Richard Harris Film Festival Launches its 2018 programme in New York

The sixth Richard Harris International Film Festival is set to take place from the 25th to 29th October in Limerick, with the organisers announcing details of the event on a recent trip to NY.

The festival was launched in 2013, with the specific aims to encourage the Irish filmmaking community to showcase their work and to honour Ireland’s first Hollywood leading man Richard Harris. The actor rose to prominence in the 1960s and in a career spanning over four decades starred in acclaimed films Red Dessert, Camelot, The Field, Patriot Games, Unforgiven and Gladiator. He also played Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise before his death in 2002.

The festival announced some highlights from its upcoming 2018 programme during the launch of the Global Irish Festival Series – an initiative by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Failte Ireland to welcome home the Irish diaspora to Ireland this October – in the New York Irish Consulate in September.  Richard Harris’ son actor Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; TURN: Washington’s Spies; Kingdom) represented the Harris family at the event. 

This year, the festival will screen over 125 features and short films – of which many will be followed by cast and crew Q&As. It will also have industry workshops, industry super-panels (featuring top producers and directors), networking events and live music/theatrical events, including a red-carpet black-tie gala awards evening.

“This year the festival harks back to the golden age of Hollywood,” said Festival Director Zeb Moore, announcing the programme for 2018. It kicks off on Thursday, 25th October with a gala premiere screening of Constance Smith – Hollywood Tragedy.

The documentary tells the story of actress Constance Smith, born in Clare in 1928 and raised in Limerick who became a Hollywood leading lady in the early to mid-1950s. Headhunted by world-famous producer Darryl Zanuck after featuring in low-budget films in the UK, Smith quickly forged a career in the United States by her early 20s. However, forced to defend herself against sexist studio executives, the roles began to dry up and she soon fell into drink and drug addiction. A Q&A with director Brian Reddin will follow the screening as will a 1950s themed afterparty.

Continuing the Hollywood theme is a screening of The Brothers Warner, documenting the saga of four film pioneers — Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack who rose from immigrant poverty through personal tragedies persevering to create Warner Brothers studios. Director and grand-daughter of Harry Warner, Cass Warner will present the film.

Moore also commented: “We are the only festival to have a live script read and a black-tie awards night. This year we have a very exciting reading of a period drama feature in development. Also, a major highlight of the festival will be our awards night.”

Organisers say to expect red carpet glamour and live entertainment with spectacular musical numbers, followed by the legendary after-party in Limerick’s luxurious five-star Savoy Hotel.

The Richard Harris International Film Festival is one of the fastest growing film festivals in Europe, doubling in size each year since its inception. “From humble beginnings in 2013, when we screened 10 films to screening 120 films last year, the festival continues to grow,” says Moore.

Discussing this growth, Festival Chair Rob Gill announced that the event will be significantly expanded and extended to seven days in 2019, to showcase more emerging filmmakers. Meanwhile, Mr. Gill also announced a new initiative to commence next year – the first Irish TV drama Writers’ Room. This programme will bring writers of different backgrounds and experience from all around the world to Limerick to write the next great long-form drama series in a US writers’ room style environment and residency.

The writers will be mentored by experienced writers and producers.  “One of our key objectives as a festival is to encourage innovative content creation and to promote and discover emerging above and below the line talent,” says Gill. “Long-form TV drama is, arguably, the defining art-form of the early 21st century.  With long-form, high-end drama matching feature film production values, incorporating a TV drama element into the festival is a logical step in our evolution. While this initiative is in its’ embryonic stage, our mid-term ambition is to contribute to Ireland growing as an exporter of content, rather than talent”. 

The writers’ room will be part of a new media conference – the iMET (Interactive Media & Entertainment Technology) summit, in association with Emerald Giant Productions. It will explore technological disruption in the audio-visual and entertainment sectors including theatrical film, TV, gaming and sports production.

This year’s festival takes place in Limerick from the 25th to the 29th of October in various locations and venues around Limerick City, including the Belltable and Millenium Theatre, LIT.

For further details and to book tickets, visit www.richardharrisfilmfestival.com 

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