Thursday February 22: Recent Irish Shorts

Our first curated monthly screening is a partnership with the Toronto Irish Film Festival, which unspools its 8th edition from March 2-4th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Festival co-director John Galway joins us to introduce their 2018 lineup and to present some great recent Irish short films. Lower prices will be in effect and all tickets must be bought at the Carlton box office. Special thanks to Network Ireland Television, the Irish Film Board, and Eibh Collins for their generous help in assembling this programme.

Thursday February 22nd at 7:00pm
(but meet us at 6:00pm in the lobby for pre-screening drinks and craic!)
Carlton Cinemas
20 Carlton Street (steps from College subway station)

Still from Boogaloo & Graham


Dir: Michael Lennox
UK – 2014

Jamesy and Malachy are over the moon when their soft-hearted dad presents them with two baby chicks to care for. Raising their tiny charges, declaring themselves vegetarian and dreaming of running a chicken farm, the two boys are in for a shock when their parents announce that big changes are coming to the family.

Duration: 14:00

Still from Strangers in the Night


Dir: Conor McMahon
Ireland – 2015

Two lonely people find the love that they were searching for. Well, one lonely person and one banshee.

Duration: 12:00

Still from The Nation Holds Its Breath


Dir: Kev Cahill
Ireland – 2016

On the day of the most important football match in Irish history, a young father-to-be is torn between a) standing at his wife’s side to hold her hand and witness the miracle of childbirth, or b) witnessing the miracle of the national team reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Duration: 20:00

Still from Noreen


Dir: Domhnall Gleeson
Ireland – 2011

Two policemen learn life lessons on a house-call in rural Ireland. Frank is young and heartbroken. Con is middle-aged and weary. They’re both alone. They’re both idiots. Written and directed by Domhnall Gleeson, and starring his brother Brian Gleeson and father Brendan Gleeson.

Duration: 18:00

Still from Analogue People in a Digital Age


Dirs: Keith Walsh and Jill Beardsworth
Ireland – 2013

On the day that Ireland’s analogue television network is replaced by a digital signal, eight men in a bar battle to survive in the new world, the TV in the corner a harbinger of this technological future

Duration: 13:00

Still from Breakfast Wine


Dir: Ian FitzGibbon
Ireland – 2013

They say it takes just three alcoholics to keep a small bar running in a country town, but what if you’ve only got two? Starring Dylan Moran (Black Books).

Duration: 12:00

Tickets available online or at the Carlton box office ($10 adults, $7 seniors). Facebook RSVP here!

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 6

Crowds at the market at Clermont-Ferrand 2018

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

I slept a bit better last night and so was able to get up and out by 10:00am but had no real schedule except to see some films in the video library and try to talk to some people in the market. I was able to make an appointment at the video library from noon until 2:00pm and caught up on some films I wanted to see, including Min börda (The Burden) (funny and yet deeply sad) and Mixtape Marauders (just about perfect, at least to this mixtape-loving music nerd).

Mixtape Marauders (Still)

By 2:30pm, I was hungry and tired again so grabbed lunch at Quick and then dashed home for a nap. I was back at the market for Happy Hour, but apart from speaking briefly with Danny Lennon (who introduced me to filmmaker Chris Lavis, who made Madame Tutli-Putli) and Laurence Boyce, I didn’t find it fruitful. The crowds are just too thick, and I find that draining. Earlier in the day, I’d run quite by accident into Derry O’Brien from Network Ireland Television. We’ve been corresponding about our upcoming screening and so it was good to make the connection in person. I’d met his colleague Sadhb Murphy earlier in the week. I seem to have met most of the Irish delegation this year anyway, so that was definitely valuable.

I wrapped up the festival and my time in Clermont-Ferrand with a lovely dinner with local Ilias Tahri, who is volunteering at the festival after returning from volunteering at Sundance. Along with his twin brother and his brother’s girlfriend, we ate at La Tente Berbère, a charming Moroccan restaurant. After a filling meal of Tagine Berbère, a honey-filled pastry and a coffee, I was ready for an early bedtime. Ilias has been incredibly generous, providing a lift from the airport, a SIM card with lots of data, tonight’s meal, and just a general sense of support for someone like me with minimal French language skills. I’m very grateful to have met him, and hope I can return the favour somehow.

This year’s festival was in some ways easier than my visit in 2014, but also a bit tougher. I was fatigued but felt I was more strategic in my viewing opportunities. I did more socializing, but still felt shy. I met more people but failed to connect with any filmmakers. I littered the market and the Maison de la Culture with Shorts That Are Not Pants bookmarks, but worry that it won’t have much impact on film submissions. But it’s a good start, and I hope to follow up with all of my new contacts by email in the next few months. My only real regret this trip is that I didn’t get to enjoy a meal at Avenue. A good enough reason to return in 2019? Let’s hope so!

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 5

Ktipietok Okestar at Clermont-Ferrand 2018

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

I didn’t sleep much better, but I forced myself up at 7:30am to get to the Unifrance networking breakfast at 9:00am. I’d RSVP’ed and received an email reminder last night that said I was “expected” this morning, which definitely tripped my guilt response. I’m glad I went, though, since I met a whole group of interesting people seated at my table, including two Swiss filmmakers, a programmer from the Brussels Short Film Festival, and several producers and distributors. But in what might be becoming a theme, there wasn’t much food on offer, and I drank too much coffee instead.

I then did a walk around the market, and spoke to the good people at the Irish Film Board stand. I’m still working out a few details of our February 22 screening of recent Irish shorts, and they also gave me the new collection DVD. Feeling both famished and exhausted even before noon, I headed for Le 1513 for a gallette (this time the Deux Viandes, with beef, chicken, rice and cream – a bit too rich, actually) and then home for an epic three hour sleep.

Mostly refreshed, I headed back to the market in time for the daily Happy Hour, where I chatted with some of my new connections for an hour or so. Heading outside, I was delighted to find the same great klezmer band I saw in 2014 playing again, and this time I was in time for champagne (and pretzels!). KtipietoK OrKeStaR put a huge smile on my face and even gave me back a bit of energy. I counted 16 of them and it was a bit hard to tell where the band ended and the crowd began. Seeing them made me realize yet again how important live music is to me.

When they finished, I had time to get in line at Salle Vian (the lower level of the Maison de la Culture) for the F12 programme. All the films were well made but I found a few too earnest or too quirky to rise above mediocrity. The exception was Les Indes galantes, a five minute dance film from the Paris Opera pairing “krump” dancing with an operatic piece by Jean-Philippe Rameau. The strange pairing worked perfectly, and as with most dance films, I was overcome with emotion. The screening was over before 10:00pm and since I’d heard nothing about any more parties, I was grateful to just head home.

Despite spending a large chunk of the afternoon in bed, I felt like I made the most of Tuesday. Just one more full day left here. I’ll need to attack the market with a bit more focus tomorrow, and perhaps spend some time in the video library. I’m meeting my local friend Ilias and his brother for dinner tomorrow, and he’s promised to take me to a Moroccan restaurant.

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 4

Clermont-Ferrand 2018 Poster

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

Another terrible night’s sleep meant another lost morning, but the first event of my day wasn’t until 2:00pm. In fact, the entire afternoon was dedicated to several panels and meetings of the Short Film Conference, an organization of short film festivals that we’ve just recently joined. It began at 2:00pm with a presentation by my friend Jason Sondhi from Short of the Week on the “Be Everywhere All At Once Strategy” for short filmmakers. He made a great case for filmmakers making their online launch an important cornerstone of their overall festival strategy.

That was followed by a panel made up of African film festival professionals, who discussed the challenges of getting more African films screened at festivals around the world. It was interesting to hear that there are several large festivals on the continent that have been established since the 1960s, and that there are a lot of films that play at those festivals but go no further.

Another panel followed on the nuts and bolts of making a living as a festival director, with participants from such different corners of the world as Korea, Brazil, New Zealand and Switzerland. Hearing about how the political climate in some countries made funding unstable was a bit of an eye opener for me.

Then there was a meeting discussing some of the organizational issues for the group, which was less interesting, but they announced their choice for Short of the Year, which was Min Börda (The Burden), directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr. I’ve yet to see it but will try to catch it in the video library.

Then the drinking started. First an informal social where the panels had been held, and then we moved on to a party held by the Scandinavians, then the Short Film Conference dinner, held at the Salvation Jane pub, and then the German party. The “dinner” was definitely a letdown for me, with only finger foods on offer.

It was nice to spend most of the day with a smaller group of people, and walking from place to place with them was a good chance to talk even when the parties themselves were louder and more chaotic. I stayed out until about 12:30am and enjoyed myself quite a bit.

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 3

Cathedral, Clermont-Ferrand

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

I had modest ambitions for today that became even more modest after I woke up at 3:30am and couldn’t fall back asleep until after 7:30am. Eventually, I woke towards noon! All I wanted to do today was get some time at the video library so I could watch individual films and I was able to book two hours from 1:30-3:30pm where I watched a bunch of stuff. The best was Fry Day, a coming-of-age story set on the eve of Ted Bundy’s execution. This female-directed film had a lot to say about the victimization of women, even when it’s not at the hands of a serial killer. I was also delighted to discover that the score was by my friend Ariel Marx, who seems busier than ever these days.

After that it was a quick late lunch at fast food chain Quick (I recommend the “Long Bacon” sandwich) and then home for a quick refresh which of course included a nap, although I kept it to 40 minutes this time. Then it was out to socialize at the Swiss Cocktails at the Hotel Olympia, near the Maison de la Culture. There was a significant queue and I didn’t get in until after 6:30pm, and then didn’t recognize anyone in the crowded room. My least favourite scenario. Luckily, I knew that Gina from Show Me Shorts was coming, and I’d also arranged to meet up with Eibh Collins (of the Galway Film Fleadh, Indie Cork, and more). Even luckier, before that Sven Schwartz (from the Hamburg Short Film Festival and A Wall is a Screen) recognized me and we chatted for a while. He slipped me an invite to the German party which is happening tomorrow night, too. I lost track of Gina quite quickly, but Eibh was lovely and we talked about my upcoming Irish shorts screening, Cork, ADIFF, and more. She also introduced me to Una Feely and James Mulvey from Indie Cork. I also got to meet Sebastian Simon from the Busan International Short Film Festival in Korea. He’s a filmmaker as well as a programmer, and he recognized our logo and said he submitted (unsuccessfully) a few years ago!

I also ran into Jason Anderson from TIFF, and it was nice to chat with him a bit. It’s strange how it’s often easier to meet someone you know locally when you’re both far from home. After a couple of hours, I was tired and decided to leave. On my way out, Ben Bekke Vandendaele recognized me. He’s the co-producer on Deer Boy, by my friend Katarzyna Gondek, and we met just a few weeks ago at Sundance. He also heads up Radiator Sales, so I should talk to him about submitting some films for our festival this year. And then one of the Swiss Films women who were hosting the event introduced herself to me. Aida Suljicic is the Head of Programmes, and I plan to meet up with her again one day this week in the short film market.

So although I felt like my usual introverted self, reading this back I didn’t actually do too poorly. I’ve made a few connections that I can take into tomorrow and the rest of the week. Although I left the party alone and without plans for the rest of the night, I feel pretty good. I can always use more rest.

By the way, I spotted my elusive mentor Danny Lennon on his way into the party but then couldn’t find him later. I’m sure once I find him, he’ll help me kick up the socializing into another gear, but I’m happy to be home writing this blog entry before 10:00pm.