The inaugural 2015 Irish Screen America Film Festival (ISA) took place recently in Los Angeles and New York, attracting more 3,000 attendees. Launched in 2015, ISA is an organization created to seek out and promote influential and emerging Irish talent to the U.S. and showcase the very best of contemporary Irish film, TV, animation, video games and interactive media.
The festival’s Executive Director and Curator, Kilmacanogue native and Emmy-winning producer/director Niall McKay and Deputy Directors Clodagh Bowyer and Marissa Aroy welcomed guests on both coasts to the festivals which came to a close in New York on Monday, October 5.
Niall McKay said, “This year, we were able to showcase over 13 films to over three thousand people in both New York and Los Angeles and introduce our participating filmmakers to important industry professionals. Of course, none of this could happen if they weren’t making beautiful films that we are able to showcase. It’s really a great time for Irish filmmaking. It was also really gratifying to see that many of the projects from our local Irish program in New York, such as “You Are Beautiful,” “Creativity Requires Courage,” and “On the Lig,” sprung out of the relationships created at the prior editions of the festivals.”
Irish writer/directors Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy were on hand in both Los Angeles and New York to introduce guests to their confident, timely, Opening Night thriller TRADERS. Also attending ISA’s festivities, either presenting their films or participating in programs were breakthrough LA-based Irish directors Fergal Reilly (ANGRY BIRDS), Ruairi Robinson (LAST DAY ON MARS), Gary Shore (DRACULA UNTOLD); actors Peter O’Meara (TRADERS, RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION), Kevin J. Ryan (PADDY’S IN THE BOOT, COPPERS), Dónall Ó Héalaí (TRADERS, SÍNTE), Glenn Keogh (LUCKY ME BOLLIX, TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION), Wallis Murphy Munn (SANDBOY); and short film directors Vittoria Colonna (SANDBOY), Marcus Fox (LUCKY ME BOLLIX), Kevin Shulman (PADDY’S IN THE BOOT) Andrew Baird (BREAKING THROUGH) Liam Hallihan (MARTIN’S LIFE); and Masterclass Instructors director Cathy Brady (MORNING, WASTED), and Oscar®-nominated screenwriter and director Naomi Sheridan, amongst others.
Other festival guests included Barbara Jones – Consul General of Ireland in New York and Kevin Byrne – Irish Vice Consul of Ireland in San Francisco; producers Jonathan Loughran and Gabrielle Kelly; former Miss Ireland and RTÉ presenter, actress Olivia Tracey; Bernadette O’Neill; Rachel Rath; Kevin Marron; Johnnie A O’Callaghan; Jasmine Jaisinghani (AFI, IFFLA); Catherine Siggins; Siobhan Flynn; Tara Halloran (SVP British Film Commission); Lisa McLaughlin-Strassman; Pascal Ladreyt (ELMA); Joan Burney Keatings (Cinemagic); poet Maureen Grady and Daniel Nyiri.
ISA presented an award at the Los Angeles Opening Night Reception to “outstanding new filmmakers & influential and emerging Irish talent”. Recipients of the 2015 ISA Rising Talent Award were Rachael Moriarty, Peter Murphy, Barry Keoghan, Liam Hallihan, Cathy Brady, Laura McGee, Naomi Sheridan and Dónall Ó Héalaí. The awards were presented to the filmmakers by Teresa McGrane, Deputy Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) who said “‘What we have witnessed this weekend is the extraordinary breadth of Irish talent both living and working in the US and Ireland – Irish Screen America is an incredible platform to share stories and at the same time have a lot of fun. Thank you to Niall and the ISA team – we know the hard work they put in and we wish ISA every success in building on an amazing launch.”
Highlights of the combined program included Daisy Asquith’s documentary “After the Dance,” the Sundance Award-winning, IFTA-nominated “Glassland,” Frank Berry’s “I Used to Live Here,” the shorts program including “Wasted” by Cathy Brady, Liam Halihan’s super funny animation “Martin’s Life” and the premiere screening of Niall McKay and Marissa Aroy’s “On the Lig”.
The programs included a highly successful, sold out panel discussion entitled “Stories From the Field” with directors Ruairi Robinson (“Last Day on Mars”), Fergal Reilly (“Angry Birds”) and Gary Shore (“Dracula Untold”) in Los Angeles and packed out master classes from Academy Award® nominated screenwriter, Naomi Sheridan in Los Angeles and IFTA-award-winning director Cathy Brady in New York.
ISA’s film festival roadshow will continue to take place annually in the fall in Los Angeles and New York featuring contemporary and critically-acclaimed Irish feature films and documentaries, New Irish Talent Showcases (shorts, web shows, animation and games), a selection of filmmaker Q&A’s, master classes, industry panel discussions and filmmaker receptions.
Image 1: Los Angeles – Olivia Tracey (fmr Miss Ireland), Niall McKay (ISA), Naomi Sheridan (screenwriter), Teresa McGrane (Irish Film Board)
Image 2: Los Angeles Irish Directors Panel – L-R Fergal Reilly (Director Angry Birds), Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), Niall McKay (IFA), Ruairi Robinson (Last Day on Mars)
Image 3: New York Reception for opening of ISA New York Film Festival – Niall McKay (ISA), Barbara Jones, Consul General of Ireland in New York (1)