CIFF2023: that’s a wrap on the most successful CIFF festival to date!

Mon, 03/06/2023
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The 17th edition of the Solas Nua Capital Irish Film Festival, presented in partnership with AFI Silver, was our biggest and boldest yet with sold-out screenings, 29 titles, 16 features, 18 visiting artists, 11 women directors, 11 short films, and a new family program.  Huge thanks to the most curious, adventurous, and committed audiences who attended the screenings and hung out with us at the festival. We had a record-breaking turnout.  We’re also delighted to announce that several CIFF2023 films have just garnered 31 Irish Film and Television Academy Awards nominations.

Highlights of the festival included the exclusive gala screening of the Oscar-nominated Irish language runaway success, An Cailín Ciúin/ The Quiet Girl. AFI Silver Director of Programming, Todd Hitchcock and Solas Nua and Executive Director, Miranda Driscoll introduced the evening and welcomed guests. New Capital Irish Film Festival Director, Maedhbh Mc Cullagh introduced the program and welcomed the guest of honor, the Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, who gave opening remarks.  Special guest, director Colm Bairéad, joined us on the final leg of his whirlwind press tour ahead of next week’s Academy Awards and engaged in a fascinating Q&A with Cóilín Parsons, Director of the Irish Global Studies program at Georgetown University.  Guests included other dignitaries and special guests from the Irish American community in Washington DC and everyone was welcomed to a post-screening drinks and canapés reception presented by renowned Irish chef, Cathal Armstrong and sponsored by the Embassy of Ireland.

As part of a special focus on film from Northern Ireland, in light of the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, the festival presented three special screenings on Friday, March 3rd including the North American premiere of Ballywalter with the director Prasanna Puwanarajah,  lead actor and comedian Patrick Kielty, and writer Stacey Gregg.  The second annual presentation of the Norman Houston Short Film Award took place introduced by new CIFF Director Maedhbh Mc Cullagh. Solas Nua board member Kate Meenan Waugh,  a friend of Norman Houston, gave the opening remarks, and special guest of honor Andrew Elliott, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau spoke about the success and vibrancy of the film industry in Northern Ireland. Former CIFF Director, Pat Reilly, presented the award to writer and director Caleb J Roberts for his extraordinary short Homebird who took to the stage to receive the award with producer Callum Harrison and lead actor Peter Young.  This screening was presented in a double bill with Soilsiù Films’ Young Plato, which was followed by a post-screening Q&A with director Neasa NíChianáin and producer David Rane in conversation with visiting Fulbright scholar at Georgetown University, Dr. Darragh Gannon, Head of Irish Studies at University College Dublin and Vice President of the Global Irish Diaspora Congress. All guests were invited to a special reception afterward at AFI presented by Irish chef, Cathal Armstrong, hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau. 

The festival closed on Sunday night at AFI, Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, with a special screening of Patrick McGivney’s, and Robert Higgins' Galway Fleadh winner, Lakelands introduced by the Deputy Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Orla Keane, followed by an in-person Q&A with co-director, Patrick McGivney, and producer, Chris Higgins.  Guests convened afterward at McGinty’s bar and restaurant for a post-screening reception sponsored by the St. Patrick’s Day Committee of Washington, DC.

A fantastic film-focused four days of screenings and special events was had by all. As well as all of the artists mentioned above, the following artists also traveled to the U.S. to share their work with us including, director Luke McManus (North Circular), director Anna Rodgers (How To Tell A Secret), director Dónal Foreman (The Cry of Granuaile), director Michael Kinirons and producer Alicia NíGhráinne (The Sparrow), writer and director, Sinéad O Shea (Pray For Our Sinners) and director Ailís Logan (Wine Lake).   

Solas Nua wishes to extend deepest gratitude to our entire community who helped make this festival possible including the Board of Directors, institutional funders, corporate sponsors, community partners, film underwriters, festival volunteers, shorts film program judges, and our Q&A moderators. We would also like to thank our CIFF community of festival goers for their time, passion, and enthusiasm for the Capital Irish Film Festival and all that we do. Sincere thanks to all for coming out and for engaging in conversation in the interstitial moments between the screenings.  Solas Nua will announce the 2023 Audience Choice Award later this week and over the coming weeks, the festival will share content from post-screening Q&As and interviews with many of the artists.  Finally, sincere thanks to all of our artists who shared their incredible work with us and who came to the US to be with us at the festival.  It is because of you and your brilliant work that we get to do what we do.

We’re already conjuring the 2024 edition and look forward to sharing more from our film program with you throughout the year.

Go raibh míle, míle maith agaibh.
Maedhbh Mc Cullagh
Director Capital Irish Film Festival


Solas Nua’s Capital Irish Film Festival has been showing Irish films, films by Ireland-based filmmakers and the best of Irish cinematic talent, annually for 17 years. The four-day festival is presented in partnership with AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center at their historic art-deco theater in Silver Spring, MD. 

A huge thank you to our partners at AFI Silver, especially Todd Hitchcock, Abbie Algar, Tiffany Graham-Golden, Javier Chavez, Josh Gardner, Juliet Burch, and the entire team of staff who supported us on the ground in Silver Spring.

Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme
Culture Ireland
Screen Ireland
Northern Ireland Bureau
Embassy of Ireland
Irish Film Institute
Solas Nua is supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

The Northern Ireland Bureau
Andrew Clarke & Chip Sherrill
Gerri Fiala 

Caddy Tours
Happy Medium Productions
Irish Network DC
Marriott Courtyard Silver Spring
McGinty’s Public House
Silver Spring Town Center
St. Patrick’s Day Committee of Washington, D.C.

Pat Reilly • Chef Cathal Armstrong • Colette & Barry Breen • Martin & Mary Liz Burns • Mike Kirlin • Cóilín Parsons & Ryan Dolan • Dennis Houlihan & Mimi Conway • Kate Meenan-Waugh • Paddy & Darlene Meskell • Patrick McGlone & Kevin Taylor

Cathal Armstrong, chef and author  • Teri Ellen Cross Davis, poet and author  • Miranda Driscoll, Executive Director, Solas Nua • Rex Daugherty, Artist Director of Theatre, Solas Nua  • Dr. Darragh Gannon, visiting Fulbright scholar, Georgetown University, Head of Irish Studies at University College Dublin and Vice President of the Global Irish Diaspora Congress • Jackie Hoysted, visual artist • Catríona Palmer, journalist and author • Cóilín Parsons, Associate Professor in the Department of English and Director of the Global Irish Studies Initiative. 

Mary Turkot (Volunteer Coordinator) • Greg Hindsley • Linda Keenan • Camilla Madden • John McShane • Meredyth Woody • Jen Miller • Avery Rosen • Michael Brown • Maryanne Henderson • Mike Sutterlin • Kate Meenan-Waugh • Mike Kirlin • Colette Breen • Rex Daugherty

John & Lori Collins • Colette & Barry Breen • Paddy & Darlene Meskell • Miranda Driscoll • Maedhbh Mc Cullagh • Tom McIntyre • Mike Kirlin • Luke Dunne • Darragh Gannon • Seán Wrenn

Cathal Armstrong, Norma Ces, Lori & John Collins, DJ Corey, Mallori Edley, Alan Donnelly, Silvia Ferfuffino, Ron Graville, Bruce Guthrie, Rachel Hewitt, Niall Leogue, Lisa Martin, Eleanor Melinn, Sorcha Fennell Sheehan, Pat McCabe, Eamonn McConville, Isobel Murray, Rachel Media, Molly O’Shea, Lorcan Ryan, Krista Sonia, Greg Whelan, Cameron Whitman, and Seán Wrenn.