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 My 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 (Domhnall Gleeson).

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….


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