As Montreal gears up for its 375th, there is another less illustrious but no less special birthday being celebrated – Cine Gael’s 25th season of bringing Irish films to Montreal.
“It can be any degree of Irish, where the producer, director and actors are all Irish, or an Irish co-production,” says Lynn Doyle, founder of the annual film series, Doyle, the first woman to have served as president of the venerable St. Patrick Society, grew up believing “it didn’t matter if you were a man or woman, you could do anything, you just carry on.”
She worked her way up the ranks of the St. Patrick Society and joined its cultural committee. In 1992, when a film-loving member of the Irish community, Anthony Kirby, suggested there should be more Irish films screened in Montreal, she blithely took on the task.
“I pretty much knew nothing. ‘How hard can that be,’ I said in my ignorance.”
A year later Cine Gael launched the festival that many Montrealers look forward to every year. Doyle now works with eight dedicated volunteers tracking and programming the films. Among others the St. Patrick Society and the Irish
embassy (the actual embassy, not the bar) remain generous supporters.
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“Cine Gael evolved into a series that begins in January and ends in early May,” Doyle said. “We have about eight evenings including an opening and closing film, with receptions.”
All films are screened at J. A. DeSève cinema, at 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. Members pre-pay $75 to attend all events, or you can just show up to any one film for $12.
“The package deal for the closing $25 film and reception is the biggest bargain in town,” Doyle says.
Invited speakers introduce the films or, directly from Ireland, a filmmaker will Skype with the audience before a show, even if it’s 3 am on their end, thanks to the efforts of British-born Tim Hine. He is slated to eventually take over from Doyle.
Coming up on March 31 is the series’ most popular screening – an evening where several short films will be screened.
On April 7 John Butler’s Handsome Devil will be shown, and on April 21 the Chair of the Irish Film Board, Dr. Annie Doona, will be in town for the weekend and speak at A Weekend focusing on Women and Film in Ireland.
Info: 514-481-3505 or visit www.cinegaelmontreal.com