Six Irish films to feature at Sundance Film Festival

Mammal, Land of the Enlightened, The Lobster, Viva, Love & Friendship and Sing Street feature

Six Irish films are to play at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah next month.

It had already been announced that Rebecca Daly's Mammal, a socio-realist drama starring Rachel Griffiths, was to screen at the festival. Pieter-Jan De Pue's The Land of the Enlightened, a study of children coping with the aftermath of the Afghanistan conflict, co-produced by Fastnet Films, had also been listed in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

On Tuesday morning, the festival organisers confirmed that another four Irish releases had been added to the slate.

Paddy Breathnach's Viva, an Irish-Cuban coproduction, follows a young gay man making his way in Havana. Scripted by Mark O'Halloran, Viva is the Irish entry for the best foreign language feature Oscar and has been identified by Variety magazine as a likely nominee in that race.


Yorgos Lanthimos's The Lobster, an absurdist romance starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, arrives in Park City seven months after taking the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Whit Stillman's Love & Friendship sees the much-admired director of Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco tackling Jane Austen's early, epistolary novel Lady Susa. Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Fry and Chloe Sevigny appear in the film, which was co-produced by Dublin-based Blinder Films. Shooting took place earlier this year in various Irish locations.

Much excitement will surround the premiere of John Carney's Sing Street. Carney, the director of Once and sometime bass player with The Frames, returns to the Dublin of his youth for a musical soaked in autobiography. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Aidan Gillen star.

"It's a wish-fulfilment story where I get revenge on all my teachers," Carney told The Irish Times. "I get the girl when I didn't actually go up and talk to the girl at all. It's authentically about how music saved my life."

Once first attracted attention at Sundance – an event long associated with Robert Redford – in 2007. Carney has, therefore, some understanding of the festival's importance.

“All our careers were enhanced by Sundance,” he says. “It was overshadowed by winning the Oscar for best song. But it was at Sundance that it all began. I couldn’t overestimate the significance of that festival.”

Carney said that, contrary to some news reports, the film does not feature original music by Bono and the Edge. The U2 band members were involved in early discussions, but scheduling difficulties made further collaboration impractical. “They were very helpful at an early stage though,” he confirms.

In recent years, the Sundance Film Festival has been more influential than ever. Recent nominees for best picture at the Oscars such as Whiplash, Boyhood and Beasts of the Southern Wild premiered at the event. The breakout film earlier this year was John Crowley's Brooklyn, which is expected to feature strongly in Thursday's Golden Globe nominations and score well when the Oscar shortlists are announced in mid-January.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist