatre, I met the delightful Pat Reilly and Mike Kerlin, who greeted me with a fine glass of red wine. The place was full of nothing but lovely people all there to promote and celebrate Irish film and all eager to talk about my film, which would be playing the next night. When that night came, I spent about twenty minutes outside trying to get the perfect selfie in front of my name in lights as it spun around the impressive canopy at the entrance of the AFI complex. With the best ever selfie secured and my ego at an all-time high, I bounced into the place as if my shoes were made out of springs.

It was our American premiere, so I was slightly anxious about how it would be received. I needn’t have been: Laughing, clapping, hooting, crying. There’s nothing quite like an American audience – they really let you know how they feel. And it made me feel, well, like I said – a movie star.

While mingling, everyone kept telling me, “Wait till you meet Paddy Meskell … Paddy this and Paddy that.” When I did meet him, the man didn’t disappoint one bit. Charismatic and friendly, not only did he give me just about the best introduction for the Q&A I could ask for, but he also made me feel extremely welcome, like we were old friends. But then, everyone did. From all the organisers and helpers of the sponsoring organization Solas Nua to the fine people who support them.

I didn’t want to leave my new friends, but I was Chicago-bound for “Lift’s” second American screening at the Chicago Irish Film Festival. Another great venue, great people, great Q&A. My head was spinning on the plane home. It was still spinning on my drive into work on the Tuesday. Right up until I noticed I was washing a filthy dirty generator in the pissings of rain. Ah shit. Back to reality. But the experience gave me a taste of something. Made me believe that following this dream of writing and making movies full time was inching ever closer. And that now, there was no way in hell I could ever give up on it.

It’s not an easy path, it must be a vocation. The lows can be tough, but the highs are fantastic. Spurred on from these highs my first novel “The Middle Place” has since secured a publishing deal with Mercier Press and will be out in the Spring.  Having “Lift” play in festivals such as The Capital Irish Film Festival, helped get it picked up by a leading distribution company Screen Media Films, and like I said, become available in the USA and Canada on a whole bunch of platforms including: Google Play, Amazon Prime, iTunes, AT&T, Comcast, FandangoNOW, iNDemand, Microsoft Store, Sling, Vubiquity, Vudu, Playstation and XBOX.  

But we’re not done with it. The hope for Lift now is to get it out to a wider audience through further networks, the more downloads it receives at this stage, the more likely that becomes. So do yourself a favour, you’ll love it, I promise. Okay, do me a favour. Pick out your preferred platform and check out the film. If it makes you feel something, then spread the word.

Being a movie star for a weekend was great, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day all that really matters is for people to see the film and enjoy it. That’s even better than getting the best ever selfie in front of my name in lights…As good as anyway.   


Amazon link:

Google Play link:

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Backstage fun!

CIFF Co-Director Mike Kerlin and Volunteer Coordinator Norah Quinn urge audiences to vote after each film.

CIFF Co-Director Mike Kerlin and Volunteer Coordinator Norah Quinn urge audiences to vote after each film.

Solas Nua Board Chair Paddy Meskell pitched in with tips about hurling

Solas Nua Board Chair Paddy Meskell pitched in with tips about hurling

CIFF closing film 'The Farthest' w/ Ambassador Mulhall

"We, the team behind The Farthest, are delighted to learn that our film has received the audience prize at CIFF this year! In fact, we are over the moon!"

-Tony Cranstoun, editor of "The Farthest"

Editor of "The Farthest" Tony Cranstoun, left, and planetary astronomer Dr. Heidi Hammel discuss the film with Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall.

Editor of "The Farthest" Tony Cranstoun, left, and planetary astronomer Dr. Heidi Hammel discuss the film with Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall.

Film director Colin McIvor shares his CIFF experience

To have my feature film 'Zoo' open the 2018 Capital Irish Film Festival was such a privilege and something I'll never forget. The organisers and attendees were so knowledgable, warm and gracious with their comments on the film. The cherry on top was the fantastic AFI theatre in Silver Spring with its retro wrap around billboard. All in all a superb festival which I highly recommend. 

--Colin McIvor 

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Irish Film Institute creates a portal to its archives

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) has launched the IFI Player, a virtual viewing room where audiences can instantly access parts of the rich collections housed in its Irish Film Archive. This is very a significant step in the history of film archives, democratizing access to remarkable collections, including content from as far back as 1910. 

Initially over 1200 minutes of content has been loaded onto the IFI Player, including footage from what is believed to be the first piece of animation, home movies, newsreels, travelogues, animations, feature films, public information films and documentaries. It also includes the following film collections: The Gael-Linn CollectionThe Horgan Brothers Collection, The O’Kalem CollectionThe Radharc CollectionThe Father Delaney CollectionThe Bord Fáilte Film CollectionThe Department of Foreign Affairs CollectionThe Desmond Egan CollectionThe Monsignor Reid Collection. Additional content from the archives will be added over the coming years, making this an ever growing resource.

To access the IFI Player simply log on to and begin to explore. 

Thoughts from Paddy Meskell

It is so heartwarming to see the reaction of the audiences to Irish films presented at CIFF.

And the talkbacks!

Hen Norton and Dan Dennison of Born and Reared and Kealan Ryan of Lift have honored our audiences with thoughtful, insightful, provocative, honest and humorous answers to some great questions. We have very knowledgeable audiences and their interest in and commitment to Irish artists and Irish filmmakers is very impressive. And inspiring.

As I watch the films and listen to the film-makers, I am struck by how serious they are about their craft, how resourceful they are within a limited resources environment and how talented they are.

The delight that these artists and their colleagues have in creating lovely films is obvious. The energy and the vibrancy that they exhibit when discussing their work is contagious. They seem to come alive and at times they make you feel that you are there on the set or in the cutting room with them -part of the creative team and process.


Thoughts from Paddy Meskell

It is so heartwarming to see the reaction of the audiences to Irish films presented at CIFF.

And the talkbacks. 

Hen Norton and Dan Dennison of Born and Reared and Kealan Ryan of Lift have honored our audiences with thoughtful, insightful, provocative, honest and humorous answers to some great questions. We have very knowledgeable audiences and their interest in and commitment to Irish artists and Irish filmmakers is very impressive. And inspiring.

As I watch the films and listen to the film-makers, I am struck by how serious they are about their craft, how resourceful they are within a limited resources environment and how talented they are.

The delight that these artists and their colleagues have in creating lovely films is obvious. The energy and the vibrancy that they exhibit when discussing their work is contagious. They seem to come alive and at times they make you feel that you are there on the set or in the cutting room with them -part of the creative team and process.

The Capital Irish Film Festival Loves Irish Filmmakers

With the financial assistance of Culture Ireland, five filmmakers will be joining the Capital Irish Filmmaker audiences to discuss their films, their careers and their next projects at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre March 2 through 5:


“Born and Reared” is a first feature-length documentary for filmmakers Henrietta Norton, director, and Dan Dennison, producer/cinematographer. It tells the ongoing story of four young men of differing social and religious backgrounds who grew up during “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, when lines of identity were sharply drawn. The underlying question is “What happens when the cameras and reporters go away?” What are the aftereffects of civil conflict long after the “Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998?” Ms. Norton was born in London, but spent weekends and holidays in Northern Ireland with her stepmother Marjorie “Mo” Mowlam, who was Northern Ireland Secretary of State in 1997 and ’98. She calls this a story she had to tell. Dublin-born producer Dan Dennison is a photojournalist who has been to trouble spots around the world. He has seen the aftereffects of conflict in many cultures. Ms. Norton co-founded the first crowdfunding platform in the United Kingdom in 2011 and ‘Born and Reared’ was initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2014. Hen and Dan have recently established Hot Feet Productions, a film company that specializes in documentary films. Screening Thursday, March 2 at 7:15 p.m.


Producer Marie-Therese Garvey founded the independent production company reater Than Ten Miles in 2015 to focus on telling social issue stories in creative and innovative ways. GTTM’s first feature documentary is “Atlantic”, released in 2016, and the winner of Best Irish Documentary at the Dublin International Film Festival. Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Brendan Gleeson and directed by Risteard O’Domhnaill (The Pipe 2010),”Atlantic” follows the fortunes of three small fishing communities - in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland - as they share the struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of mounting economic and ecological challenges. Ms. Garvey, based in County Clare, Ireland, has shot documentaries in some of the most difficult terrain on Earth, including the Norwegian Artic and the Sahara Desert. The Irish Times calls “Atlantic” “epic in scope, damning in its conclusions.”

Screening Sunday, March 5 at 2:30 p.m.


“Lift” writer-producer Kealan Ryan is also a novelist, whose debut novel “The Middle Place” won the 2015 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair, director of short films, actor, musician and travel blogger. “Lift”, directed by Conor Armstrong Sanfey, is his first feature film writing credit. says, “Ryan never lets a moment last too long where characters aren’t saying something humorous.” Ryan and Sanfey also turned to crowdfunding to get this movie, about people trapped in an elevator with a man who has just committed an assault, off the ground. CIFF will be “Lift’s” U.S. premier.

Screening Friday, March 3 at 7:15 p.m.

Hilary Rose is an actor, comedian and the wife of “The Young Offenders” director Peter Foott. Seven months pregnant with her first child while filming the final scenes playing the mother of one of the juvenile delinquents in the comedy, she says it was a family affair, start to finish. The road show, buddy flick, based on a real Irish crime scene, follows two hapless small-time criminals as they set off to find a cache of drugs that reportedly is washing up on the beautiful beaches of West Cork. Ms. Rose, who is from Cork, is known in Ireland as the television character Handy Sandie from “Republic of Telly”. “the Young Offenders” was named Best Irish Feature Film at the Galway Film Fleadh and received the Dublin Film Critics Circle award for Best Irish Film.

Screening Sunday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.


CIFF All Access Passes are available at

Single tickets are available at