“It’s great to see confident young people coming out with talent and making films that are as good as any that are coming from anywhere around the world.”

Irish Film Festival Director Dr Enda Murray and the Consul General of Ireland in Sydney Jane Connolly launched the Festival’s third year on Thursday at a gala event at Paddington’s Chauvel Cinema. Speaking to the large and lively crowd, Murray highlighted the eight films that will screen throughout the weekend including three documentaries, comedies and a number of dramatic features.

“It gives me exceptional pride to introduce the opening night film for the Irish Film Festival which is A Date for Mad Mary,” said Murray. “It’s an absolutely fabulous film but it’s also from Drogheda and that’s where I’m from… It’s absolutely wonderful to see young people like Darren Thornton coming out of Drogheda telling stories which resonate all around the world 12,000 miles away in Sydney.”

Starring Tara Lee from The Fall and Seana Kerslake in the title role, A Date for Mad Mary follows Mary’s attempts to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding for which she is the bridesmaid. As frequently funny as it is poignant, despite plenty of memorable dialogue it’s actually the silent exchanges between characters that prove among the most humorous and endearing, whether it be a series of less than ideal first dates or the two leads sharing an awkward bus ride home.

Though Kerslake gets the marked heft of the screen time, Lee, with comparatively little to do, still manages to have near as much of an impact on the dramatic proceedings as her co-star, depicting a range as an actress well beyond that seen in her break-out turn in The Fall.

“The second thing about tonight’s film is that it shows a window on contemporary Ireland, something we were keen to do with the Festival,” Murray told the crowd. “I find when you’re living out of Ireland it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the changes… it’s important to show contemporary Ireland to Australia but it’s also important to show contemporary Ireland to ourselves so we can be proud of the great work that’s coming out of Ireland.”

“For a country our size, the impact we are making through film is remarkable,” said the Consul General, who congratulated the Irish Film Festival for going “from strength to strength.”

“Festivals like this one play a very important role in the continuing mutually beneficial relationship that our two countries enjoy,” she added.

The Irish Film Festival screens at Sydney’s Chauvel Cinema from 30 March – 2 April and at Melbourne’s Kino Cinema from 6-8 April. For more information head to the Festival website