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Irish Film Festival Ottawa brings the best of Irish film to screens large and small

By Jasmine van Schouwen on April 7, 2022





Since 2014, Pat Murray, Founder and Executive Director of Irish Film Festival Ottawa (IFFO), has shared his love of Irish cinema with Ottawans through an annual showcase of recent films of all genres from Irish filmmakers. The three-day event, which features in-person and virtual screenings, also incorporates Irish music, dance, and other arts.

“I realized that there’s a large demographic of Irish Canadians here in Ottawa, but also, [Ireland] is a country that punches way above its weight as far as film is concerned,” says Murray. With the help of the Irish embassy and a cross-section of the Ottawa Irish community, he launched the annual event to enable viewers to discover the rich fabric of Irish film.

“I think the thing I like the most about Irish cinema is that it surprises you, because it’s so rich and complex and nuanced, considering that it comes from an island of about five million people,” says Murray. “On top of that, its cinema has only truly been independent for about 30 years now. Before that, most films based in Ireland were from the perspective of American or British filmmakers. In the last 30 years, Irish filmmakers have really taken ownership of their own stories.”

Hazel Doupe stars in You Are Not My Mother, playing at the Irish Film Festival Ottawa. Photo provided.

By bringing a wide range of genres of Irish film to the big screen of the Arts Court Theatre and to home cinemas everywhere, Murray hopes the IFFO will drown out clichés of leprechauns and fairies.

“People will find that the Irish have very complex, very rich lives that come up on screen and very interesting stories as well,” says Murray. “They’ll find that Irish cinema is different but also very much like our cinema here in Canada and the United States. We all want the same thing: Tell us a good story, and make it visually entertaining and exciting.”

Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, director of Lost Children of the Carricks, playing at the Irish Film Festival Ottawa. Photo provided.

Above all, Murray is excited to welcome viewers to three in-person screenings on Saturday, April 9, which will include discussions with Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin (director, Lost Children of the Carricks), Matthew Bissonnette (director, Death of a Ladies’ Man), Corey Marr (producer, Death of a Ladies’ Man) and Hazel Doupe (actress, You Are Not My Mother).

Matthew Bissonette directed the film Death of a Ladies’ Man, playing at the Irish Film Festival Ottawa. Photo provided.

“I really want to encourage people to come out for that,” says Murray. “We’re very excited to be having all of them with us!” But Murray emphasizes that pre-recorded Q&As will also be available to viewers joining in the festivities through online screenings.

The Irish Film Festival Ottawa runs from April 8–14, 2022. The full festival schedule is available here. Tickets for in-person screenings are $12 per film or $50 for five films. Tickets may be purchased in person on the day of the film, but please note that there may be a limited number of same-day tickets available Tickets for online screenings are $5 per film or $35 for a festival bundle. Access to the films may be purchased at any time between April 8 and April 14.