The Belltable Theatre was lit up and decked out for the Red Carpet Gala Night of the 2016 Richard Harris International Film Festival yesterday evening.
Playing host to a range of Ireland’s biggest stars, the night was an opportunity to remember the Limerick acting legend, Richard Harris, while festival guests, such as actress Fionnula Flanagan, and local people rubbed shoulders with one another.
Speaking about Richard Harris, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, Mayor of Limerick City and County Council said, “He was very fond of his native city. It’s a good way to celebrate him and a huge contribution to the city of Limerick.”
Actor and director, Terry McMahon, who ran a special acting workshop as part of the festival, said Limerick was a perfect choice for the festival, not only because it is Richard Harris’ hometown, but because it is a collaborative community of audience and artist.
“There’s very few audiences as receptive as Limerick audiences. There’s an emotional, psychological and visceral engagement, combined with a sleight of hand sense of humor. It’s an amazing thing to experience,” he said.
Conceived by husband and wife team Zeb and Slyvia Moore, the festival is in its fourth year and invites filmmakers from around the world to participate and submit their works as well as local Irish talent.
Jared Harris, son of Richard Harris and well-known actor, said that he is amazed at the organisers’ passion and enthusiasm for the festival.
“It’s phenomenal and they work bloody hard,” he said, “Without the two of them and their team this festival wouldn’t happen.”
He said that when the festival was in its infancy he and the organisers had conversations about the festival representing the personality and interests of the late great actor.
“His interests spanned many areas from poetry, literature and sports,” Mr Harris said. “He loved storytelling and he loved people and we hoped the festival could get to that point and represent those ideals and loves of his. And this year it feels like that goal has started to become a reality.”
The festival runs from October 27 to 31 and includes sessions and talks with musician Jimmy Webb, actress Fionnula Flanagan, and a Richard Harris International Film Festival Culture Trail that performs music, poetry and theatre pieces around Limerick City.
There is also plenty of short film screenings from submitted filmmakers and opportunities for them to meet and discuss their work and the craft.
Sam Eather, a young filmmaker from Sydney, Australia, had a feature film that screened at last year’s festival and enjoyed the experience so much that he’s back this year with two short films.
“There’s so much production work here in Ireland, and Limerick is an amazing place to hang out with fellow filmmakers and network,” he said.
The Gala Night concluded with a screening of 1974’s Juggernaut starring Richard Harris, Omar Sharif and Anthony Hopkins and an after party at the George Boutique Hotel on O’Connell Street in Limerick.
The awards night is on Sunday October 30 and the festival concludes on Monday October 31 with a screening of sports documentray “Small Potatoes – Who Killed the USFL?” and an afternoon BBQ at JJ Bowles Bar, Thomondgate.
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