The 3rd annual Irish Film Festival is headed back to Sydney, and for the first time Melbourne, this March and April. With five feature films and three documentaries, the 2017 program is bursting with character and craic from the Emerald Isle.

From a deep dive into the mind of one of Ireland’s most famous activists, Bobby Sands to a small town mattress shop that turns to whacky advertising when the GFC hits; and Australia’s own Rachel Griffiths as a grieving mother who finds solace in the company of a young homeless kid; the Irish Film Festival program is jam-packed with cutting edge storytelling.

Penrith Gaels Club, Kingswood is the location for the festival’s launch into Western Sydney on Wednesday 29 March. The Festival returns to its traditional Sydney home at the Chauvel in Paddington from Thursday 30 March – Sunday 02 April (don’t forget the legendary Opening Night Party on Thursday 30th), while the Kino Cinema in Collins Street is the place to see the festival for the first time in Melbourne starting on Thursday 6 – Saturday 8 April.

Irish Film Festival Dr Enda Murray said ‘The Irish film industry is going gang-busters at the moment and we want to show Australian audiences a slice of that action. We have eight films all released in Ireland in the last 12 months. It’s a window into contemporary Ireland’.

Opening the Festival in each location is A Date for Mad Mary, a tough and tender story about friendship, first love and staying sane in small town Ireland. The story follows ‘Mad’ Mary McArdle on a quest to find a date for her best friend’s wedding, but her attempts to find a partner are a disaster, until she meets Jess (Tara Lee – The Fall) and everything changes.

Renowned Australian actress Rachel Griffiths stars in Mammal, based around the unorthodox relationship between ‘Margaret’ who is coming to terms with the devastating loss of her son and Joe, a homeless youth. Seeking solace in the most unusual of places Margaret also has to contend with the escalation of her ex-husband’s grieving rage and Joe’s involvement with a violent gang. Mammal was an official selection at Sundance in 2016 and features the incredible talents of Barry Keoghan (Love / Hate) and Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones).

Sanctuary is the story of Larry and Sophie, two people with disabilities who fall in love but face challenges from society while trying to consummate their relationship. Care worker Tom sympathises with their plight and accepts a bribe from the pair to book them a hotel room, while the rest of the group under Tom’s supervision escape on a joyful rampage through Galway. This joyous film was a clear audience favourite at the Galway Film Festival.

Staying on the theme of relationships, Twice Shy follows the beautifully realised love story of a young couple making their way from Ireland to England due to an unplanned pregnancy. Twice Shy explores some very topical issues in a non-judgmental manner and is a touching look at a young couple reflecting on themselves, their relationship and their choices. The two young actors are backed by a strong Irish cast including Ardal O’Hanlon (Father Ted) and Pat Shortt (D’Unbelievables).

Offering a new angle on a well-known political drama Bobby Sands: 66 Days utilises reconstructions, archival material and key interviews to weave together a riveting exposition of the 1981 H-Blocks Prison hunger strike in Ireland. Cinefiles will remember the story of Bobby Sands from Michael Fassbender’s Oscar nominated role in Hunger, however this documentary powerfully and personally expands on the story using excerpts from Sands’ own evocative prison diary.

From troubles on the land to trouble at sea, the documentary Atlantic narrated by Emmy Award winning actor Brendan Gleeson, looks at the powerful interests carving up Ireland’s ocean resources. Following the fortunes of three small fishing communities, we see how big business, ecological changes and economic pressure are pushing species, communities and families to the point of no return.

Adding a touch of comedy to the 2017 program is the documentary Mattress Men, which follows the friendship between two men who are struggling to save Mick’s business in inner city Dublin. As business starts to grow, the relationship between the two men begins to implode. This is a firsthand look at the personal woes that the Global Financial Crisis has wreaked on working peoples’ lives.

The Young Offenders is based on the true story of the bales of cocaine which were washed up on the beach in West Cork in 2007 but that’s where reality ends. This comedy sees two intrepid young Cork boys heading off in search of their fortune with a half-baked plan that gets them into some sticky situations with hilarious repercussions.

The Irish Film Festival is a candid glimpse into Irish culture for Australians audiences young and old. Whether you have family ties, a keen interest in history and culture or just an affinity for the Emerald Isle, the Irish Film Festival is Celtic cinema at its best.


SYDNEY – Wednesday 29th March – Sunday 02nd April, 2017
MELBOURNE – Thursday 06th – Saturday 08th April, 2017

SYDNEY – Penrith Gaels, Glebe Pl & Phillip St, Kingswood NSW 2747 (Wednesday 29th March Only)
SYDNEY – Chauvel Cinema, 249 Oxford Street, Paddington, Sydney, NSW, 2000 (Thursday 30th March – Sunday April 02nd)
MELBOURNE – Kino Cinemas, 45 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 (Thursday 6th March – Saturday 02nd April)


Matt Fraser | [email protected] | P: 02 8065 7363 | M: 0401 326 007
Aidan Mc Laughlin | [email protected] | P: 02 8065 7363 | M: 0420 501 840