Mark your calendars, Ottawa. Right now, just go get that pen and walk over to your calendar. The Irish Film Festival Ottawa (IFFO) is back for yet another weekend of the finest available Irish Cinema between Friday 23 and Sunday 25 March at Art Court, 2 Daly Avenue.
Festival Director, Patrick Murray, and his committee, always select an incredibly wide range of films, covering historical drama, documentary, the trials and triumphs of modern Irish society, to ludicrous comedy. In short, I have learned that a weekend at IFFO shows the rapid social evolution of Ireland over the last century, from the rural farming landscape and coastal life to the harshness of modern urban life. All issues are on the table. Nothing is off limits.
Positioned late in March, not long after the mayhem of St. Patrick's Day (and all the lead up to it), IFFO offers the festival goer with a relaxing sanctuary of Irishness, without all the fuss of green glitter, green beer, green . . . . well, everything. The lights go down and you are in your own space, absorbing an Irish story, a story about anything. It all starts with the Opening Night Gala will feature a full house of cinema goers, a great opening feature, likely an appearance by one of the film's actors, normally the Irish Ambassador to Canada introduces the opening film, and this is all followed by a live Irish music session featuring Ottawa's finest Irish musicians.
Typically, at least one feature is shown in the Irish language (subtitled). Each movie is followed by a live Q and A with the Director and/or Producer of the film. This is a really interesting part of the festival, and something you will never get by going to the local cineplex. The Saturday matinee is tailored for the enjoyment of children (to be honest, last year's Children's feature was enjoyed immensely by every adult in the room!).
I have personally enjoyed this festival very much, every year. I'm going, regardless, but it's a weekend I pray for rain. It just makes it all the more Irish. If you haven't been, just go. You'll be delighted.