The Festival closed in Sydney with the announcement of the Breakthrough Award and now heads to Melbourne and Perth.

“It’s important for Australians to know and to see stories coming out of Ireland but it’s also important for Irish people to see stories coming out of contemporary Ireland because it lets them know that things are changing and it really keeps them in touch with their Irish roots.”

Irish Film Festival Director Dr Enda Murray wrapped the Festival’s third year in Sydney last night, before heading to Melbourne’s Kino Cinema for the first time. The festival’s first venture further interstate, a sidebar event will also be held at the Revelation International Film Festival in July, with the prospect of also expanding to Perth in 2018.

Screening eight Irish Films from the past year including the very moving comedy Sanctuary, about two intellectually disabled people who long to be together and their group of friends, the opening night feature A Date for Mad Mary starring The Fall’s Tara Lee and the documentary Bobby Sands: 66 Days, the festival closed with Twice Shy, depicting a road trip to London for a young Irish couple who are coping with an unplanned pregnancy.

“I became aware of this film last year and I really liked the fact that it told a story that is very relevant for young people and especially relevant for young people in Ireland,” said Murray. “I thought it was a very important film; there’s a discussion going on at the moment in Ireland about the abolition of the Eighth Amendment which is a Constitutional ban on abortion so it’s very current and really feeds in to the aim of the film festival which is to shine a light on contemporary Ireland.”

“We wanted to tell the story of a young couple who are faced with a decision like many other people are and go on that journey with them,” said Fionn Greger, the film’s producer. Twice Shy won the Breakthrough Award at this year’s Festival and is set to screen at Cannes in May.

“The two leads were incredible, they brought as much professionalism as they did charm,” said Greger. “We met many Andys and many Maggies but once we found Shane Murray-Corcoran and Iseult Casey we knew they were exactly what the story needed… you could have the two best actors in the world but if there’s no chemistry it will show on screen.

“The movie was made for a tiny budget, we accomplished a lot with the generosity of the cast and crew without a doubt, and now we’re hoping to take it to the next level.”

Frequently confronting but not without incisive comedic touches, while much of the interplay between the leads and a terse twist are amongst the most dramatic chapters of the film, it’s still a silent moment shared between Andy and Maggie in a hotel room that proves the most heart-rending.

“In Ireland it’s very topical; it’s a very topical issue in many countries,” said Greger. “What we hope the film does is to either start the conversation with people or keep the conversation going.”

The Irish Film Festival screened at Sydney’s Chauvel Cinema and will screen at Melbourne’s Kino Cinema from April 6-8. For more information head to the Festival website.

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