Launch of IrishFilmFesta

Capacity crowds throughout opening day of IrishFilmFesta

The seventh edition of the IrishFilmFesta began on the morning of Thursday 27 March at Rome's Casa del Cinema with a conference entitled Meet Ireland on Screen, a get together between members of the Italian and Irish film industries.

Later that afternoon a crowd filled the Sala Deluxe for the screening of two parts of the award-winning documentary series Atlantean which has been digitally restored on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.

The documentary dismisses the popular Celtic origins of Ireland as myth, proposing instead that the Irish descend from an "Atlantean" culture that includes the western seaboard of Europe and North Africa. Introduced by its director Bob Quinn with Dr Barry Monahan of University College Cork (UCC), the documentary examined the cultural, historic and religious links between the western coast of Ireland and the Arabic cultures of the Mediterranean and north Africa.

Quinn told the audience that he was not a scientist, theologian or archaeologist, but that his series was a work of imagination and speculation based on his discovery of numerous connections that were either unknown or were previously "unfashionable" to mention. The series was warmly received by the audience whose Irish members left the cinema hall with something of an identity crisis.

The festival was opened officially that evening by the Irish ambassador to Italy, Bobby McDonagh, who said that although Ireland considers itself a "literary and musical super power", the nation's cinema was going from strength to strength too. Ambassador McDonagh underlined the enduring appeal of cinema, despite the innovations of social media, and also praised the vision and dedication of the festival's artistic director Susanna Pellis who founded the IrishFilmFesta seven years ago.

The day finished with the festival's opening feature film, John Butler's comedy The Stag, which generated hilarity among the capacity crowd. The Stag follows a bachelor party camping weekend that takes some unexpected detours thanks to the groom's future brother-in-law — a dominating, excessively-macho character known as "The Machine." The movie was preceded by the charming short film Irish Folk Furniture, which looked at the history and restoration of "folk furniture", such as flour bins and dressers, and the role they played in rural Irish homes.

The festival continues at 15.30 on Friday 28 March with Acting for Camera, a film acting workshop by Dublin director Graham Cantwell. The masterclass is followed by the screening of the romantic comedy The Callback Queen, directed by Cantwell and starring actress Amy-Joyce Hastings, both of whom will be in attendance. Meanwhile at 16.30 the festival screens its 15 short films in competition, all shown with English subtitles, and repeated later at 21.30.

That night at 21.00, audiences can look forward to Black Ice, a feature film directed by Johnny Gogan and starring Killian Scott.

The four-day festival runs until Sunday 30 March at its base at the Casa del Cinema, in the corner of Villa Borghese.

For full details see website.

Andy Devane

General Info

Address Casa del Cinema, Largo Marcello Mastroianni 1 (Villa Borghese), tel. 06423601.

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Launch of IrishFilmFesta

Casa del Cinema, Largo Marcello Mastroianni 1 (Villa Borghese), tel. 06423601.