The pandemic is starting to recede in our rear-view mirrors, and we hope you'll return for our first proper Ciné Gael season in several years. The series that our film programmers have assembled is an exciting fresh look at recent Irish filmmaking.
In 1992, the Cultural Committee of the St. Patrick's Society of Montréal received a proposal from film-buff Anthony Kirby that Montréal needed an Irish film series. The committee agreed to fund the wildly hysterical plans of Lynn Doyle, Patrick Vallely and several other miscreants, to form and run a film society devoted to showing Irish Films.
The name Ciné Gael Montréal was proposed and scheduling and film selection started, with outside assistance coming from Fr. Marc Gervais SJ, Peter Rist, Ben Queenan and most importantly, the film archives and screening facilities at Concordia University. Early in 1993, we screened our first film.
On our 20th anniversary, when we asked our members to tell us the film from our past seasons that we should show again, it was that first film.
Read more about our history,
written by Dana Hearne on our 10th
and our 15th anniversary, as well as John Griffin's
article from the Gazette,
written on our 20
84 min - Dir: Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy with: Bríd Ní Neachtain, Cillian O'Gairbhi, Lorcan Cranitch, Ruadhán de Faoite, Michelle Beamish
:: Guest Speaker:
Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy formed a creative partnership in college in 1990. After five successful short films they made their feature debut in 2015. Traders is a darkly comic take on the lengths people go to survive in a post Celtic Tiger Ireland. Starring Killian Scott (Dublin Murders, '71) and John Bradley (Game of Thrones), the film was described by The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw as "an ingenious and macabre debut." Traders was released in Irish cinemas and was acquired by HBO for Cinemax in the US. It was part of BBC THREE's alternative Christmas schedule in 2016.
Traders won The Audience Award at the Belfast Film Festival and The Orbit Award at the Brussels Fantasic Film Festival.
Their second film, Róise & Frank, shows their desire to find lightness in the darker areas of the human experience, but with a resolutely positive approach. Their aim was to make a film about grief and what some consider "excessive grief". They both personally knew people who had talked about "visits" from birds or other animals after the death of a loved one and that was the kernel that inspired this film. What if they weren't fleeting visits? What if someone really came back? What then? Róise says it in the film - "none of us know what happens after we die." Grief is universal but how we deal with it is individual, and this story is about a dog who helps a woman process her grief and embrace life again.
"You'd need a shard of ice in your heart not to be charmed even just a little by this eccentric
Irish-language comedy: a warm-hearted tale about a woman who believes that a stray dog is
the reincarnation of her dead husband."
"A heartfelt and charming comedy. "
- Film Ireland Magazine
"We have moved a long way from the unkind - and always inaccurate - caricature of Irish films
as having too much to do with rural priests tumbling into fetid ponds. Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy,
working in the Irish language, have here managed to slip a pondering of the grieving process
in with the most delightfully airy comedy.
The film toys with whimsy, but it is always at home to emotional honesty. There are worthwhile arguments being made about the difficulty of remaining connected to the bereaved when the wider family has moved on.
Shot in the Gaeltacht area of Ring, Co Waterford, Róise & Frank profits from Peter Robertson's crisp cinematography and from committed acting in every corner. Part of a still-developing renaissance in Irish-language film-making, the picture really does justify the most dreaded phrase in cinema promotion. It is "fun for all the family". Don't let that truth put you off." - Irish Times [Donald Clarke]
It is two years since Róise lost the love of her life, her husband Frank. She is now isolated in grief,
cut off from family and community. The arrival of a mysterious dog, who seems intent on
connecting with Róise, heralds huge change but is it for the better? The dog loves sport and steaks,
has a favourite armchair and an aversion to their neighbour, Donncha.
Róise quickly realises that this dog is her beloved Frank, reincarnated. While her son worries that his mother has lost her mind, the local community seem to embrace the idea of Frank's return, especially as he coaches a shy local kid to become a star player and ensure success for the school team. Róise is happy once more but is there a real future for her with a dog-husband?
WINNER of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2022 AUDIENCE AWARD;
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2022;
BEST FEATURE FILM, BEST DIRECTOR and BEST ACTRESS at the Stockholm City Film Festival 2022;
BEST FEMALE FEATURE FILM WRITER, Rachael Moriarty, at the Paris Women's Festival 2022;
BEST FEATURE NARRATIVE (LONG), BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY, BEST CHILD ACTOR, and Honourable Mentions for BEST LEAD ACTRESS and BEST LEAD ACTOR at the American Golden Picture International Film Festival, March 2022
The 34th: The Story of Marriage Equality in Ireland
(78 mins documentary) Written and Directed by Linda Cullen, Vanessa Gildea
"The 34th is a unique and masterful ensemble of some of Ireland's most fearless and
influential gay rights activists and their bumpy road towards marriage equality in a state
that is generally viewed as socially conservative."
"This has absolutely everything a documentary needs to have...it's educational, emotional,
engaging, enlightening and entertaining...with technical expertise to boot!
This is history...and, at the core, a love story...between two rather remarkable women. Without them, Ireland's fight for equality could have been delayed for decades!" cgiii.com
The 34th tells the story of the driven and dedicated people who formed Marriage Equality in Ireland, and developed it into a highly effective grassroots force with one clear goal in mind - the extension of Civil Marriage to same sex couples. Through revealing interviews and archive material, former board members and staff outline the strategising, fierce battles, sheer hard work and personal cost of running such an all-consuming campaign.
Spanning a decade that culminated in the 34th amendment to the Irish constitution, Linda Cullen and Vanessa Gildea's IFTA-nominated documentary feature follows the founders and members of the Marriage Equality organisation, as they campaigned for the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.
The 34th captures this impassioned and poignant journey from Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan's pivotal KAL case and the emotional love story behind it, through the ardent grassroots campaign, to the historic yes vote which took place on May 22nd, 2015. (Eleanor Melinn - IFI)
The film opened at the 25th GAZE International LGBT Film Festival, where it was highlighted by the panel as the film that best embodied the spirit of the festival and honoured with the 'Spirit of Gaze Award' along with the 'Audience Award'.
When Women Won
(52 mins, documentary) Dir: Anna Rodgers
"Films like this are necessary to document the fight, and the trauma, people experienced to get us to this point in Irish history. Maybe things will be better going forward, when the next generation don't realise this was something earned. Rodgers' documentary serves as a souvenir to the people who fought for the vote and is a great representation of when, and why women won." Film Ireland [Aoife O'Ceallachain]
"Story-telling is central to the documentary and the campaign. From the stories shared
by grieving parents to traumatised mothers to young women, the campaign's message all along
is one of compassion and empathy.
When Women Won is not the whole story but a token of appreciation for those who fought hard and for those who have already suffered so much. It is a moment of reflection, a point for people in Ireland who have long felt cast aside or excluded from conversations about their bodily autonomy, to pause, look around, and be proud. When Women Won is a punctuation in a long journey and no one can deny that it is worth celebrating." Tintean [Enya Moore]
Based on interviews, smartphone footage and recreations, When Women Won highlights the moment that galvanised Ireland towards a referendum, the death of Savita Halappanavar. Savita was a dentist living in Galway who developed sepsis. She was pregnant and doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy because a foetal heartbeat was present. Savita passed away soon after this. Rodgers shows footage of the vigil and it sent goosebumps up my arms. Shots of women chanting shame outside the Dáil (Houses of Parliament) placed guilt on the politicians and the public for our complicity in her death. We didn't speak up soon enough.
When Women Won is a documentary that offers a behind-the-scenes look into the Together for Yes campaign. The national civil society campaign, made up of over 70 organisations, groups and communities, was launched to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the Irish Constitution which recognised the equal right to life of the woman and the unborn child, effectively banning abortion in Ireland. When Women Won tells the story of the campaign and the power of grassroots activism.
The documentary spotlights a moment of celebration for women in a long and painful history of the treatment of women in Ireland. Footage from previous campaigns, marches, speeches and debates, both historical and contemporary, is interspersed with interviews from Together for Yes campaign team, including key activists and co-directors Orla O'Connor, Grainne Griffin, Ailbhe Smyth.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Irish Film Festival Boston
84 min - Dir: Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy with the voices of: Bríd Ní Neachtain, Cillian O'Gairbhi, Lorcan Cranitch, Ruadhán de Faoite, Michelle Beamish
:: Guest Speaker:
Máirtín is from Navan, County Meath, in Ireland. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation and Editing from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and a PhD from Trinity College, Dublin. As well as serving as editor for the Irish literary journal Comhar and the peer-reviewed academic annual Comhar Taighde, he has held positions in the National University of Ireland, Galway; University College, Dublin; and the University of Toronto. He was appointed Assistant Professor of the Irish Language and its Cultures in 2020.
Máirtín is interested in modern literature in its widest sense. He has published academic essays on violence and humour in fiction, ethical criticism, community theatre and children's literature, among other things; his work has appeared in periodicals such New Hibernia Review and The American Journal of Irish Studies, and in edited volumes such as The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance and Úrscéalta na Gaeilge [The Novels of the Irish Language].
His first monograph, Titley (2019), examines the work of the foremost
contemporary writer of the Irish language and was shortlisted for the Oireachtas
Book of the Year award.
Currently, Máirtín is working on a research project on the ethics and the internationality of translation in minority languages, with a focus on Irish.
He welcomes prospective graduate and post-doctoral students who share any of his interests, in particular those interested in Irish-language material.
Máirtín is also a creative writer, with poetry and short stories published
in literary journals Comhar, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review and Gorse.
A number of his poems feature in the anthology Calling Cards (Gallery Press, 2019),
with translations by Paul Muldoon.
Recently, a bilingual edition of his poem 'Cumhdach' [Shrine] was published as a limited edition letterpress chapbook by Kelly Library in the University of Toronto.
He is currently working on an Irish-language detective novel.
"Here is an animated film that finds new beauty in ancient traditions; a film that fights back against the temptation to surrender what little magic this world still has left, and fulfills Cartoon Saloon's promise along the way." - indieWire [David Ehrlich]
"Its spell is irresistible. " - TIME Magazine Magazine [Stephanie Zacharek]
"It's glorious, gorgeous, and more than a little profound."
- New York Magazine/Vulture
"To watch Wolfwalkers is to dive into visual splendor." - Vox [Alissa Wilkinson]
In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack. While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night. As they search for Mebh's missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the Wolfwalkers and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
83 min - Dir: Chiara Viale with: Cilléin McEvoy, Patrick O'Brien, Jack Fenton and Martina Babišová
:: Guest Speakers:
Chiara Viale is a writer, director and producer based in Ireland since 2015.
After obtaining a BA degree in English as a Foreign Language and Literature in Milan,
she went on to study screenwriting in Dublin.
Chiara has written a number of features
and short film scripts, and started directing her own films in 2016.
Her first feature film, The New Music,
was released in 2019.
In 2017 she co-founded, with Cilléin Mc Evoy, the Irish film production company Built To Fail Productions.
Her feature directorial debut, The New Music, won the Spirit Of IndieCork Award in 2019 and is distributed Worldwide by SMP Distribution. Her latest feature screenplay 11 Ragman Street was developed with the assistance of Screen Ireland.
Cilléin is an actor, director and producer from Dublin, Ireland.
Graduated in Film And Media at QMU, Scotland, Cilléin has a PG Cert in Creative Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from TCD, Dublin. His acting training includes the Abbey School Of Drama in Dublin and he has been working for screen and stage since 2014.
Cilléin has written several short films, including From Childhood's Hour and Clear The Air.
Co-founder of Idiosync, Philip Kidd, is a filmmaker, producer and editor with a passion for Human Rights.
He has been an animator for Nick Jr, video content producer for brands like Facebook and Linkedin, as well as a livestream video technician on events by Google and PwC, among others.
Recently he shot, edited & produced the award-winning feature The New Music, now streaming on Amazon and Apple Tv+.
"There are some moments of genuine feeling in this uneven Dublin-set indie
about a classical pianist who joins the punk scene after being diagnosed
with early-onset Parkinson's. … it's a film made with warmth and sincerity,
and the energy of the soundtrack by local bands helps along the awkward bits."
"David Sangster's score is really enjoyable, and this is obviously
of paramount importance for a film where the healing power of music is a central element
of the plot. Chiara Viale's debut feature is a brave work, a little independent film with a big heart. "
- Film cineuropa.org
After a Parkinson's diagnosis a classically trained pianist embarks on a path of self discovery leading him to a punk band. Their rebellious lifestyle and music provide a distraction to his troubles and a sharp contrast to his old life.
Classically trained pianist Adrian (Cilléin Mc Evoy) has a promising career ahead of him, all to be taken away after a Young Onset Parkinson's diagnosis. With fears of their reactions he runs away from the control of his up-tight family, destination Dublin. He embarks on a path of self discovery leading him to the punk band The Cellmates, who are everything but up-tight. Their rebellious lifestyle and punchy music provides a lively and exciting distraction to his troubles and a sharp, freeing, contrast to his previous life.
The New Music by Chiara Viale snagged the Spirit of IndieCork Film Award - IndieCork 2019
The prestigious Spirit of IndieCork Film Award went to Chiara Viale's debut feature, The New Music. The Italian filmmaker penned and directed the story of Adrian (played by Dublin-born actor Cilléin McEvoy), a talented pianist whose life starts to fall apart after he is diagnosed with Young-onset Parkinson's Disease.
85 min - Dir: Ken Wardrop (documentary)
:: Guest Speaker:
Alexander Albury is a PhD Candidate in the Psychology Department at Concordia University
in Montreal, in the Penhune Lab for Motor Learning and Neural Plasticity.
His primary research focuses on how musical complexity influences how much we enjoy music, and how this relationship affects how we learn to play an instrument.
Albury uses machine learning methods to estimate musical complexity, and his planned research will investigate neural mechanisms linking complexity, reward, and motor learning.
His other interests include, teaching, mentoring, science communication, and data science. When he's not doing research, you’ll find him wrapped up in one of these pursuits. More to read at Albury's website, www.alexalbury.com.
"The vision of the world expressed here is warm and lovely, full of irrepressible positivity. While all negativity is excluded from Wardrop's vision, life's darkness hovers outside the artfully constructed frame." - Guardian [Cath Clarke]
"A heartfelt and charming comedy. " - Sunday Times (UK) [Katy Hayes]
"Reserves a nice spot alongside Être et Avoir and Monsieur Lazhar as one the great, affecting films about teaching." - Irish Times [Tara Brady]
"Ken Wardrop's documentary 'Making the Grade' is a love letter to piano teaching." - Hollywood Reporter [Harry Windsor]
"Wardrop's latest film uses the seemingly innocuous subject of piano lessons as the platform for an... absorbing human journey." - The Independent [Paul Whitington]
The musical educational system in Ireland is explored, where over 30,000 students prepare
for graded piano exams each year.
Making The Grade invites us into the world of the piano lesson. Every year teachers and students throughout Ireland prepare for graded musical exams. These exams can be pleasing for some but daunting for others. Each student has their own particular goal but reaching Grade Eight is considered a pinnacle. This endearing and uplifting documentary explores the bond between piano teachers and their pupils as they struggle through these grades. This is a story of the trans-formative power of music and the pride and happiness it provides both the students and teachers. It may inspire us all to keep making the grade.
Anyone who's ever struggled to nail a crotchet will feel nostalgic watching Irish documentary Making The Grade, an elegant tribute to piano teachers and their charges. Footage from lessons is intercut with interviews in which students discuss working with their teachers, and vice versa. A traditional approach to this subject might have centered around a few key characters, but director-lenser Ken Wardrop instead checks in with (and promptly leaves behind) dozens of student-teacher combos, and frequently doesn't even bother to introduce them. Ascending through the grades in a series of vignettes, the film is chock full of precocious but hugely likable and articulate kids, as well as drily exacting teachers, and the warmth displayed by both young and old makes it a persuasive advertisement for the humanizing power of musical instruction.
86 min - Dir: Tomás Ó Súilleabháin with: Dónall Ó Héalaí, Saise Ní Chuinn, Dara Devaney
"… [Ó Súilleabháin]… pulls off an authentic drama/thriller, with a powerful impact." - Screen Daily
"...unmissable" and "beautifully crafted." - The Irish Times
"...this well acted and beautifully scored film is born of the land itself," calling the film "an austere and implacable drama about finding hope when all else is lost." - Little White Lies
"...an enigmatic mood piece" with a "brilliant cast" and a "haunting intensity of its remote countryside setting in the coastal region of Connemara". - Filmuforia.co.uk
"...fiercely impressive feature debut" from director Tom Sullivan, one that has a "real feeling of authenticity". - Film Ireland
"...a searingly austere film which deserves the widest possible audience" after its UK Premiere at Glasgow Film Festival. - Into Films
"The near mythical quality of the closing images emphasises its place in a great tradition." - Irish Times [Donald Clarke]
Arracht (Irish meaning: "Monster") is a 2019 Irish period drama film directed and written by Tomás Ó Súilleabháin set during the Great Famine of Ireland. It was selected as the Irish entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.
Connemara, 1845. Colmán Sharkey lives with his wife and infant son on the Atlantic coast where they subsist on the fish he catches with his brother Sean and the potatoes grown on the family farm. He is persuaded to take on Patsy Kelly, who has recently left the Royal Navy under suspicious circumstances, as a farmhand and fisherman. Word has spread of a blight affecting the potato crop as far as the Midlands, leading to widespread famine. The blight soon reaches Connemara, where the potato crops wither in the fields. The local landlord increases rents and sends two armed men to Colmán's home to collect. Patsy disarms one of them but is pressured by Colmán into relinquishing the gun as Colmán requests a meeting with the landlord.
Annual Short Film Evening :: Guest Speakers:
Heather and Kester, both Concordia Canadian Irish Studies alumni, are our programmers for our Short Films evening; have been for a long time. This is as big a job as programming the remainder of our season.
Nothing To Declare (2021)
(Documentary, 29 mins) Dir: Garret Daly
The charming story of two Irish boys aged 10 and 13 on a stowaway adventure of a lifetime from Dublin to New York in the summer of 1985.
The Forty Foot (2021)
(Animation, 3 mins) Dir: Patrick O'Callaghan
An exploration of The Forty Foot, an iconic sea swimming area on the Dublin coast.
Wednesday's Child (2022) (Drama, 10 mins) Dir: Laura O'Shea Marie faces her first day working in Child Protection. Despite her optimism, a house call quickly brings her down to reality.
Sucking Diesel (2022)
(Drama, 11 mins) Dir: Sam McGrath
After a bungled robbery, a petrol station owner must decide whether to protect her idiot employee or turn him over to the most dangerous man in Ballybeg.
For The Birds (2022)
(Documentary, 9 mins) Dir: Ciaran O'Connor
Esther, who regularly feeds dozens of pigeons outside her small house, tells us about parenthood, sin, and past secrets.
(Animation, 4 mins) Dir: Aisling Conroy
A woman questions her lifestyle choices when the travails of urban living are one day jolted into juxtaposition with a simpler way of life.
An Irish Goodbye (2022)
(Drama, 23 mins) Dir: Tom Berkeley and Ross White
with: Seamus O'Hara, James Martin, Paddy Jenkins, Michelle Fairley
In rural Northern Ireland, a pair of estranged brothers reunite following their mother's untimely death. ...watch trailer
Oscar nomination interview ...watch interview
BAFTA Film Awards ...watch awards
90 min - Dir: Adam Low with: Seamus Heaney, family, and friends
"… a gorgeous, almost luxurious documentary about one of the all-time greats. While it stands as an excellent tribute to the man and his work, it acts, too, as a history of the second half of the 20th century, laying out the Troubles through anecdote and verse.
Hearing his poetry read by him, with the voices of the people they were for or about woven through, is stirring. More than once, I had to choke down a tear.
This is a beautiful film. When Longley talks about the heartbreak at the loss of his old friend, he says, simply, "I thought we were all going to go on forever, you know." - The Guardian [Rebecca Nicholson]
"This documentary showed Seamus Heaney as a humble and extremely talented
writer who was able to capture Ireland - the good, the bad and the ugly, but capture it nonetheless."
- Film Ireland
"...his poetry always transcended politics, while being deeply informed by the rural community
in which he grew up - where Protestant and Catholic families intermingled and farming was practised
much as it had been for centuries. As one Harvard colleague put it: 'He never pretended to be a farmer,
but he never pretended he hadn't been a farmer.'"
"His career progressed in tandem with the Troubles. 'By 1969, Belfast really was in flames,'
Longley recalls, in protest at the Province's 'invisible apartheid'.
'Do you think I'm the only Prod here?' he joked to Heaney on a civil rights march."
- Financial Times
Throughout the documentary, Heaney's work is placed in the forefront of the film. His writing is read aloud by his family, friends and colleagues giving the poems a second lease of life. Heaney's voice throughout the documentary takes over from the speaker and usually ends the poetry, again giving the viewer the unique opportunity to connect with both poem and writer as one entity. - FilmIreland [Aoife O'Neill]