By Sarah O’Brien
The Richard Harris International Film Festival (RHIFF) held its annual launch in Dolan’s Bar and Restaurant in Limerick yesterday evening.
The prestigious film festival, now in its 4th year, will run from the 27th-31st of October and will screen as many as 60 Irish and International Short and Feature films over the course of its newly extended five day run.
In attendance of the launch was Fine Gael TD Tom Neville, he told the Limerick Voice:
“I’m so enthusiastic about the positivity the festival has brought to the city of Limerick over the last number of years. It’s helped completely rebrand the city.”
Deputy Neville, who is also a trained actor, has been shortlisted for this year’s One Minute Monologue competition.
“The point of my piece is to convey sensitivity, vulnerability and enigma”, he said speaking about his brief rendition from the 1997 film ‘Contact’ featuring Jodie Foster.
The 41-year-old politician was also nominated for the One Minute Monologue award last year for his portrayal of heroin addict Mark Renton in the film Trainspotting.
With the opening of Troy Studios in Castletroy and the growing acclaim of the RHIFF internationally, “There’s no reason why Limerick can’t be the capital of film in Europe”, Deputy Neville stressed at the launch.
The festival, which was established in 2013 by Sylvia and Zeb Moore of the Magic Roundabout Theatre Company, is largely focused on encouraging Irish filmmakers to return to Ireland to showcase their work.
Where Irish filmmakers might once have felt they had to go abroad to achieve acclaim, “Now they can work and live in the city they were born in if they so choose”, said RHIFF Commercial Director Rob Gill.
“Richard Harris has ploughed a path for Irish film and actors, you only have to look at this year’s Oscars to see that. It’s completely unprecedented.
“It won’t be long before we see another actor of the calibre of Harris himself coming out of Limerick” he continued.
This year, RHIFF has received 200 entries from more than 25 countries with nations like Canada, Syria, Iran and Brazil all taking part.
“We’re amazed at how broad the international appeal has been, especially when you consider the difficulties some film makers may have had” Mr Gill said in reference to an entry they received from an Iranian filmmaker around the issue of LGBT rights.
Other famous faces who attended the launch included actor Kevin Kiely Jnr. and Munster Rugby players Andrew Conway and Duncan Casey.
Highlights from the festival will include audiences with three time Grammy award-winner Jimmy Webb and the legendary actress Fionnula Flanagan, the latter of which will receive this year’s RHIFF 2016 Creative Talent Award.