I just scrapped a blog post, a boring rant about having had my fill of St. Patrick’s Day activities a few weeks ago (nothing to do with drinking, just attending several events in a row). Instead, here’s a quick post about one of my favourite events of the year, Ciné Gael Montréal’s screening of Irish short films, happening tonight (April 5).
Ciné Gael Montréal is probably one of the most confusing and enjoyable film festivals around Montreal. It starts in January and screens Irish films a few times a month until the big closing film in May. Because I don’t buy a pass, I’m not usually aware of all the screenings and I keep having to check their website to see when a film is showing. For the past few years instead of attending all the films we make a point of catching the evening of short films. It’s easy to keep track of that one date.
Ireland and Northern Ireland may not be big places, but wow, they are rich in talent. Irish films are eclectic, covering any subject you can imagine. In the past, many of the short films screened have often been very short, eight minutes or less. But some are 30 minutes long. The folks responsible for choosing them, Heather Mcdougall and Kester Dyer, pick films that are often hilarious. For instance, Shimmy Marcus’s Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion, shown at Ciné Gael in 2014, is about a little Jewish girl who wants to join other girls in having a Catholic First Communion.
They’ve chosen both funny animated films and serious documentaries.
Some films are in the Irish language and have English subtitles. Nearly all the films, animated or not, have surprising endings or showcase storytelling or reflect aspects of Irish society you don’t expect to see. I remember one film last year was a little girl who tries to save “Santa” (really a homeless man who looks like Santa). Another film was about women who lost their breasts to breast cancer reclaiming their beauty through the artistry of tattoos. Another was about a man with Aspergers who is rejected by women but his brother tries to help him by taking him to Amsterdam to see an escort.
According to the schedule, tonight’s films will be longer than some we’ve seen in the past at Ciné Gael. They’re all 10 minutes or longer and definitely a quirky mix. I won’t list them all but to give you an idea, there’s a film about a child building a Back to the Futuresque DeLorean replica before his family gets evicted, a story about a last disco(?), a film about the cruel treatment the children of unwed girls and women experienced at one of Ireland’s “mother and baby homes,” an animated film about an elderly woman drifting through her memories.
If you check them out, be sure to bring a pen along so you can mark your ballot and vote for your favourite films. The filmmakers of the winning film, the film receiving the most votes as the audience favourite, get €100 (one hundred Euros).
Note: I’m back home and have corrected a few minor errors in my original post. Tonight the organizers pointed out that some filmmakers tweeted their excitement about having their Canadian premieres at Ciné Gael. The festival is in its 27th year and the organizers admitted they weren’t too familiar with Twitter. Anyway…