Solas Nua’s 17th Capital Irish Film Festival announces the 2023 Audience Favorite Films

CIFF 2023 Audience Award - Solas Nua v4

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Solas Nua’s 17th Annual Capital Irish Film Festival today announced the films that were voted the 2023 Audience Favorites based on filmgoers’ feedback and reviews from the screenings at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD. The films announced are:

The North American Premiere of the bittersweet comedy drama feature Ballywalter has been voted audience feature favorite of the festival. It follows the unlikely friendship between caustic, unrepentant university drop-out Eileen (IFTA award nominee Séana Kerslake BAD SISTERS) and Shane (NI comedian, Patrick Kielty, in his feature debut), a recent divorcee trying his hand at stand up comedy to get his life back on track. The feature was written by the award-winning Stacey Gregg and it is the directorial debut of actor Prasanna Puwanarajah, (most recently seen as Martin Bashir in THE CROWN).

Ballywalter was produced by the UK’s James Bierman of Empire Street Productions and Nik Bower of Riverstone Pictures in co-production with Alan Maher and John Wallace of Ireland’s Cowtown Pictures.

Finance for the film was provided by the British Film Institute (BFI), Screen Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and Salmira Productions.

La Tumba
The comedy La Tumba has been voted audience short favorite of the festival. Written by Jonathan Hughes and directed by Natasha Waugh, the film follows oddball park ranger Paddy who discovers Pilar, an older Spanish lady with no English, at a freshly dug grave in the middle of a reserve park Paddy goes into overdrive and thinks his fantasy of solving a murder case has finally come true.

2023 Festival Program
The 17th edition of the Solas Nua Capital Irish Film Festival represented the largest program of Irish film and screenings by Irish filmmakers in North America. With critically acclaimed reviews, sold-out screenings, 16 features, 18 visiting artists, 11 women directors, 11 short films, and a new family program the 2023 program was the biggest and boldest to date and included the Oscar-nominated Irish language record-breaking An Cailín Ciúin/The Quiet Gil which opened the festival.  The festival included the North American Premiere of BALLYWALTER and U.S. Premieres of VICKY and GHOSTS OF BAGGOTONIA, East Coast Premieres of LAKELANDS, THE SPARROW, LOLA, HOW TO TELL A SECRET, and NORTH CIRCULAR; plus Frank Berry’s AISHA, and Soilsiú Films' award-winning documentary YOUNG PLATO. The line-up also included directorial debuts, women and trans filmmakers as well eagerly anticipated, critically acclaimed films exploring immigration, HIV/AIDS in contemporary Ireland, the fight for justice in women’s healthcare, and new expressions of masculinity in father-son relationships.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, the festival spotlighted five inspirational and moving films from Northern Ireland that reflect the vibrant, dynamic, and diverse contemporary culture of Northern Ireland. CIFF also celebrated the extraordinary legacy of the former director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in the United States, Norman Houston with the announcement of the 2023 Norman Houston Short Film Award winner: HOMEBIRD by Caleb J. Roberts, a BAFTA-Qualified, award-winning queer-trans writer and director from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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