saturDAY 8TH DECEMBER
WAR OF THE BUTTONS (all ages show)
This classic Irish children’s film, adapted from the French novel La Guerre des boutons, shifts the rural Gallic setting of the original text to Co. Cork, Ireland, where the working-class boys of Ballydowse battle the middle-class boys of Carrickdowse. Shirt-buttons of each respective gang are kept as trophies whenever there is a victory.
Directed by John Roberts, the film reunited producer David Putnam and writer Colin Welland, who worked together on the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire. It features performances from Liam Cunningham (known to many international viewers as Ser Davos in Game of Thrones), Colm Meaney, and Pat Laffan. It is narrated by Marie, a local Bally girl recalling the summer in which the events of the film take place.
The young cast also includes many non-professional actors, whose naturalism was praised by critics like Barbara Schulgasser of the San Francisco Examiner upon the film’s release. It is no surprise that War of the Buttons has become a staple of high school curriculums when teaching about conflict, class and democracy. However, that should not detract from the film as a nostalgic, purely entertaining experience all on its own. As its tagline quips, "Most wars last years. This one has to be over by dinner."
Cast: Gregg Fitzgerald, Gerard Kearney, Darragh Naughton, Liam Cunningham, Colm Meaney
Screening starts 4pm
OLDER THAN IRELAND
Older Than Ireland is not only a charming look at the lives of over two dozen Irish centenarians, but a film from which much great insight can be gleaned. Filmed in an unobtrusive style, it is a paean to the world-renowned ‘gift of the gab’, the simple act of storytelling, for which the Irish are known.
As the title suggest, most of its participants were born prior to Irish independence, making them older than the state of Ireland itself. There is Bessie Nolan, from Drimnagh, Dublin, who, aged five, witnessed the 1916 Easter Rising. We also hear from Jack Powell, of Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, visibly shaken by the brutality of the revolutionary period in Irish history, noting that "we did things to each other during the civil war which… well, I won’t say they were any worse than what the Black and Tans [British forces] did, but they were certainly no better."
Given the number of Irish-born residents of Canada, it is of no surprise that North America was the most popular destination for Irish emigrants, at least until the Wall Street crash of 1929. Kathleen Snavely, the oldest living Irish person at the time the film was made, is interviewed from her home in Syracuse, New York. Her soft mid-Atlantic brogue is a reminder of all those people born in Ireland who made their homes in other countries.
Director Alex Fegan
A DATE FOR MAD MARY
One of the most acclaimed Irish films of recent years, A Date for Mad Mary is the story of a Mary McArdle, a young woman who, released from prison after a six-month stint for assault, must find a plus-one for the wedding of a once-close friend, Charlene. It is this quest that drives the film, throwing up curveballs which both Mary and the audience are forced to confront. The debut feature film from director Darren Thornton, who had previously worked on the hit RTÉ series Love is the Drug, A Date for Mad Mary has its roots on the stage, but transcends them, also.
Based on the monologue, 10 Dates with Mad Mary by Yasmine Akram, the film offers insights into the way in which woman compete with one another in often destructive fashion. Though given the role of maid-of-honour at Charlene’s wedding, Mary is nonetheless looked down upon by mutual friends of the bride-to-be. Bridesmaid Leona scoffs at the notion that Mary would even find a date for the wedding, to which Mary replies, "I think I can get a fella quicker than you." There are also barbed comments about Leona’s weight, in typically-colourful Irish vernacular, and other zingers ("A sniper wouldn’t take you out!").
Cast: Seána Kerslake, Carolyn Bracken, Denise McCormack
Director Darren Thornton
Screening Starts 8pm
Come early to enjoy live music from Paul Caldwell in the atrium at 7pm