The Irish Film London team work year round to promote Irish film culture to people across the capital - and beyond, but like most, the closure of cinemas has had a significant impact on their ability to share the best new Irish film with their audiences. With cinemas now reopen, the IFL team took time to reflect on the films they think deserve to be seen on the big screen.
The Irish film I’ve missed most during cinema closures is Cartoon Saloon’s Wolfwalkers. From the moment I saw it online at BFI London Film Festival 2020, I knew it deserved the big screen treatment. This masterfully crafted feature animation is bursting with colour and life. The story of feisty apprentice wolf hunter Robyn, despite its medieval Ireland setting, is a story for our times about girls having to push that much harder for their independence, finding hidden reserves of resilience and courage to face life’s challenges. The pack of wolves Robyn encounters, led by a fierce and magical wild child, Mebh, conjure up a heartstopping adventure. The girls form a bond from which they draw strength even as it is tested to the limits. And the hand drawn animation, not least in the finale, will take your breath away.
Selected by Madeleine Casey - Festival Coordinator and Shorts Programmer
Calm With Horses
Calm With Horses began releasing into cinema's when the world started to close down so many people may have missed this gem. An Irish gangster-esque movie, it stars Cosmo Jarvis in a beautifully strong performance as the erratically tempered bruiser 'Arm', an ex-boxer who works for a criminal enterprise and who gets wrapped up in a job that's too much to bear for the gentle soul under his hard exterior. Trying to support his ex-wife Ursala (Niamh Algar) and their autistic child, he'll do (almost) anything to give them better opportunities in life. Algar does a fantastic job at portraying a mother who is determined to make a better life for her son by finally getting out of this small town. The world building is fantastic and although set in an unknown Irish location, the sense of sorrowful rural Ireland is still very strong. This gritty Irish modern western is not to be missed!
Selected by Niamh Branigan - Podcast Producer and Social Media Manager
From the moment I saw the first images for Arracht (Irish for ‘monster’) I was captivated. This Irish language film was Ireland’s entry for Best International Feature at the 2021 Oscars and was a firm festival favourite before Covid put its widespread release on hold. It’s a tale of the dark times of the Irish famine, told from the perspective of a man who falls afoul of his landlord at a time of rising rents and profound starvation across the community. Bleak and austere, its nonetheless a beautifully told narrative, using the metaphor of an unwanted presence to signify the complex circumstances the people of the time found themselves in, with incredible results. Scenes of Colmán’s escape to the purgatory of island life are pure cinema. I’m waiting for a well overdue announcement on its Autumn 2021 release to enjoy it on the big screen at long last.
Selected by Gerry Maguire - Head of Irish Film London
Lina Luzyte is a Lithuanian director and her second feature, The Castle, follows the story of a young Lithuanian girl in Dublin who wants nothing more than to pursue her passion: music. However, there are obstacles on Monika's journey. She gets the chance to perform at one of Ireland's most prestigious music venues, but her mother is far from supportive. I can count the number of times I have been to the cinema this past year on one hand. With everyone being stuck inside and venues unable to open, we’ve missed out on the chance to watch some truly remarkable films on the big screen, and The Castle is on my list of missed chances. Its focus on community - needing one another to succeed (and survive) - shows audiences the importance of connection at a time in our lives when it has been sorely lacking.
Selected by Eilis Rooney - IFL Work Placement
Irish Film London's series "The Irish for Hope" is part of Film Feels Hopeful, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. The series screens at The Rio Cinema in Dalston and Bertha DocHouse throughout August. Visit irishfilmlondon.com for more information.