Future of Richard Harris Festival is on firm footing

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Star power: Richard Harris sons Jamie and Jared - and his wife Allegra - plus the late actor's granddaughter Ella arrive at 69 O'Connell Street last October for the opening night of the Richard Harris International Film Festival, which returns this year for a third time. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
A FIVE-year deal signed with the Richard Harris estate has put a film festival held in the late movie star’s honour in Limerick on a secure footing.

A FIVE-year deal signed with the Richard Harris estate has put a film festival held in the late movie star’s honour in Limerick on a secure footing.

The Richard Harris International Film Festival, returning for a third successive year on the October Bank Holiday weekend, will again attract film stars and Harris family members to the city, with an ever strengthening connection to the Newport Beach Film Festival in California further adding to the fledgling festival’s burgeoning reputation.

Jared Harris and his wife Allegra will return to the festival they attended last year, while fellow sons Jamie and Damian are also hoping to attend, depending on their own shooting schedules.

Actors Brigitte Millar and Sean Cronin – who worked on Spectre and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation respectively – will be in attendance, as will Jack Reynor and his Limerick girlfriend Madeline Mulqueen, likewise shooting schedules permitting.

Entry is now open for submissions to the festival, which has a focus on encouraging and celebrating the Irish film-making Diaspora, and films are flooding in from around the world, while there are new strands of music and literature added this year, plus a monologue and portrait competition, but the development most exciting organiser Zeb Moore is confirmation that two production companies will be in attendance during the three days of the festival.

“What I am really excited about is the industry interest that we have been receiving,” said Limerick actor Zeb, responsible for creative direction along with wife Sylvia. “I have tied in with two production companies – Aston Productions and Frenzy Films, who will be coming to cast and crew both their movies, that will go into production in Limerick, in the new year.

“Because we have introduced a monologue competition, that will give a chance for actors to be seen as well. (But) there will be a benefit there not just for actors, but also for people working in the industry. These companies want to get on board and see what is available, who is available,” he added.

International visual artist Thomas Delohery, who hails from Limerick and created an iconic image of Harris, will curate the portrait competition from his Australian home. Zeb says the backing of the Harris estate and the Newport Beach connection means “the festival is on a much more secure footing”.

“We are now structured in a much more solid fashion, we are now in a much better position to actively look for more serious sponsorship from a major company, securing the future of the festival,” he said.

“The Newport connection is important - we are the only company as it stands in Ireland that has a direct link to California industry. The festival is expanding, it is extending to a wider audience, which is the key goal - it is about boosting the attendance. The people I have met all over the world were already well aware of the festival, so it has the profile already and people are interested in coming.

“It has that very friendly atmosphere, that is what people are looking at,” he added.

Entries are now open for the event, which runs from October 23-25. See www.richardharrisfilmfestival.com.