At a press conference on Wednesday morning at the Embassy of Ireland in Luxembourg, the programme for the 6th annual British & Irish Film Fesival was announced, with the Opening Screening on 21 September featuring Nicole Kidman in Strangerland and the Closing Screening featuring John Hannah in Shooting for Socrates.
With the support of the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland and the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland, Festival Organiser Geoff Thompson has put together a programme that will suit all tastes and spans many genres from dramas and psychological thrillers to comedies and documentaries. With a number of producers, directors and actors to attend in person, and some via Skype, the festival aims to maintain the momentum generated over the past couple of years which have witnessed strong growth.
This year, two Luxembourg co-productions will be featured, namely Standby, a drama by Juliette Films, and Two by Two (Ooops Noah is Gone) - in English - an animated film by Fabrique d'Images.
This year many feature films will be preceded by short films, an initiative that was welcomed by many festival-goers last year. This year, the Cinémathèque will be used as a venue for the first time, in addition to Utopolis-Kirchberg and Ciné-Utopia.
45 Years (EN), Drama: An engaging, delicate and thoughtful drama featuring a couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in 5 days’ time. The arrival of a letter threatens to destroy the happy union. Based on a short story. At this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, the film won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film, with Charlotte Rampling sharing the Best Performance Award.
A Doctor’s Sword (IR), Documentary: Dr. Aidan MacCarthy stands as one of the most incredible survivors of WorldWar II. He survived Dunkirk and the fall of Singapore; he spent four years as a POW in Japan and was just a few hundred metres from an atomic bomb falling. From the Ashes of Nagasaki he was given an ancestral sword by a Japanese officer but its provenance was shrouded in mystery. Going to Japan, Aidan’s daughter Niki discovers much more about her father and his remarkable story and the war from both the Allied and Japanese sides. Recreated through animation this is a story of survival, forgiveness and how humanity can scale the highest heights.
Absolutely Anything (EN / US), Comedy Sci-fi: A group of eccentric aliens, who travel from planet to planet to see what kind of species inhabit them, come to Earth. If the inhabitants are, according to their standards, decent, then they are welcomed as friends; if not, the planet is destroyed. To find out they choose one inhabitant and give that person the power to do whatever he/she wants. On Earth, they choose Neil Clarke, a special needs teacher. He is constantly being berated by the headmaster and is attracted to his neighbour, Catherine, but doesn't have the guts to approach her. But now he can do anything he wants, but has to be careful...
An Klondike (IR), Drama / Western: Set against the backdrop of the Alaskan Gold Rush of the 1890s, An Klondike is an exciting new drama that tells the story of the Connolly brothers from Rosmuc, Galway. While in Montana, they encounter someone the family knows who has struck it rich in the Yukon. They follow their dream and make their way towards the Klondike river where they encounter a seemingly lawless town complete with saloon. While the brothers begin making money, it triggers tension and the brothers' characters start to diverge, helped by an unscrupulous local. A Co Galway mine was transformed into the set for the shoot.
Andrew Carnegie; Rags to Riches, Power to Peace (SC), Documentary: A frank account of the life of Scotland's Andrew Carnegie, a poor Scottish immigrant who made his fortune in the steel industry in the US, becoming the richest man in the world in the process, before giving it all away on philanthropic activities and peace initiatives. The film also examines how Carnegie's steel empire changed America and his forgotten attempt to bring about peace in the run up to the First World War.
Black Mountain Poets (WA), Comedy Drama: A hilarious comedy featuring two young women down on their luck who grasp an opportunity presented to them, meaning that they impersonate two respected freestyle poets on a poetry retreat in the Welsh mountains. While there the two anti-heroines both fall for the smouldering charms of Richard (Tom Cullen from 'Downton Abbey') and dig deeper holes for themselves. However, they do learn important life lessons and one of them discovers her inner muse.
Generate the State (IR), Documentary: The building of the Shannon Scheme (1925-29) around the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power plant was based on 100% renewable energy and revolutionised electricity production and supply in Ireland. Created in the shadow of the Civil War and chronic shortages of food and money, this massive undertaking generated more than electricity. There was controversy, strikes and art. Using contemporary cinema, the impressive Siemens photographic collection and Seán Keating’s series of paintings of the work in progress, the director Johnny Gogan creates a rich picture of how the State dared to dream of a better future for its people in a time of crisis.
Man Up (EN / FR), Romantic Comedy: A 34 year old single woman, Nancy, frustrated by the endless blind dates set up by her friends, travels across London to toast another 10 years of her parent's successful happy magical marriage. She runs into a 40 year old divorcee, Jack, who mistakes her for his 24 year old blind date. Nancy, deciding to go along with it, happens to hop on the most chaotic yet hilarious journey of her life which neither of them will ever forget. A romantic comedy about taking chances, finding about being yourself, making decisions and rolling with the consequences.
Pursuit (IR), Comedy Thiller: Once upon a time, there was a princess who sang in the forest until she could sing no more. Her father was a king who was feared but never loved. And it made him angry. For it was Fionn, his appointed chief, who won the hearts of the people. It was Fionn who protected them from their enemies. It was he who roamed the forests, the mountains and the seas. And wherever Fionn went, he was never without his trusted warrior, Diarmuid…”. Paul Mercier’s modern take on the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne makes for a contemporary myth about the pursuit of power, class, love and the chance to start again. The film features an exciting ensemble of Irish actors.
Scottish Mussel (SC), Comedy Drama: A hilarious Scottish comedy which sees a chancer from Glasgow try his hand at poaching rare mussels from highland rivers until he falls for an environmentalist who is doing everything she can to stop poachers from destroying the stocks. A comedy with an Eco message about protecting the environment.
Set Fire to the Stars (WA) in B/W, Drama: Set in 1950s New York, an aspiring poet invites his hero, the highly acclaimed and infamous Dylan Thomas, across the Atlantic for a series of poetry readings. Ignoring rumours of Thomas' frivolities back home, he has his hands full when the poet arrives. Desperate to get his watchful university chaplains off his back, Brinnan takes Thomas to his family retreat in the woods of Connecticut. But even in the middle of nowhere, the resourceful and cantankerous Thomas finds an audience for his art, passion, love and aggression... A truly powerful performance from Celyn Jones who co-wrote the screenplay and who starred in the 2014 BIFS film Castles in the Sky.
Shooting for Socrates (NI), Drama: Set around the Northern Ireland football team's qualification and play at Mexico World Cup in 1986, set with the Troubles as a backdrop. 9 year old Tommy, nonchalantly dribbles a ball through the troubled streets of Belfast duirng rioting. Whilst politicians argue over the peace process, there's only one thing on young Tommy's football-mad mind - the forthcoming World Cup, where tiny Northern Ireland will take on the mighty Brazil in the biggest game of their lives. On the football field, eccentric Northern Ireland coach Billy Bingham (they call him Mr FIFA - "a fee for this and a fee for that") must plug together a bunch of misfits and third division players.
Standby (IR / LU), Comedy Drama: Alice is stuck in Dublin airport on standby for a flight home to New York. She meets Alan, down on his luck but who works at the airport. They had a summer romance eight years previously with Alan promising to return to the US one day. He never did, and they haven't spoken since. Seizing his chance, Alan convinces a reluctant Alice to stay one more night in Dublin. Over the course of an unforgettable evening, they may just realise that they are more compatible than ever. But time is running out on this brief encounter. When does an unexpected second chance, become the one you've always been looking for?
Strangerland (IR / AU), Thriller: Soon after the Parkers move to the remote desert town of Nathgari in Australia, the teenage children of Catherine and Matthew mysteriously disappear. With the town eerily smothered in red dust and darkness, the townsfolk join the search led by a local policeman. The children's chances of survival plummet with each passing day and both parents find themselves pushed to the brink. Were they taken? Did they leave of their own volition? These are some of the questions the townsfolk and the audience start to ask themselves. You will scarcely recognise Nicole Kidman...
The Face of an Angel (EN / IT / ES) in EN & IT, Drama: The film tells the story of a journalist and a filmmaker as they lose themselves in a notorious murder case they are covering. Based on true events, a riveting account of the controversial case of an American student accused of murder in Italy. The journalist attempts an investigation into the truth behind the murder...
The Lobster (IR / EN / FR / NL / GR), Comedy Sci-fi: A surreal comedic love story set in a dystopian near future where single people are arrested and transferred to a creepy hotel. There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days; if they fail, they are transformed into an animal and released into the woods. Colin Farrell plays a recently divorced architect risks being transformed into a lobster. As his days start running out, he decides to feign common interest with a heartless woman (Rachel Weisz) in order to escape his fate. But can he pull it off? The film won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Two by Two (Oops! Noah is Gone…) (IR / LU / DE / BE / US), Animated Adventure: It's the end of the world. A flood is coming. Luckily for Dave and his son Finny, a couple of clumsy Nestrians, an Ark has been built to save all animals. But as it turns out, Nestrians aren't allowed. Sneaking on board with the involuntary help of Hazel and her daughter Leah, two Grymps, they think they're safe. Until the curious kids fall off the Ark. Now Finny and Leah struggle to survive the flood and hungry predators and attempt to reach the top of a mountain, while Dave and Hazel must put aside their differences, turn the Ark around and save their kids. It's definitely not going to be smooth sailing.
You're Ugly Too (IR), Comedy Drama: Will is released from prison on compassionate leave to care for his niece Stacey after the death of her mother. As they both head into the sleepy Irish midlands and attempt to be a family, they suffer a series of setbacks; Stacey is refused admission to the local school because of her recently developed narcolepsy; Will repeatedly comes close to breaking his prison-ordered curfew; and his attempts at being a father figure to her prove disastrous… As their future hangs in the balance, they must search for a new way forward together. The two leads emit great chemistry! Similarities with the 2011 German film Kokowääh.
Tickets for all films (€8.80 individual; €25 for 5 films) are on sale online at www.bifilmseason.lu, along with screening times.