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Bev Cohn: LA Irish Film Festival
neon sign for the 3rd Annual Los Angeles Irish Film Festival at Aero Theatre, Santa Monica
Aero Theatre Marquee. Photo: Beverly Cohn

Los Angeles Irish Film Festival
Giggles, Laughs, and Tears
By Beverly Cohn

he 3rd Annual Los Angeles Irish Film Festival, compiled by Lisa McLaughlin-Strassman and Juli C. Laselle, took place last weekend and served up a delicious stew of unforgettable films which celebrate Ireland's art of moviemaking and the heart of storytelling for which the Irish are famous.

Following is but a sample of the features and shorts presented during the four-day festival which kicked off Friday night at the Motion Picture Academy's Linwood Dunn Theatre with William Rogers in Dublin, a silent film made in 1927, and Ireland A Nation: 1914, a story of Ireland's struggle for Home Rule.

American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica hosted the next three days, with Friday night beginning with The Line, a very amusing tale of writer's bloc. Written and directed by Maria O'Connor and starring Jaimie Carswell and Anthony Murphy, this short silent film used animation and live action, with a wonderful musical score by Joe Conlan. The entertaining moral is one man's lousy writing is another man's bestseller.

Timmy Creed, Paul Courtney and TJ Griffin in the film My Brothers
Top to Bottom: Timmy Creed, Paul Courtney and
TJ Griffin in "My Brothers." Courtesy Photo

In the Irish tradition of illuminating the struggles of family life, the feature, Will Collins' My Brothers, is a poignant tale about three brothers whose dad is dying and their journey to the seaside town of Ballybunion in a broken down bread van to find a replacement watch for his busted one. Under the brilliant direction of Paul Fraser, we gain deep insight into the dynamics between the three siblings in their struggle with their interdependence, as well as the dangers that could lurk on a country road. The three young actors, Paul Courtney, (Noel) Timmy Creed, (Paudie) and the most amazing TJ Griffin, who plays Scwally the youngest of the three, portray the brothers with incredible skill. Griffin's gorgeous face is Ireland. The film is Fraser's directorial debut and one hopes there will be many more films from this gifted director.

Aidan Quinn, John Bell and Connie Nielson in the film A Shine of Rainbows
Top: Aidan Quinn, (bottom) John Bell and Connie Nielson Photo: Courtesy Photo

The Saturday matinee featured the most splendid, beautifully shot A Shine of Rainbows, a powerful script written by Vic Sarin, Catherine Spear, and Dennis Foor and tenderly directed by Vic Sarin. This stunning film, shot in County Donegal, is the story about Tomas, an eight-year-old orphan, brilliantly portrayed by John Bell, who is adopted by the beautiful and talented Connie Nielson (Maire O'Donnell) and taken to Corrie Island to live with her and her seemingly unresponsive husband, "Himself," played by the amazing Aidan Quinn. Maire's patience and unending magical love for this troubled child transforms him from painful shyness to a rather sociable young chap who makes friends and overcomes some of his demons.

John Bell and Aidan Quinn in a beach scene from the film A Shine of Rainbows
L-R: John Bell as Tomas and Aidan Quinn as "Himself" in A Shine of Rainbows.
Photo: Courtesy Photo

But alas, tragedy strikes and it's time to break out the tissues to stem the flow of assured tears as a new bond unfolds between the grieving "Himself" and the young lad.

Saturday evening offered up Moore Street Masala, an amusing musical short about the pursuit of love by a store clerk named Baba played by Deva Naidu and the woman of his dreams, portrayed by Anna Wilson. Written and directed by David O'Sullivan, it was the winner of the Audience Award at the 2009 Cork International Film Festival.

Tara McMurray Taylor as the She Devil bride in the film Cup Cake
The "She Devil" bride waiting at the altar. Courtesy Photo

Cup Cake, an edgy comedy written by Christine Murphy and directed by Colin McIvor, is about a young man who inherits his family's cupcake shop after the mysterious death of his parents and has turned it into an abysmal failure. Faced with a dangerous debt, he makes a deal to marry a desperate "she devil" in order to be absolved of his debit. Surrounded by a colorful group of dysfunctional friends, mayhem breaks out as they pitch in to help him bake a cake that will win a contest offering a big prize and getting him off the marriage hook. Under McIvor's lively direction, the action moves along at breakneck speed with multiple laughs along the way.

The festival continued through Sunday and for a list of the other feature films and shorts go to With the outstanding material presented at this year's festival, we all look forward to the Fourth Annual Irish Film Festival.

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

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