Five Irish films to premiere at Sundance Film Festival
Irish film-makers bring comedy, horror and documentary to Utah festival
Animals: Alia Shawkat (left) and Holliday Grainger in the comedy about women’s friendships
An impressive five Irish productions and co-productions are to have their world premieres at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. All received funding from Screen Ireland (formerly the Irish Film Board).
Lee Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground stars Seána Kerslake in a horror revolving around an ominous sinkhole deep within a forbidding forest. “It’s a privilege to bring The Hole in the Ground to the Sundance Film Festival for its World Premiere this January,” Cronin said. “A hell of a lot of extremely talented people worked tirelessly to make the movie a reality, so I’m delighted that its creators, funders and supporters can celebrate the perfect launch-pad in Utah.”
Sophie Hyde’s Animals, co-produced with the UK and Australia, stars Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat – so good in Arrested Development – in a comic celebration of female friendship. Sacha Polak’s Dirty God, developed with the Netherlands, the UK and Belgium, is a drama concerning a young mother recovering from an acid attack.
Two Irish documentaries have also made the grade. Garry Keane, and Andrew McConnell’s Gaza is a study of resilient citizens in that beleaguered corner of the Middle East. Keane commented: “It is a privilege to have spent time with them and to have had the chance to bring their stories of hope and survival in one of the most unique places on earth to the world’s most prestigious documentary festival.” Kim Longinotto’s Shooting the Mafia offers an unflinching portrait of the Sicilian Mafia.
Founded in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival is the world’s most prestigious festival dedicated to independent drama and documentary. Irish productions which have screened there in the past include John Crowley’s Brooklyn, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, John Carney’s Sing Street and Gerard Barrett’s Glassland.
“We are very proud to have five titles set to screen at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival,” James Hickey, chief executive of Screen Ireland, said. “The selection process is one of the most competitive in the world, so to have such a strong line-up for the 2019 edition of the festival is a fantastic achievement for our industry. Two out of the 12 documentaries in the international line-up, selected from all over the world, are Irish.”
This year’s event, which begins on January 23rd, has responded to growing concerns about the lack of diversity in cinema by announcing that women will direct 53 per cent of the films in competition. Forty of the 112 films in the official selection are by people of colour. Kim Yutani, director of programming, commented: “This year, it was completely organic. Different people are telling stories, and I think that is indicative of the time we are living in right now.”