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Fifth Annual Boston Irish Film Festival

Now entering its fifth year, the Boston Irish Film Festival continues to celebrate the very best new screen works from or about Ireland and the Irish. This year’s festival is pleased to present the first ever BIFF Awards in three categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary, and Best Short Fiction/Animation, with an honorary Director’s Choice award. The festival’s opening night film, Puckoon, plays at the Brattle Theatre on Thursday, April 24. Jim Sheridan’s In American closes the festival at the Coolidge Corner Theater on Monday, April 28. All other programs are screened here at the Harvard Film Archive. For further details please visit

April 25 (Friday) 7:30 pm
Special Event: All tickets $10
Reception following screening
Director Dan McCarthy in Person

Irish Eyes

Directed by Dan McCarthy
US 2002, 35mm, color, 110 min.
With Daniel Baldwin, John Novak, Wings Hauser

Set in Boston, this explosive crime drama follows the divergent careers of two Irish-American brothers, mobster Sean (Baldwin) and district attorney Thomas (Novak). Torn apart by personal and professional differences, the brothers find themselves uneasily aligned when Thomas is implicated in illegal fundraising with the Irish mob. Milton native Dan McCarthy, who wrote and directed the film, offers an affectionate yet dark portrait of the Boston Irish in which the shadows of Billy and Whitey Bulger loom large.

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April 26 (Saturday) 2 pm

Moving Day

Directed by Rob Burke and Yousef Eldin
Ireland 2002, video, color, 13 min.

When his parents decide to move, young William is forced to say good-bye to his best friend, Jack—but not without a fight. Clever, inventive, and ultimately moving, this short film is perfect for children and adults alike.

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April 26 (Saturday) 2 pm

Give Up Yer Aul Sins — The Animated Series

Directed by Darragh O’Connell
Ireland 2002, video, color, 60 min.

The runaway success of last year’s animated short Give Up Yer Aul Sins has led to an entire series of the innocently warped Bible stories, originally told by Dublin schoolchildren in the 1960s and given new life by producer-director team Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O’Connell. Included here are seven stories, ranging from the life of St. Patrick to the birth of Jesus to the resurrection of Lazarus, as well as a thirty-minute documentary that details the history of these celebrated recordings and their new incarnation as animated classics.

April 26 (Saturday) 2 pm

Living The Revolution

Directed by Adrian McCarthy
Ireland 2002, video, color, 51 min.
With Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris

Documentarian Adrian McCarthy provides this revealing glimpse into Sinn Fein during the 2002 general election in Ireland. Focusing on the party’s North Kerry candidate, Martin Ferris, McCarthy peels back the campaign posturing to reveal a man caught between a violent past in the IRA and a political future with the ongoing peace process. The result is an eyewitness portrait of contemporary Irish nationalism—politically committed to peace but as yet unwilling to put down the gun.

The Green Fields of Vietnam

Directed by Anne Roper
Ireland 2002, video, color, 52 min.

This documentary tells the story of an estimated 2,000 Irishmen who fought and died during the American war in Vietnam. All were poor Catholic immigrants who had come to the United States in the 1960s and either enlisted voluntarily or were drafted. Using archival footage and interviews with survivors, director Anne Roper retraces their steps, examining their newfound loyalty to America and the terrible consequences that awaited them in Vietnam.

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April 26 (Saturday) 4 pm
Best Documentary
Director Ian Thuillier in Person


Directed by Ian Thuillier
Ireland, 2002, video, color, 52 min.

Ian Thuillier’s debut documentary is a moving tribute to his late bother, fine-arts photographer Harry Thuillier. With unusual access to his subject’s life, Thuillier constructs an intimate, deeply moving portrait of an artist on the edge, from his earliest days as a student in the United States (including a brief stint at Mass College of Art, Boston) to his tragic and controversial death in Italy from an overdose of heroin. Exquisitely made and sensitively told, Darkroom probes deep into its troubled subject, providing insight into the artistic imagination and the disaffection and loneliness that often accompanies it.

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April 26 (Saturday) 5:30 pm
Director’s Choice Award
Director Dierdre Lynch in Person

Photos to Send

Directed by Dierdre Lynch
US 2002, video, color, 89 min.

In 1954, world-renowned photographer Dorothea Lange traveled to County Clare, Ireland, on assignment for Life magazine. She took 2,400 photographs, creating a lasting record of a rural way of life that would soon disappear. Irish-American cinematographer Dierdre Lynch retraces Lange’s footsteps, traveling the country roads to visit many of the same people Lange met nearly half a century ago and using the photographs to unlock the poignant—sometimes humorous, sometimes painful—memories of another era. What emerges is a sensitive and moving portrait of men and women who chose to stay on their land no matter what the price.

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April 26 (Saturday) 7:30 pm
Director David Elio Malocco in Person


Directed by David Elio Malocco
Ireland 2002, video, color, 90 min.
With Aisling Farrell, Frances Healy, Fran Brennan

Set in Dublin, this searing drama follows the lives of several prostitutes as they ply their trade on the city’s nighttime streets. Maggie (Farrell) has plans to emigrate to Australia, but her boyfriend runs off with their savings, leaving her alone and more desperate than ever. Dalena (Healy) is addicted to cocaine and has fallen foul of her brutal dealer. Unable to escape their lives, both women find a locus with Gizmo (Brennan), the moribund owner of the Magdalen nightclub, the film’s central backdrop. Director David Elio Malocco has crafted an unflinching and provocative look at Dublin’s criminal underbelly, a rare and powerful film.

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April 26 (Saturday) 8 pm

The Ghost of Roger Casement

Directed by Alan Gilsenan
Ireland 2002, video, color, 90 min.

One of the key figures in the 1916 Rising, Roger Casement was a servant of the British Empire, a knighted nobleman who turned Irish rebel when faced with the inexcusable cruelty of the British presence in Ireland. But while Casement is today regarded as one of the great humanitarians of the twentieth century, in 1916 he was denounced as a homosexual by the British establishment and hung for treason in the Tower of London. Filmmaker Alan Gilsenan frames his documentary with the continuing controversy over Casement’s alleged sexuality, but his real concerns lie with the legacy of the Casement affair and the ghosts that continue to haunt contemporary Anglo-Irish relations.

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April 26 (Saturday) 9:30 pm
Best Feature Narrative
Director Marion Comer and Producer Winnie Li in Person


Directed by Marion Comer
Ireland/UK 2002, 35mm, color, 80 min.
With Tom Jordan Murphy, Jim Norton, Catherine Cusack

Based on several real-life accounts, this searing drama explores the ambiguous role of the Catholic Church in the North’s political struggle for freedom. Father Brendan (Murphy) is an idealistic young priest called to an abandoned house to hear the last confession of a suspected informer awaiting execution by the IRA. Refusing to let the man be murdered, Brendan sets in motion a chain of events that will expose not only the Church’s collusion with terrorists but the fundamental hypocrisy at the heart of Catholic nationalism. Writer-director Marion Comer has created a highly complex, emotionally charged film, whose tension builds effortlessly to a stunning and all too inevitable climax.

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April 27 (Sunday) 2 pm

Harry Clarke — Darkness In Light

Directed by John J. Doherty
Ireland 2002, video, color, 52 min.

Harry Clarke is today regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest artists, a master craftsman whose stained glass windows and book illustrations created a beautifully baroque and sensuous universe of religious and fairy-tale motifs. Documentarian John J. Doherty examines Clarke’s life and the controversial nature of his work, culminating in his clash with the conservative Irish Free State over his "offensive" masterpiece, the Geneva Window. Visually rich and poetically told, Darkness in Light is a fitting showcase for Clarke’s unique and haunting vision.

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April 27 (Sunday) 2 pm

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Directed by Tim Fernee
UK 2002, video, color, 25 min.

Influenced by the stained glass designs of Harry Clarke, this beautifully animated short tells the Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


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April 27 (Sunday) 3:30 pm
Directors Lyell Davies and Brendan Fay in Person

Who’s Not Irish?

Directed by Lyell Davies
US 2002, video, color, 27 min.

For more than a decade now, gay and lesbian participants have been excluded from Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade by the event’s organizers, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. This documentary follows the founding of an alternative, "all-inclusive" parade in Queens by the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO). A celebration of the gay Irish community, the parade is a focal point for activists and a proud rebuff to the prejudice and discrimination of conservative Irish America.

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April 27 (Sunday) 3:30 pm

Remembering Robert

Directed by Mark Corcoran, Lyell Davies, Brendan Fay
US 2001, video, color, 22 min.

This touching documentary centers on Stanley and Kathleen Ryger, an Irish American couple who tell the tragic story of their gay son Robert, a spokesperson for ACT-UP who died from AIDS. Forced to come to terms with their own homophobia, Stanley and Kathleen are now gay rights activists and honor the memory of their son with this loving tribute. Life, they inform us, is far too short to allow fear and prejudice to limit to our abilities to love.

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April 27 (Sunday) 4 pm
Directors Paul Goudreau and Christine Hurson in Person

20 Feet over Belfast: The War of Art in Northern Ireland

Directed by Paul Goudreau and Christine Hurson
US 2002, video, color, 25 min.

Since the partition of Ireland in 1924, Northern Ireland has been the site of intense social, religious, and political division. The sentiments of its inhabitants—their fears and hatreds—have found expression in the giant murals that, depending on one’s viewpoint, either decorate or defame the walls of working-class neighborhoods in Derry and Belfast. This documentary explores the meanings of these murals and the conflicting reactions they provoke.

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April 27 (Sunday) 4 pm

The Forgotten Ten (An Deichniur Dearmadta)

Directed by Rosie Nic Cionnaith
Ireland 2002, video, b/w and color, 75 min.
Irish with English subtitles

Between 1920 and 1921, during Ireland’s War of Independence, the British government executed ten young men in Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison. Charged as criminals, they were buried in prison soil, where their bodies lay for eighty years. In 2001 the bodies were finally exhumed and returned to family members. This compelling, emotionally charged documentary traces the lives of the "forgotten ten," the prolonged campaign to have their bodies released, and the state funeral that brought closure to an eighty-year history of historical erasure and social injustice.

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April 27 (Sunday) 5 pm
Best Short/Animation (From Darkness)
Director/Animator Nora Twomey in Person

2003 Shorts Program

These entries on the short list for this year’s Best Short/Animation award represent the very best of Ireland’s newest wave of film and video makers. Steven Benedict’s The Last is a beautifully photographed and deeply moving story about an aging shoemaker (David Kelly) whose final wish is to fulfill a promise he made fifty years ago. John O’Donnell’s The First Television is a crackpot comedy about an eccentric miser’s quest to purchase his first-ever television. Cathy, by Neil Dowling, is a dreamlike tale of young woman’s encounter with a golf-playing angel in Dublin. Kevin Jakubowski’s Round Two wisecracks philosophically on the virtues of hard drinking, while Diarmuid Goggin’s dark and affecting Nell tells the story of an embittered woman who seeks revenge on her neighbor for stealing away the man she loved. The award for Best Short/Animation goes to Nora Twomey’s From Darkness, an imaginative and lyrical retelling of an Inuit legend about a lonely fisherman who drifts into haunted waters. Program length: 81 min.

April 27 (Sunday) 7:30 pm

Disco Pigs

Directed by Kirsten Sheridan
Ireland 2001, 35mm, color, 93 min.
With Elaine Cassidy, Cillian Murphy, Brian F. O’Byrne

This highly original and deeply moving drama, an out-of-competition addition to the festival, follows the unusual relationship between two exceptional teens, Pig (Murphy) and Runt (Cassidy). Born on the same day in the same hospital, the two—inseparable from birth—develop their own unique universe and a language only they can understand. Puberty brings with it sexual longing, however, and their relationship, once so sacred, grows increasingly unstable. Director Kirsten Sheridan (daughter of Jim) displays great sensitivity with the material, based on the stage play by Enda Walsh, creating a film that is at once a beautiful fairy tale and a ferociously twisted teenpic.

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