IT WAS a star-studded weekend at the third annual Richard Harris International Film Festival in Limerick, with movie stars mingling with industry professionals and local filmmakers alike on the red carpet at 69 O’Connell Street.
From Thursday to Sunday, the festival ran a wide variety of events from screenings and industry workshops with established film professionals to portrait and monologue competitions.
Festival director Zeb Moore commended the local support and all those involved with the running of the four-day event, held in honour of Harris, adding that the “national and international recognition has been phenomenal”.
“Everybody is overwhelmed. We can’t comprehend everything that was put into the festival, and the response from the people has been absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“We are so proud of what we have achieved this weekend,” he added.
On Thursday evening, the festivities kicked off with the unveiling of the Richard Harris commemorative plaque at Charlie St George’s Pub, on Parnell Street, followed by a workshop at the former Belltable Arts Centre. Mad Men star Jared, son of the late actor, unveiled the plaque and read some of his father’s poetry in the former haunt of the Gladiator star.
On Friday night at 69 O’Connell Street, the red carpet was rolled out for members of the Harris family, including Jared and granddaughter Ella, while members of the film community, sporting legends and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, who presented awards on the night, were all in attendance.
The festival also celebrated efforts of the European Capital of Culture 2020 bid, with the screening of the two Limerick National City of Culture bursary films on Saturday night.
The two films — Lost and Found and The Clockmaker’s Dream — were awarded €15,000 each and were both filmed in Limerick with a strong local cast and crew. The two films were screened at a packed house at 69 O’Connell Street on Saturday night, followed by a question and answers session with the directors Cashell Horgan and Liam O’Neill, conducted by Jared Harris.
Film Limerick project manager, Ronan Cassidy said that it was “an honour” for the two films to be linked to the 2020 bid and screened as part of the festival.
“It’s great because the public is going to get to see them. It’s a great forum to have it on, with the likes of Richard Harris who really got film going in Limerick.
“He was and still is a huge inspiration to me. It’s great that we can combine it and celebrate Richard and celebrate the 2020 bid, and celebrate the hard work that was done last year, as well,” he enthused.
Mr Moore also congratulated the festival’s new creative director Sylvia Moore, who added “a different level” to the creative aspect of the event, he said.
New developments included the introduction of the short film competition, the portrait competition and the one-minute monologue competition, in association with Limerick School of Acting.
At Friday night’s gala event, Richard Harris’ granddaughter Ella Harris told the Limerick Leader that the festival was “fabulous”.
“I have been coming here for the last three years, and it’s just amazing to watch it develop and grow and the way it gains more and more attention. You see everyone finding out about it, and it’s such an honour.”