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These are the next Irish films we're all going to be talking about

The details were announced this week.

ONE OF THE most exciting parts of the cultural year is finding out what to look forward to on the big screen in the 12 months ahead.

Yesterday, the Irish Film Board launched its slate of films for 2017. While some will be in the cinema in the coming months, others are in production and might be a bit longer getting on our screens.

But the most important thing is getting a sneak peek of what we can expect – and which ones could be the breakout hits of the year.

In 2016, big hits included The Young Offenders and Mad Mary, while films like Viva and the Siege of Jadotville also got people talking.

Handsome Devil (2) Handsome Devil

Films we can definitely expect on our screens soon are Handsome Devil from John Butler (director of The Stag); Maudie, directed by Aisling Walsh and starring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins; and The Secret Scripture.

Assis Fernando Brasil Lopez / YouTube

John Butler, director of Handsome Devil – which has been chosen for the Closing Gala of the forthcoming Audi Dublin International Film Festival – told more about the film:

“It’s two boys in a school and they’re from contrasting sides of the school hierarchy in every sense, and their friendship is tested by the authorities – so it’s just about difference, and ambiguity, and tolerance.”

The topic of the film has become even more pertinent in recent months, he pointed out. “The most interesting part for me is that idea that it’s become a political film in the last 12 months since shooting it. I hope this isn’t true but maybe in hindsight we were at this apex of liberal acceptance and we’ve now regressed.

“[Handsome Devil is] just a story about acceptance of the other and of ambiguity and of difference, which should be an uncontroversial idea but which has now sort of become contested.”

It will have its theatrical release in the United States in the first half of this year.

Producer of the film Rebecca O’Flanagan pointed to the Irish Film Board’s call for its government funding to be raised to pre-recession levels of €20million, and how this would benefit Irish filmmakers.

“That continued pressure to say there needs to be an increase in that investment, if you go back to €20m it’s really not a huge investment in terms of the size of the industry and what it’s doing now,” she said. But she noted that it would benefit filmmakers’ careers in the long run: “You feel that what that allows it to become is career sustainable on an individual level as well – not just on an overall industry level.”

Director Nick Kelly, who is putting the finishing touches to his debut feature film, The Drummer and the Keeper, said that schemes like the Catalyst Project for emerging filmmakers – where costs are kept low to enable films to get made on a €350,000 budget, while keeping high-quality staff on board – are essential.

“It’s a very low-budget thing but having said that it’s very supported by the industry,” he said.

Of the ups and downs of the creative process, he added:

“My short Shoe got to the last 10 for an Oscar, and I thought happy days, I’m going to make a feature now. But actually it was incredibly difficult. I remember writing things and people liking them or not, but you know to say ‘OK here’s a million, two million [euro] or whatever to make a feature’… so when [Catalyst] came up it was literally an opportunity I could not not go for.”

It turned out, too, that his music background has helped with this phase in his career. “I spent about 10 years – more than 10 years – making films, and actually I think it’s the same as rock and roll… rather than going to film school, just join an obscure band,” he laughed.

Here are some of the Irish-made films that we can look forward to hearing more about in the next year or two. The earlier they are due to the IFB (the due date mentioned below), the better the chance we have of seeing them in the next year.

Good Favour

goodfavour-STILLS-275 Irish Film Board Irish Film Board

Director: Rebecca Daly. Script: Rebecca Daly, Glenn Montgomery

The story of a young man named Tom, who walks out of a huge forest into the lives of a strictly devout Christian community living in a remote place in central Europe. Due in mid-2017.

When Tom’s actions avert a potential tragedy, the mystery surrounding him grows. Where did he come from? Has God answered the prayers of his people?

The Lodgers


Director: Brian O’Malley Script: David Turpin

We brought you news of this release in our end-of-year piece about Irish film – it’s the story of two Anglo-Irish twins and the sinister presence that rules their house. Read more in our interview with the production company here. Due in early 2017.

When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn begins the break the rules set out by the lodgers. The consequences pull Rachel into a deadly confrontation with her brother and with the curse that haunts them.

The Belly of the Whale

IFB PC2017 Belly of the Whale

Director: Morgan Bushe Script: Morgan Bushe, Greg Flanagan

Starring Pat Shortt, this is about a misfit teen and businessman who devise a plan to rob the local amusement arcade. Set “in the dead of a North County Dublin winter”. Due in mid-2017.

Kissing Candice

KissingCandice Irish Film Board Irish Film Board

Director/Script: Aoife McArdle

Produced under the IFB’s Catalyst Project for emerging filmmakers, this is about a girl called Candice who falls in love with a man who mixes with the wrong crowd. Due in early 2017.

In a neighbourhood increasingly intimidated by volatile, unpredictable youths, can he help her escape? Or lead her into far great peril?


Tom Vaughan-Lawlor - MAZE 2017 catalogue photo from Mammoth IFB IFB

Director/Script: Stephen Burke

Starring a host of Irish names, including Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Barry Ward, this is set in 1983, during the time of the mass breakout of IRA prisoners. Ward mentioned in our interview with him last year. Due in early 2017.

…a tense and intriguing drama during which an unlikely relationship is forged between two adversaries.

Song of Granite

songofgranite-31 A A

Director: Pat Collins Script: Pat Collins, Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Sharon Whooley

Set in the West, this tells the story of traditional Irish singer Joe Heaney. Due in early 2017.

Enigmatic and fascinating, Heaney’s devotion to his art came at a huge personal cost to the singer and those closest to him.

Handsome Devil

Director: John Butler

The story of two boys from two different worlds, who end up sharing a room in their boarding school. Due out this year.

In its review, The Hollywood Reporter said:

When transfer student Conor (Galitzine) is assigned as his new roommate, the mismatch portends extreme discomfort. A melancholy hunk with bee-stung lips and a stellar record on the rugby field, Conor left his previous school under a cloud. Believing that cohabiting with the enemy will only make his school life more hellish, Ned erects a “Berlin Wall” down the middle of the room, attempting to keep to himself. But Conor has his own issues causing him to feel alone in the flock, and his shy efforts to reach out eventually give Ned an unaccustomed taste of friendship and acceptance.

Delinquent Season

Delinquent Season IFB IFB

Director/Script: Mark O’Rowe

Big names abound here: Cillian Murphy, Killian Scott and Catherine Walker. It’s about two couples whose friendship leads to an affair and betrayal. Currently being filmed in Ireland and due in mid-2017.

The two couples are forced to re-evaluate their lives and their respective marriages and friendships – but can anything be salvaged from the wreckage?

Halal Daddy

HD-14thJune-059-comp5-newsmoke Karl Hussey Karl Hussey

Director: Conor McDermottroe Script: Conor McDermottroe, Mark O’Halloran

Raghdan Aziz moves to Ireland to get away from his controlling father – but then things take a twist when he becomes the unexpected owner of a former abattoir turned halal factory. Due in early 2017.


Director: Tom Collins Script: Tom Collins, Greg Ó Braonáin

Peter Coonan stars as a priest who’s thrown into turmoil after meeting a man who he once convinced to fight in the 1916 Rising. Due in early 2017.

Once allies, the pair are now placed on opposite sides of the same agenda.

The Drummer and the Keeper

Drummer and Keeper PC2017 Karl Hussey Karl Hussey

Director/Script: Nick Kelly

With a background in the music business – he’s formerly of the band The Fat Lady Sings – Kelly is well poised to bring us this story of the relationship between a 25-year-old party animal with bipolar disorder and a young teen who has Asperger’s Syndrome. This was also produced under the Catalyst Project. Due in early 2017.

Michael Inside

Director/Script: Frank Berry

Filmed in Dublin and Cork, this is the story of Michael Healy, who is sentenced to three months in prison after holding drugs for a friend’s brother. Due in early 2017.

Upon release Michael, now institutionalist into criminality, is forced to put into practice what we has learnt in prison when the dealers pay Francis [his grandfather] another visit.

 Black ’47

Director: Lance Daly Script: PJ Dillon, Pierce Ryan with additional material by Eugene O’Brien and Lance Daly

Currently in production, this is about an Irish soldier who returns home to see the damage the Great Famine has done to his family. Due in late 2017.

When he sets on a destructive path to avenge his kin, a veteran British soldier is sent to stop him before he can stoke the flames of revolution. However, personal bonds forged by the soldiers’ time fighting together cause both men to question their motives.

The Third Wave

Director/Script: David Freyne

Another role for Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, who stars alongside Ellen Page in this creepy film about a virus that turns humans into zombie-like monsters. Due in mid-2017.

The cured are haunted with the memories of their actions while infected. As some try to readjust to a world that still fears them, the growing unrest threatens to plunge the world back into chaos.

Read: International marketing campaign on the way to entice more blockbusters to Ireland>

Read: Irish film had “probably the greatest year on record” in 2016>

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