6 October 2008
Hundreds flocked to watch Irish movies in the first Irish Film Festival of Los Angeles last weekend. Festival Director Lisa McLaughlin-Strassman was pleased by the high turnout. “We started small but our dreams are big,” she announced.
The non-competitive festival aims to provide a launch pad for recent Irish productions, bringing them more visibility within the Hollywood community and exposing rare classics to audiences in a communal, distinctive setting.
The festival kicked off with the west coast premiere of Eden, a new film from the producers of Once and directed by Declan Recks. The film follows a married couple in a picturesque Irish town as they prepare for their 10th anniversary and confront their fears of the future. A vivid portrayal of marriage and the vulnerability of love, the film features tour-de-force performances by Eileen Walsh and Qidan Kelly.
The Closing Night Special event included two rare Irish silent films. Accompanied by a live orchestra, the original contemporary score was composed by Eimear Noone, Irish film composer and conductor of the Los Angeles Ballet.
Other films screened at the festival were Kings from director Tom Collins, the first Irish-language film ever submitted in the Best Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards. Kings was nominated for a record 14 Irish Film and Television Awards in 2008 and won five IFTA Awards. A universal story of disenfranchisement and search for identity, Kings tells the past and present stories of six ambitious Irishmen who dreamed of making their fortunes in the construction industry of 1970s London. The film stars Colm Meaney, Donal O’Kelly, Brendan Conroy, Barry Barnes and Donncha Crowley.
In a showcase of the ‘Jewish-Irish Experience’, the audience was presented with the west coast premiere of Grandpaâ€¦ Speak to Me in Russian, directed by Louis Lentin, and Shalom Ireland, directed by Valerie Lapin. In his personal film, Grandpaâ€¦ Speak to Me in Russian, director Lentin uncovers the inspiring story of his family and the lost world of the Jewish shtetl, reconstructing the life of his paternal grandfather, Kalman Solomon Lentin. In Shalom Ireland, director Valerie Lapin reveals Ireland’s small but vibrant Jewish community, focusing on three Irish-Jewish families, a community whose existence takes many by surprise, with a soundtrack that fuses traditional Irish and Klezmer music.
An award-winning documentary film, Learning Gravity, from director Cathal Black about Irish-American Poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch was also featured in the festival.