Film Festival launches Irish Arts & Letters Festival at Fairfield University


The shamrocks will be dancing on the winter-weary day of Sunday, February 27, at 2 p.m., when Fairfield University's multi-event Irish Arts & Letters Festival opens with the film "Odd Man Out," in the Kelley Theatre in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. An Irish Tea, enhanced by the piano playing of John Shalvoy, follows the film at 4 p.m. in the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery adjacent to the theatre; while, in the lobby, the Session-Aires will sing Celtic songs and Jane Schulhof's photographs will be on display.

"Odd Man Out" (1947), directed by Carol Reed and starring James Mason and Robert Newton, is set in Northern Ireland and centers on an IRA killer. It was controversial when released but interesting to view now in light of the recent resurgence of similarly themed films such as "The Devil's Own," "Nothing Personal" and "Some Mother's Son," from which it seems aesthetically and politically remote.

Based on the novel by F. L. Green, the film is arguably a product of a divided society, demonstrating the collapse of rationality in the face of the loss of definite identity. But even this is a stretch and those hoping for a strong moral stance or a realistic portrait of a troubled country will not find it.

There are five other films in the series. Every Sunday afternoon in March an Irish tea consisting of sandwiches, Irish soda bread, cake, Irish shortbread cookies and "proper" Irish tea is scheduled at a cost of $5. Entertainment will be provided by the Session-Aires - bass, whistle, fiddle, accordion and keyboard (3/5); the Session-Aires return and there will be an exhibit of paintings, jewelry and artifacts by Kevin and Carmel Callahan (3/12); the Lenihan Dancers perform, accompanied by accordionist James McInnerney, and a dance costume exhibit based on designs from the Book of Kells is on view (3/19); Moira Bradley and the Castle Band perform and upscale Irish items from the Fifth Province will be on display (3/26). Times vary, call the box office. All films are $5; teas are $5; entertainment and exhibits are free. Fairfield University's copy of the Book of Kells (donated by the Wild Geese) will be on display in the lobby throughout the festival.

The remaining films in the series are as follows:

"The Snapper"
1993; Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring: Tina Kellegher, Colm Meaney, Ruth McCabe.
2 p.m., Sun., March 5
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre Tickets $5
Based on Roddy Doyle's trilogy, the movie celebrates modern-day family values, Dublin-style. The heroine, an unmarried, 20-year-old, independent supermarket clerk, can no longer hid the fact she is expecting a baby. She confides in her parents but refuses to reveal the father's identity or to consider an abortion.
"Some Mother's Son"
1996; Directed by Terry George
Starring: Helen Mirran, Fionnula Flanagan, Aiden Gillen.
7:30 p.m., Mon., March 13
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5
Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison when IRA prisoner Bobby Sands leads a protest against the treatment of IRA prisoners as criminals rather than as political prisoners. The film focuses on the mothers of the strikers and their struggle to save the lives of their sons.
"Into the West"
1992; Directed by Mike Newall
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Ruaidhri Conroy.
1 p.m., Sun., March 19
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5
Accused of a crime they didn't commit, two city kids and a magical horse are about to become the coolest outlaws ever to ride "Into the West." Grandpa Ward gives a foundling horse to his grandchildren who keep it in a tower-block flat in Dublin. The horse is stolen and the two boys set out to find it, succeed, and then flee on it. An inspiring story about coming to terms with death, family and friendship. Family events scheduled following the show.
"The Informer
1935; Directed by John Ford
Starring: Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Dan Gallagher.
7:30 p.m., Mon., March 20
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5
Ford's classic film is an important work of Irish patriotism that is still relevant. Known for his luminescent cinematography which defines the conflicts within his characters, Ford casts long dark shadows into the miserable Irish night to define the outcome of the piece. Plot involves an Irish rebel who, in 1922, informs on his friend, examines the psychological repercussions of his actions together with the guilt he feels.
"The Butcher Boy"
1998; Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Stephen Rea, Eammon Owens, Sean McGinley, Peter Gowen, Milo O'Shea.
5 p.m., Sun., March 26
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5
An original, whimsical tale of a psychotic boy, Francie Brady, whose childhood is far from pleasant. His father is a trumpet-playing drunk and his mother a manic-depressive who is either contemplating suicide or turning out baked goods at a feverish pitch. The film tears open the wounds of a young soul plunged into darkness because his happy illusions have been shattered.

The Irish Festival is sponsored in part by: The State of Connecticut, Office of Policy and Management in conjunction with the Connecticut Commission on the Arts; Fairfield University's College of Arts & Sciences Humanities Institute; the Kevin Conlisk family; and the Wild Geese, an Irish-American organization based in Greenwich. For more information call the box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll-free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 15, 2000

Vol. 32, No. 165