The Irish Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFF), the first “stand-alone” Irish film fest to be presented in the city, begins today and runs until Sunday, October 5, at the Clarity Theater in Beverly Hills.
The festival will open with the West Coast premiere of Eden (to be distributed in the US by Liberation Entertainment). Directed by Declan Recks and adapted by Eugene O'Brien from his own play, Eden follows a small-town married couple as they prepare for their 10th anniversary. Eileen Walsh (best actress winner at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival) and Aidan Kelly star.
Also of particular interest are:
Tom Collins' Kings, the first Irish-language film ever submitted in the Academy Awards' best foreign language film category. Kings, which earned a record 14 Irish Film and Television Award nominations in 2008, chronicles the lives of six ambitious Irishmen who'd once dreamed of becoming rich in the construction industry of 1970s London. Starring Colm Meaney, Donal O'Kelly, Brendan Conroy, Barry Barnes, and Donncha Crowley, Kings ended up winning five Irish Film awards, including best editing (Dermot Diskin) and best supporting actor (Conroy).
A rare screening of the 1964 drama The Luck of Ginger Coffey, starring Robert Shaw and Mary Ure. Directed by Irvin Kershner, who later moved to Hollywood (The Eyes of Laura Mars, The Empire Strikes Back), The Luck of Ginger Coffey is based on Belfast-born writer and Malibu resident Brian Moore's autobiographical novel about an Irish emigrant longing for personal freedom.
The West Coast premiere of Louis Lentin's Grandpa…. Speak to Me in Russian and Valerie Lapin's Shalom Ireland. In the former, director Lentin uncovers his family's history and the world of the Jewish shtetl, while in the latter director Lapin presents a portrait of Ireland's small Jewish community, with a soundtrack that mixes traditional Irish and Klezmer sounds.
Gerard Hurley's The Pride takes place in a small gypsy (a.k.a. “Irish traveler”) community in Upstate New York, where a man (played by Hurley) returns from prison determined to win back his estranged wife (Nancy McNulty).
And three silent films:
- A newly-formatted HD version of John Ford's 1924 epic Western about the building of the transcontinental railroad, The Iron Horse, starring George O'Brien and Madge Bellamy.
- Sidney Olcott's 1910 production A Lad from Old Ireland, reportedly the first American production filmed abroad. The film is about an Irishman who returns to Ireland after making his fortune in the United States just in time to save his betrothed and her family as they're about to be evicted from their land. A Lad from Old Ireland stars Olcott and Gene Gauntier.
- Norman Whitten's 1920 quasi-religious drama In the Days of St. Patrick, about the 4th-century man who went from prince to slave to priest, and who is credited for converting pagan Ireland to Christianity. Whether that's such a good thing is debatable, but this rare film is a must-see. Both Irish silents will be accompanied by composer and conductor Eimear Noone.
The Clarity Theater is located at 100 N. Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills. $3 parking at the theater is available through the entrance on Crescent Drive (one block north of Wilshire).
Tickets are available at www.lairishfilm.com.