Irish Movie News
by James Bartlett
The red carpet has been rolled up, and the big winner at the Emmys was
Northern Ireland-based epic drama "Game of Thrones," which won 12 Emmys
including best drama series, best writing (David Benioff and Dan Weiss),
best direction (David Nutter) and best supporting actor for Peter Dinklage,
who plays Tyrion Lannister (his second Emmy win for the role).
"Game of Thrones" also won eight awards at Creative Arts Emmys held
a few days before, and have now broken a major record by surpassing The
West Wing and taking home more Emmys in a single year than any other
show in history.
Local Irish talent were among the winners, including the North of Ireland’s
Carla Stronge, who won hers for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series,
and Ronan Hill who won his 2nd Emmy for GOT in the Outstanding
Sound Mixing for a comedy or Drama (one hour) – fellow Irishman Mervyn
Moore from Coleraine was part of his team as well.
Also, Northern Irish director Kenneth Branagh has signed on to direct
a Disney adaptation of Irish author Eoin Colfer’s best-selling novel Artemis
Fowl. Described by Colfer himself as "‘Die Hard’ with fairies," the
story follows 12 year old criminal mastermind Artemis as he battles Captain
Holly Short and the fairies of the LEPrecon Unit. Irish playwright Conor
McPherson is currently in talks to write the script,
Staying in Ireland, and it seems that journeyman actor Colm Meaney is
in "advanced talks" to star as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
in new movie The Journey, which will be filmed in Northern Ireland
in the autumn and follows McGuinness’s developing friendship with the late
First Minister Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall).
The movie is being written by County Down-born novelist and screenwriter
Colin Bateman, and is based around a fictional journey Paisley and McGuinness
take together. Meaney in fact supported McGuinness in his bid to become
president of Ireland in 2011, and spoke at a rally in Dublin’s Mansion
House alongside the Sinn Féin MLA.
Staying in the North, and Belfast’s burgeoning movie business is set
for a major boost: there are plans for another film studio worth £10m
($15.4m) now in the planning. Contractors are bidding to build at least
one 40,000 sq ft development with a potential 20,000 sq ft extension, and
what will be known as the Belfast Harbour Studio should take around eight
months to build.
It could be in a competition though, as another film studio was given
the green light last year. Planning was given the go-ahead in August 2014
after a submission by Titanic Quarter Ltd, and this studio was set to be
across from their current eight acre Titanic Studios in the Queen's Quarter
of the city – though news of the development has seemed to be thin on the
ground since then.
There are already several studios in the area, many of which have been
used for movies and television, including of course fantasy epic "Game
of Thrones," which has continued to use the facilities along with much
of Northern Ireland’s beauty spots as a backdrop for filming.
Starting just as we went to press was the Toronto Film Festival, which
is seen as one of the big markers on the route to the Oscars – if you can
make a splash here, you might have a shot at walking the red carpet in
Hollywood early next year (or so they say, anyway).
A number of Irish movies are screening at the Canadian fest, including
Name is Emily, which is written and directed by Simon Fitzmaurice and
stars Evanna Lynch, Michael Smiley, and newcomer George Webster. The story
centers around Emily, who doesn’t get a card from her dad on her 16th
birthday. Befriending Arden, a fellow outsider at school, they decide to
go on a road trip across Ireland to track him down.
Also screening is Northern Irish movie A Patch of Fog, a psychological
thriller that’s the feature directorial debut from local film-maker Michael
Lennox, who, earlier this year picked up a BAFTA award and an Oscar nomination
for his short film Boogaloo & Graham.
Starring Conleth Hill (‘Game of Thrones") and Stephen Graham ("Boardwalk
Empire"), it follows novelist and TV personality (Hill), who finds his
life invaded by lonely security guard (Graham) when he’s caught shoplifting.
It’s written by local talent too – Michael McCartney and John Cairns –
and filmed entirely in Northern Ireland at the end of last year.
There’s also the sports documentary Being AP, which follows County
Antrim’s Tony McCoy in his last season as a champion horse racing jockey
and is directed by BAFTA-winner Anthony Wonke, and also Gabriel Byrne and
Isabelle Huppert in Louder than Bombs which tells the story of a
recently widowed man (Byrne) and his two sons (Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid).
Then theres’s the much-buzzed about Room, which is directed
by Irishman Lenny Abrahamson and is based on Emma Donoghue’s best-selling
novel. Getting a limited US release on October 16th, Room
is told through the eyes of a 5 year old child held captive in a room along
with his mother and stars Brie Larson, William H. Macy and Jacob Tremblay.
Going across the water to England, and the 59th BFI London Film Festival
takes place this month. There are several Irish movies screening there
too, including Room, Brooklyn, The Lobster, 11
Minutes and Northern Irish films The Survivalist, High Rise
and I Am Belfast.
11 Minutes stars Irish actor Richard Dormer, and shot
for a week in Dublin before moving to Poland; it follows the same 11 minutes
in the lives of several different characters, while The Survivalist,
which is the debut for writer/director Stephen Fingleton, stars
Martin McCann as a survivalist who lives alone deep in the forest – and
then two women appear looking for food.
Mark Cousin’s documentary I Am Belfast, which The Hollywood
Reporter called "a charmingly offbeat tribute to a big-hearted city,"
features a score by David Holmes and is a unique look at the city, portraying
"Belfast" as a free spirited woman touring the city.
Staying with the theme of cities, also screening is Ben Wheatley’s High
Rise, which filmed on location in Northern Ireland and is an adaptation
of JG Ballard’s classic thriller and stars Tom Hiddleston alongside Jeremy
Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss.
Also showcasing will be surreal, romantic drama (and winner of the Jury
Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival), The Lobster. It stars
Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz with a supporting cast including Léa
Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, John C.Reilly, Olivia Colman and Ashley Jensen, and
was shot at Parknasilla in Co. Kerry in Spring 2014, and was written by
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, and directed by Lanthimos too.
There’s also Brooklyn – another movie getting pre-Oscar buzz
– which screening at Sundance earlier this year, where it was acquired
for distribution by Fox Searchlight for $9m. It’s an Irish/British co-production,
filmed on location in Wexford, Dublin and Wicklow (as well as Montreal
and New York).
It stars Saoirse Ronan as a young Irish immigrant in 1950’s New York
whose relationship with Italian plumber Tony (Emory Cohen) is cut short
when she has to go home to Ireland – and there she meets local man Jim
Finally, three Irish short films will also screen in London: Bone
directed by Jenny Brady, The Red Herring directed by Leevi Lemmetty
and Red Moon Rising directed by Vivienne Dick. Also, Steve Jobs,
starring Irish/German actor Michael Fassbender, has been selected to close
the festival – he may well figure in the race for the golden statue too….