Richard Harris International Film Festival bigger than ever in its sixth year

Limerick once again welcomed The Richard Harris International Film Festival (RHIFF) this past weekend which ran from October 25-29.

The festival is now in its sixth year with high attendance including the Mayor of the City and County of Limerick James Collins.

The opening night used the golden age of Hollywood as a backdrop to showcase the documentary ‘Constance Smith: Hollywood Tragedy’ which was produced and directed by Brian Reddin.

Constance Smith was a Limerick-born Hollywood starlet who unfortunately succumbed to alcohol abuse.

Photo: Maoilíosa Ní Loideáin, Limerick Voice

“Most people in Ireland haven’t heard of Constance Smith and it’s a shame because she’s an amazing woman, she was born and reared in Limerick, she was always very proud of being a Limerick woman,” said Reddin while introducing his documentary.

The screening was followed by a Q&A conducted by Gerry Stembridge of the crew and contributors who were in attendance at the opening ceremony.

Rosalee O’ Connell who attended the opening ceremony said: “I love the idea they did a film about a woman who made it as a star and then became homeless, that’s a fascinating and tragic story, it’s great to see it, it’s always important to support your local people, there are very good films being produced in Limerick on small and no budgets.”

The festival was chosen as one of the four festivals of the Global Irish Festival Series, an initiative run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Fáilte Ireland to welcome home Ireland’s diaspora.

Photo: Monica Wu, Limerick Voice

The shorts programme boasted a strong selection this year from countries including Slovenia, Iran, Spain, France, Mexico, the Netherlands and the UK.

One of the members in attendance, along with his partner Ronan, was Erik Trujillo who presented a non-dialogue short filmed in Mexico about someone not being able to cross a street.

“It is a metaphor about not being able to move forward,” Erik said.

Another member in attendance, Robert Grose, spoke of his interest in producing and his support for Zeb Moore, one of the RHIFF’s managers.

“We produced one of the films that was here a couple of years ago, I’m friends with Zeb and André Frauenstein who had the film ‘Siembamba’ last year, I’m going to be involved with a project with them, so we thought we would make it a go,” added Grose.

The festival screened over 130 films this year with a variety of workshops taking place.

One of the shorts screened at the Belltable in Limerick was writer, producer and lead actor Laura O’ Shea’s ‘Hold the Line.’

The 12 minutes short portrays the trials and tribulations of call centre work through the protagonist Em.

“It is a very personal film and I wrote the script based on real life experience, the reason I decided to take the leap from ‘actor’ to ‘filmmaker’ was that I was simply getting bored of waiting for someone to offer me a part that I wanted to play, while also bringing a real and touching story to life,” added O’ Shea.

Photo: Laura O’Shea

The film has had 6 festival selections including The Kerry film Festival and IndieCork Film Festival and won Best Actress in a Female Role and Best Editor for Philip Shanahan at the RHIFF.

“I submitted ‘Hold the Line’ to the RHIFF because I’m a huge fan of the festival, I have witnessed it grow by leaps and bounds, Limerick has always given birth to excellent actors, writers and musicians.

“It’s quickly becoming one of the leading film festivals in Ireland and has really put Limerick on the map in the festival circuit, Zeb, Sylvia and Rob are doing a great job with the festival and I’m excited to see what the future holds for it,” O’ Shea said.

There is also an exhibition at Glazed street, City Hall, titled ‘Limerick to Hollywood’ which showcases the careers of Richard Harris and Constance Smith.

It runs until November 30 and is free entry.

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