Irish Film Festival Ottawa Returns for its 10th Edition!

Saint Patrick’s Day has passed, but that doesn’t mean that Ottawa is done celebrating Irish heritage. Returning to the capital from April 12th to the 14th, the Irish Film Festival Ottawa offers something for everybody, no matter where your ancestors hail from.

Festival organizer Patrick Murray says, “I noticed a lot of cultural and film festivals in Ottawa, but there wasn’t one for Ireland.” That was more than ten years ago. Since then, the Irish Film Festival Ottawa has become an intimate celebration of Irish culture and film that also includes director talks, Irish food, and music.

The 10th edition of the festival includes six Irish-made films, all of which will be making their Ottawa debut.

According to Murray, the tiny island country punches far above its weight for quality movies and acting. “The winner of the short film last year at the Oscars was Irish (An Irish Goodbye); this year, the Academy’s Best Actor, Cillian Murphy, was Irish, and last year, The Banshees of Inisherin won several Golden Globes and a nomination for Best Screenplay and Best Picture Oscars.”

Murray points out that there’s a large Irish diaspora in Ottawa, but the films have broad appeal because audiences are drawn to the stories told in Irish cinema.

The films selected for this year’s festival come from what Murray describes as “small but mighty production houses,” with many funded through Screen Ireland. He says, “So while the films are not necessarily Hollywood films with big splashy studio effects, they are still of a higher quality.”

They also contain some fierce talent. The film Joyride, a comedy selected for the festival, stars acclaimed English actress Olivia Coleman, whom many will know from her movie roles, including The Father (2020) and the popular English TV series Fleabag (2016-2019).

The star of the film Ann is less known, but her story has sadly played out across Ireland for generations. Set in 1984, Ann wakes up to the realization that she is expecting a baby. The film provides an introspective look at a dark time in Ireland’s social history. The festival opens with the drama Verdigris, about a middle-aged woman in an abusive marriage who strikes a deal to help a brash inner-city teen but is instead helped by the young woman.

The documentary Face Down examines the story of German businessman Thomas Niedermayer, who was abducted in 1973 by paramilitaries from his home and never seen again. It also takes a look at the wider Northern Ireland conflict. It is a not-to-be-missed screening for history buffs and anyone interested in the story of the English occupation of Northern Ireland.

The sometimes whacky Irish sense of humour is on full display in the comedy Apocalypse Clowns. Far from a slasher film, it is the story of a mysterious technological blackout that sends Ireland into turmoil and disorder and a troupe of washed-up clowns that embark on a journey across the country in pursuit of one final chance to realize their dreams.

The festival also features the thriller Lie of the Land, the tense story of a family trying to flee financial disaster only to have a change of heart that leads to a literal fight for survival.

Festival passes and single tickets are available on the Irish Film Festival Ottawa site or by clicking this link. All screenings will take place at 2 Daly Ave, Arts Court.

If you love Irish film and have some free time, the Irish Film Festival Ottawa is always looking for volunteers. Click here to sign up to become a volunteer.