It’s no secret that Irish filmmakers have been burning up the screen lately garnering great reviews and capturing awards across Europe and the U.S. So, it’s no surprise that this year’s festival had hundreds and hundreds of submissions from talented Irish filmmakers and that made the selection process for the 18th Chicago Irish Film Festival very, very difficult, but really exciting as well. In the end as the final films were chosen we found that this year’s program is filled with voices; some shouting, some whispering, some kind of nutty, and some telling us stories we have never heard before. 

One of Ireland’s most famous voices, Brendan Gleeson, lends his voice to the powerful story behind Risteard O’Domhnaill’s Atlantic about three small fishing communities, in Ireland, Newfoundland and Norway, as they fight to be heard over the roar of multinational oil and fishing companies and protect the natural resources that have sustain their communities for generations. 

Filmmaker Williams Rossa Cole takes us on a journey to discover his great-grandfather, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, in Rebel Rossa. From the starving voices of the famine and forced deportation to America to the roar of the crowd at his funeral in Dublin and Patrick Pearse’s memorable speech Rossa was a powerful voice in the search for Irish independence. Director David Kinsella takes us to modern day North Korea and 1970’s Northern Ireland to witness two worlds behind The Wall. Moving between the story of a young girl who defects to Northern Ireland and the life of a young boy living with sectarian violence in 1970’s Belfast, the film draws on the idea that both were living in countries driven by myths and fear and false voices. 

Voices come from every direction and beg for attention in this year’s lineup of indie Irish films. Heartbreaking and manic is the grieving voice that begs forgiveness and understanding in Ciaran Creagh’s powerful In View about an policewoman looking for redemption , while Len Collin gives full voice to often marginalized members of society in Sanctuary the story of two adults with intellectual disabilities that have fallen In love. Kit Ryan’s Property Os The State finds nothing but deaf ears in the true story that shocked Ireland in the 1990’s about a young man named Brendan O’Donnell who committed mass murder and Conor Armstrong Sanfey fills the LIFT with a jumble of voices stuck in an elevator with one that is hoping to ask out the girl of his dreams and one that belongs to a criminal; maybe. And first time feature filmmaker Kit Ryan would truly like people to stop talking and listen in the comedy Dead Along the Way which has a real sense of Murphy’s Law about it as two wedding videographers deal with a gangster, the church lady and the police all before the guests arrive. 

There could be some very heated discussions as festival audiences pick this year’s award for best short film. Wait until you hear the comedy in Last Call or the sound of flying feet in Reel Time, the plea for a proper burial in This is My Son or the lament that perhaps there wasn’t All the Time in the World. There’s voices on cell phones, voices under the bed, voices from heaven and a few voices we are not quite sure we heard correctly, but we’re going to go with. 

Don’t miss a single shout, whisper, plea or laugh at this year’s festival. 18th Chicago Irish Film Festival, March 2-5, 2017

Special Event, March 2 @ 7 PM $ 75.00 (includes reception)
Regular Screenings: $14 – $12 (Senior & Students)
All Tickets available through festival website: beginning February 2, 2017.