Toronto is the reel deal for Irish films

Esther McCarthy profiles the movies hoping to make a mark at the prestigious Canadian festival.

Toronto is the reel deal for Irish films

Esther McCarthy profiles the movies hoping to make a mark at the prestigious Canadian festival.

It's become one of the most high-profile and prestigious film festivals in the world — and the Irish are coming.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) begins on Thursday, and is now widely regarded as the international launchpad for next spring’s Oscar contenders.

Irish cinema has a very strong showing at TIFF this year, with five films having their world premieres and Famine drama Black 47 making its international debut. We look at the Irish movies heading to TIFF.


Starring Cork actress Sarah Greene and Waterford’s Moe Dunford, Rosie marks Roddy Doyle’s first original screenplay in almost two decades and will have its world premiere at Toronto.

Doyle was prompted to write this timely story of Ireland’s homeless crisis after hearing a radio interview with a woman who had spent the previous day in her car, with her kids, trying to find temporary accommodation for that night. Paddy Breathnach (Viva, I Went Down) directs.

The drama focuses on a young couple who try to find a home for themselves and their four kids after their landlord sells their accommodation.

Float Like A Butterfly

Shot on location in Goleen, Skibbereen and around West Cork last summer, Carmel Winters’ boxing drama centres on Frances, an Traveller who fights for the right to pursue her passion of boxing.

But first she has to contend with her father, recently released from prison, in order to get into the ring.

The feisty Frances has to contend not only with her opponents, but with old-fashioned macho attitudes in this drama, from the director of Snap, which will world premiere as part of TIFF’s Discovery programme.


Neil Jordan directs the legendary Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Grace Moretz in his latest, a psychological thriller set in New York but filmed mostly in Dublin.

The film centres on a lonely widow, Greta (Huppert) who befriends a young, naive woman (Moretz) at a vulnerable time in her life.

The two become good friends, but their relationship becomes troubling as Greta’s attentions increase.

The suspenseful, character-driven thriller, co-written by Jordan and screenwriter Ray Wright, features a support cast including Jordan regular Stephen Rea.

It will have its world premiere under Special Presentations at TIFF.

Papi Chulo

Writer-director John Butler follows up his charming coming-of-age film Handsome Devil with this feature, set in modern-day Los Angeles.

Again focusing on an unlikely friendship, the movie tells the story of a weatherman, Sean (Matt Bomer) who has an on-air meltdown and is urged to take time out by his employers.

He hires an older immigrant, Ernesto (Alejandro Patino) to carry out home improvements.

But he also becomes Sean’s sounding board in this culture-clash comedy drama.

Papi Chulo world premieres in Toronto’s Special Presentations programme.

Black 47

Lance Daly’s revenge thriller, opening in Irish cinemas this week, will screen in TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema section.

Set during the bleakest year of the Irish Famine, the film tells of a battle-savvy British army deserter, Feeney, who returns home to find his family devastated the effects of the famine and hostilities from the British.

Enraged, Feeney vows to avenge the injustices on his loved ones right through the chain of command.

A four-man crew is tasked with stopping him, led by Hannah (Hugo Weaving) who once fought alongside him.

The starry cast includes Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene.

Vita & Virginia

Set among England’s Bloomsbury Set but filmed almost entirely on location in Ireland, Vita & Virginia tells the story of an unconventional love affair between literary icon Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and socialite Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton).

Co-produced by Ireland’s Blinder Films, the film is set in 1922, when the happily married Vita crosses paths with Woolf and sets about seducing her.

Little does either woman know that their dalliance will lead to a deep friendship and the publication of a work that will become their shared legacy.

The film will have its world premiere at TIFF.

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