Legendary director Jim Sheridan to appear at film festival in Birr

Legendary Irish film director Jim Sheridan, who is known for films such as My Left Foot, In The Name of the Father and The Field will give a masterclass to local directors and a talk about his career in moviemaking at the Offline Film Festival next month.

This year's festival in Birr will take place from Wednesday, October 11, until Sunday, October 15.

Director of the festival Gary Hoctor explained that a patron of the festival met Mr Sheridan in Dublin and mentioned the popular Offaly event, which piqued the director's interest.

He agreed to give a career retrospective talk in Birr Theatre and Arts Centre on Wednesday, October 11, at 8pm, along with a masterclass for local directors at 2.30pm that day in John's Hall.

“We've never had somebody at our festival as high profile as Jim Sheridan and we've kind of deliberately kept it low-key. We've always had lots of visits from filmmakers visit from Ireland and overseas. The reputation of the festival has spread through word of mouth,” said Gary.

Jim Sheridan's career retrospective talk will delve into his incredible catalogue of work. Tickets are €22.50 and can be purchased from offline.ticketsolve.com.

The masterclass for directors will provide local filmmakers with an opportunity to hear Mr Sheridan break down famous scenes from his films, discuss how he directs the actors, and how a director gets the energy needed for a particular scene from an actor.

Mr Hoctor said he was “extremely excited” about Mr Sheridan's presence at the festival and that that he would love to do the masterclass himself.

He added that it would provide emerging filmmakers with the opportunity to get "hands-on experience" from Mr Sheridan and learn how to up their game.

Places for the masterclass are limited and the selected filmmakers will be chosen by the festival, in conjunction with the local Arts Office, following an application process.

There will be a free industry masterclass on 'The Collaborative Art of Producing for Film & TV' on Sunday, October 15 in Dooly's Hotel, Birr at 11.30am hosted by the National Talent Academy for Film and Television Drama.

The event will feature talks with Garret Daly and Martina McGlynn from Mixed Bag Media, Limerick filmmakers Greg Burrowes and Ronan Cassidy from Carbonated Comet, and Script Editor Lena Byrne, who has worked on RTÉ's Fair City, BBC's The Roy Files and Nickelodeon's Becca's Bunch.

There will be a 'Made in Midlands' event on Thursday, October 12, in Birr Theatre and Arts Centre at 8pm and this will feature screenings of live-action short films made in the Midlands and from filmmakers in the region.

Kilcormac woman Maura Foley who won the Film Offaly Award Bursary in 2022 will have her short film Missing, which is about a new mother struggling with post-partum anxiety, screened at the event.

Other offerings from local filmmakers will include Stable by Aisling O'Regan Sargent, Millie's Maxol Magic by Conor English and Ethan Scally, Duffle Bag Boy by Christy Higgins and For The Love Of It by Christor and Caoimhe Glennon.

Mr Hoctor said that filmmakers will travel from around Ireland, along with countries such as Estonia, Sweden, France and Germany to be involved in the OFFline festival this year.

He also highlighted the benefit of the festival to the tourism sector in Birr outside of the peak season. “It's great because they spend money in the locality while they're here,” he said.

A total of six documentaries will be shown at Offline Film Festival this year, at Tin Jug Studio and Birr Theatre & Arts Studio, including Smoke Sauna Sisterhood; Mincéír; A Bunch of Amateurs; The Last Playboy and Hungry Hill.

Film enthusiasts may have already heard of the Offaly-made documentary 100 Years of Change which sold out two screenings in Birr Theatre and Arts Centre earlier this month.

The theatre will host another screening of the popular documentary, which focuses on the life of 100-year-old Shinrone woman Mabel Wallace, on Sunday, October 15, at 3pm.

Tickets for the screening cost €12 and can be purchased from offline.ticketsolve.com.

The annual 'Fright Night' event will take place on Friday, October 13 in Kinnity Castle, with a selection of spooktacular short films screening from 8.30pm.

A Ukrainian animated film, Mavka will be screened for children in Birr Theatre & Arts Centre on Thursday, October 12 in English, and on Friday, October 13 in Ukrainian, both at 12pm.

The festival was officially launched yesterday (Thursday) at an event in the old cinema on Brendan Street (directly across from Birr Technology Centre.)

A number of short films were screened at the launch night to give people a taste of what's in store at the festival.