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Ciné Gael Montréal Irish Film Series 1999

Our 1999 Season actually opened in December 1998 with Dancing at Lugnasa. 1999 proper got underway with click to read more...

Friday, Dec 18th, 1998
 :: Opening Evening of Season
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) 94 mins Dir: Pat O'Connor, based on Brian Friel's play with Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Gerard McSorley.

poster ` Meryl Streep has made many a grand acting gesture in her career, but the way she simply peers out a window in Dancing at Lughnasa ranks with the best. Everything the viewer need know about Kate Mundy, the woman she plays here, is written on that prim, lonely face and its flabbergasted gaze.

Among the five unmarried sisters who are the subject of Brian Friel's play (and who are named for his own mother and aunts), it is Kate who wears her unmarried status least comfortably. And it is Kate who radiates the most wistful, turbulent emotions while watching younger, prettier Christina (Catherine McCormack) dance with a lover.

still 01 "Her whole face alters when she's happy," Kate whispers about Christina in astonishment, speaking almost to herself. It is as if this furiously upright schoolteacher, the sister who has taken it upon herself to champion rectitude in the small Irish village where Mr. Friel's play unfolds, had discovered the sweetness of Christina's flirtatious exuberance and the chill of her own loneliness as if for the very first time.

Set in Donegal in 1936 and made poignant by the hindsight of narration, Dancing at Lughnasa preserves the author's memories of a world about to change irrevocably, filled with hints of foreboding that made it so powerful an experience on stage. On film, as directed handsomely by Pat O'Connor, it makes for a soaringly scenic film, yet a slightly more diffuse, less haunted drama.

still 02 The play, an actors' heyday, is rich with memories of the sisters and their camaraderie, especially when their fragile fellowship is shaken by the arrivals of two men. While the film begins with a rich evocation of the sisters' rustic chores and rituals in the beautiful, isolated setting they call home, it's clear that these men can change everything. One is Father Jack (Michael Gambon), once the family's bright-eyed brother and now a broken old man, returning from missionary work in Africa and filled with visions of a world his sisters have never seen.

While Mr. Gambon's gently eccentric Jack presides over the story with a mysterious intensity, the other male visitor is more mundane. Gerry Evans (Rhys Ifans) is Christina's handsome, conventionally romantic beau (and the father of Michael, the young man who nostalgically narrates the story). The arrival of Gerry prompts the film into the very sorts of picturesque rhapsodies that give this opened-up drama its postcard appeal while removing the seriousness and sting from events that transpire. - New York Times [Janet Maslin]

Mna na hEireann - Woman of Ireland Film Festival :: Jan. 29 to 31
Friday, January 29th
Titanic Town (1998) 100 mins Dir: Roger Michell
with Julie Walters, Ciarán Hinds.
:: Guest Speaker: screenwriter Anne Devlin
poster Titanic Town is a 1998 film. Ciarán Hinds and Julie Walters play Aidan and Bernie McPhelimy, a mother and father caught in the Northern Ireland Troubles in Belfast (known for building the Titanic, hence the title). Bernie's close friend is killed in the crossfire and so she becomes involved in the peace process.

January 30th  4pm
Mother Ireland (1988) 52 mins Dir: A. Crilly
The first and most famous chapter in an acclaimed documentary series on Ireland's landscapes and traditions, featuring the music of Brian Boydell.

...and at 5pm
The Visit (1992) 22 mins Dir: Orla Walsh
with Magael Mclaughlin
still A powerful drama about a prisoner’s wife in Belfast in 1987. On the way to visit her husband in prison, a Northern Irish woman remembered the events from her seven years of being a republican prisoner’s wife, and the ways in which she has fought against the expectations that the role has forced upon her.
Read a preview on Jstor of Megan Sullivan's review of the film here.
 Arts Council Film Award, 1992
 Cultural Traditions Group Media Prize, 1992
 Best Film (Educational Politics), Oberhausen Film Festival, 1993
 Best Actress, Brest Film Festival, 1993
 Best Film and Best Actress, Huy, Belgium, 1993
 Certificate of Merit, Cork Festival 1993
...and 7 to 9pm
Bent out of Shape (1995) 26 mins Dir: Orla Walsh
with Stuart Dannell Foran, Des O’Byrne
:: Guest Speakers: Orla Walsh and Anne Devlin
still Danny, a gay punk, makes friends with a young bullied boy Stephen but their friendship has consequences...
 Best Irish Short Film, Cork Film Festival
 Best Film, Hamburg Gay and Lesbian Festival
 Audience Award, Galway Film Fleadh
January 31st  12:30 - 2pm
Hoodwinked:Irish Women Since the Twenties (1997) 38 mins Dir: Trish McAdam
...and at 2:30 - 3:30pm
Round Table Discussion
with Anne Devlin, Orla Walsh, and others
February 11th
 :: Members Appreciation Evening
Hurley's Irish Pub - 1225 Crescent 6-8pm
How Far Home? (1997) 38 mins Dir: Brendan Byrne

Screening of Brendan Byrne's documentary on Gerry Conlon.
"One of the most affecting documentaries made in this country in recent years."

still Byrne extended his documentary approach to the study of one man's personal struggle with sanity in How Far Home, about Gerry Conlon, convicted of the 1974 Guildford Pub Bombings, but proved innocent and released after twenty years of imprisonment. In this film the freed and exonerated Conlon was the subject of a sustained psychological examination, which revealed an exhausted man ill equipped to deal with everyday life having been first a prisoner, then a symbol of injustice and political beliefs he felt he did not hold.

He described In the Name of the Father as a millstone around his neck, and Byrne neatly managed to suggest that the human cost of recent history has not been measured enough in terms of its effects on the living.

February 24th
 :: Premiere screening co-hosted at the Cinema Loews
The General (1998) 124 mins Dir: John Boorman, Winner "Best Director" - Cannes Film Festival with Brendan Gleeson, Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball, and Jon Voight

poster The General is an Irish crime film directed by John Boorman about Dublin crime boss Martin Cahill (more on Wiki more), who pulled off several daring heists in the early 1980s, and attracted the attention of the Garda Síochána, IRA, and Ulster Volunteer Force. The film was shot in 1997 and released in 1998. Brendan Gleeson plays Cahill, Adrian Dunbar plays his friend Noel Curley, and Jon Voight plays Inspector Ned Kenny.

Among the five unmarried sisters who are the subject of Brian Friel's play (and who are named for his own mother and aunts), it is Kate who wears her unmarried status least comfortably. And it is Kate who radiates the most wistful, turbulent emotions while watching younger, prettier Christina (Catherine McCormack) dance with a lover.

still 01 After selling stolen paintings to the UVF, Cahill realizes he has made a dangerous mistake. When the PIRA hear of this, they order his assassination, which is carried out on 18 August 1994.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Irish journalist Paul Williams, who is crime editor of Ireland's best-selling tabloid, The Sun.

still 02 Director Boorman was himself one of Cahill's burglary victims. This event is dramatized in a scene in which Cahill breaks into a home, stealing a gold record and pilfering a watch from the wrist of a sleeping woman. The gold record, which Cahill later breaks in disgust after discovering it is not made of gold, was awarded for the score of Deliverance, Boorman's best-known film.

Filming was at various locations around Dublin, including South Lotts and Ranelagh.

The General was nominated for, and won, several awards, including Best Director at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
All the performances are impressive, but Gleeson and Voight are especially memorable, lending an almost tragic air of inexorability to Cahill and Kenny's cat-and-mouse games. - Time Out [Geoff Andrew]

March 24th
All Things Bright and Beautiful (1994) 85 mins Dir: Barry Devlin with Tom Wilkinson, Kevin McNally, Gabrielle Reidy, Lorraine Pilkington, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Gabriel Byrne

still 01 Set in Ireland in the 1950s, this is the story of nine year old Barry O'Neill, altar boy and innocent, who has a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the ensuing snowball of religious euphoria that threatens to turn him into a saint.

still 01 Father McAteer is ecstatic; Barry is reluctant to disabuse him while Barry's father is sceptical. Eglish gets its grotto and is soon vying with the glories of Fatima and Lourdes as coach-loads of pilgrims flock to the village. But is Barry really a visionary or just trying too hard to please?

Shimmering with the memories of carefree summers long since gone, writer/director Barry Devlin's All Things Bright and Beautiful is an insightful, often amusing tale of innocent childhood.

April 15th
 :: Closing Gala
Premier screening, opening in theatres June 23rd
This Is My Father (1999)
119 mins Dir: Paul Quinn with Aidan Quinn, Moya Farrelly, James Caan, John Cusack, Colm Meaney, Jacob Tierney, and Stephen Rea

poster For director Paul Quinn, this is a fine effort, and represents the kind of motion picture that lovers of well-constructed romances long for. - [James Berardinelli]

This Is My Father chronicles the journey of a disillusioned Chicago schoolteacher who returns to Ireland with his nephew in search of the man who was his father. Widowed and childless, the lonely Kieran Johnson is no longer able to relate to his students. His fragile mental state is mirrored by his family circumstances: his mother has had a stroke and is unable (or unwilling) to communicate and his divorced sister, Betty, is burdened with their mother's care while trying to raise her troubled teenage son Jack.

still The film portrays a tragic love story set in late 1930s Ireland, focusing on the relationship between Fiona Flynn (Moya Farrelly), a beautiful, feisty seventeen-year-old from a middle-class family, and Kieran O'Dea (Aidan Quinn), a shy labourer in his early thirties, and the search decades later by their son, Kieran Johnson, (James Caan) to find his roots in late 1990s Ireland.

The film is told as an interweaving of the nineties setting, where Kieran is hearing the story of his parents, and the events of the 1930s. Kieran Johnson grew into adulthood unaware of his parents' story or of the tragic events that caused his mother to leave Ireland on her own while pregnant.

August 29th
 :: World Film Festival [WFA]
A Celebration of Irish Film Irish films was the feature of the World Film Festival in 1999 with Pat O'Connor and Stephen Rea on the Festival Jury.
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