Irish Film to Take Centre Stage at 18th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival


Irish Film to Take Centre Stage at 18th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival

Posted: 5th April 2017

A host of Irish films will screen at the 18th annual Newport Beach Festival in California, with Juanita Wilson’s Tomato Red, Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture and Darren Thornton’s A Date for Mad Mary, all featuring as part of the festival’s Irish Showcase event. Other IFB-supported titles screening at Newport include Aoife Kelleher’s Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village, Ross McDonnell and Tim Golden’s Elián, Len Collin’s Sanctuary and Vincent Gallagher’s short film, Second to None.

The festival, which runs from 20–27 April has long been proud to promote Irish films and culture, with 59 Irish titles programmed to an audience of over 500,000 over the past decade. The festival’s signature Irish Showcase, which takes place on 23 April, places a special emphasis on Irish cinema, culture and cuisine over the course of the week-long festival.

Speaking about the Irish selection at the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival, Gregg Schwenk, CEO of the festival said:

The Festival is extremely proud showcase the best in Irish Cinema. We are honoured to host the largest collection of Irish film in the history of the Festival and the largest celebration of Irish film on the West Coast.  With fourteen short films and ten feature films, the Newport Beach Film Festival shines a spotlight on the exceptionally strong filmmaking community in Ireland.”

Based on the acclaimed novel by Daniel Woodrell Tomato Red tells the story of small town drifter and street philosopher Sammy Barlach (Jake Weary) on the search for his next cold beer and the bunch that'll have him. But trouble is always on his menu, and this time it comes in the form of red-headed Jamalee (Julia Garner) and her dreams of hitting the big time through her brother's movie star good looks.  Produced by Elizabeth Gill and James Flynn of Metropolitan Films/Octagon Films, and Daniel Bekerman for Scythia Films, Wilson presents a film about the struggle to get a break and our deep-seated need to belong.

Currently running in Irish cinemas, Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture, is set against a backdrop of an emerging Irish state in the 1940s in which female sexuality and independence unsettled the colluding patriarchies of church and nationalist politics, we learn of her ultimate triumph. Produced by Noel Pearson and Rob Quigley for Ferndale Films, the film features a stellar Irish and international cast including Jack Reynor, Rooney Mara, Eric Bana and Vanessa Redgrave in this extraordinary and moving tale of love and injustice.

Darren Thornton’s award-winning feature film, A Date for Mad Mary, which recently saw lead actress Seána Kerslake nominated for an IFTA Rising Star Award completes the trio of Irish films screening as part of Newport’s Irish Spotlight 2017 programme. The film sees ‘Mad’ Mary McArdle returning to Drogheda after a short spell in prison—for something she’d rather forget.  Back home, everything and everyone has changed.  Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is maid of honour.  When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn't find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong.  Her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone … until she meets Jess and everything changes. Produced by Juliette Bonass for Element Pictures, A Date for Mad Mary was joint winner of Best Irish Feature at the 2016 Galway Film Fleadh.

Amongst a range of other Irish titles that have been selected for Newport include Len Collin’s Sanctuary, which is set in a world of people with intellectual disabilities; Aoife Kelleher’s Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village, about Knock, Co. Mayo—the Irish town built on a miracle; Ross McDonnell and Tim Golden’s Elián, recounting the story of a Cuban boy named Elián González who, on Thanksgiving Day in 1999, was found floating on an inner tube in the Florida Straits; and Vincent Gallagher’s Second to None, which is an animated black comedy in stop motion about the world’s second oldest man who learns that ambition can be a killer. Elián and Second to None will also both screen at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month.

The Newport Beach Film Festival will take place on 20–27 April and more info can be found here