The Emerald Isle comes to the big screen during the Capital Irish Film Festival

December 5, 2013

Sometimes it seems like Ireland just can't catch a break. But if there's one upside to a history rife with famine, violence and the recent debilitating recession, it's that adversity can pave the way to impressive art. Here's your chance to see some of it. The theme of this year's Capital Irish Film Festival, put on by local arts organization Solas Nua, is life in Ireland. So the movies, which screen tonight through Sunday, aren't just made by Irish filmmakers; they're about the day-to-day on the Emerald Isle.


The documentary "Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey" screens during the Capital Irish Film Festival. (Courtesy of CIFF)

While some of the movies were born of bleak times, they aren't all cinematic stormclouds. (And probably aren't nearly as depressing as some of the dramas in theaters right now.) Case in point: The opening night film, which screens tonight at E Street Cinema, is "Life's a Breeze." It follows a family battered by hard times that finds itself with a lot of unlikely allies. When they toss out a mattress filled with the family matriarch's impressive stash of secret riches, the family members must search every nearby dump for the thing. And as the news spreads, the whole country seems to join in the search (with miraculously charitable intentions).

Closing night festivities include a screening of "Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey," plus a visit from filmmaker Lelia Doolan. The documentary revisits the extraordinary life of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, who in 1969 became the youngest member of British Parliament. At just 21, she was the voice for Catholics from Northern Ireland and even on one occasion slapped another MP defending her people. But after an assassination attempt on her life, she retreated from public view.

Other highlights include a documentary about Muhammad Ali's visit to Dublin, a free kid-friendly program of shorts on Saturday morning and "Tapestry of Colours," which looks at the increasingly eclectic make-up of Northern Ireland's populace.

Most screenings take place at Goethe-Institut. Tickets are $15.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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