Shebeen Flick, Berlin’s Irish film festival, returns with a bumper line-up.
What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than by spending the long weekend binging on the finest cinema the Emerald Isle has to offer? Returning for its sixth edition and doubling last year’s programme size to a total of 25 features and shorts, Shebeen Flick is committed to shining a light on acclaimed Irish work that has yet to secure German distribution.
Among this year’s highlights are films that depict a forward-looking country keen to shake off its conservative, religious past.
Darren Thornton’s exuberant debut A Date for Mad Mary tells the story of the eponymous Mary (Seána Kerslake), a feisty, foul-mouthed young woman released from prison just in time to serve as maid of honour at the wedding of her best friend Charlene (Charleigh Bailey). She frantically sets about auditioning local lads who might be up to the task of attending as her plus-one, but when she hits it off with a female wedding videographer, her search takes an unexpected turn. While the film’s coming-out and coming-of-age elements are well-worn, the savagely funny script and Kerslake’s commanding central performance ensure a grand old time.
On the non-fiction side of things, Conor Horgan’s The Queen of Ireland is a conventional but compelling documentary about drag queen and activist Panti Bliss aka Rory O’Neill. The film weaves the charismatic performer’s personal story into a broader portrait of the LGBTQ rights movement in Ireland building up to the country’s historic marriage equality referendum in 2015. Gradually, the larger-than-life Panti persona falls by the wayside as O’Neill talks frankly and movingly about his family life, his HIV diagnosis and his experiences of homophobic violence.
If you’re looking for more formally challenging fare, opener History’s Future is an enigmatic, playfully confounding essay film starring Mark O’Halloran (Adam & Paul) as a man with no memory who embarks on a journey of self-discovery across Europe.
Meanwhile, the shorts offering includes stone-cold gem “Stutterer”, Benjamin Cleary’s Oscar-winning tearjerker about a man struggling with a speech impediment.
Shebeen Flick Irish Film Festival, March 16-19 | Moviemento Kino, Kreuzberg