‘Starlight’ of Richard Harris to cover Limerick festival

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Mary and Thomas Delohery, parents of the artist Thomas Delohery who created the Richard Harris projection (behind) with Eleanor McSherry and Rob Gill, directors of the Richard Harris International Film Festival. Picture: Gareth Williams
AN international film festival established in Richard Harris’ name will take place in his native Limerick next month.

AN international film festival established in Richard Harris’ name will take place in his native Limerick next month.

The festival was launched recently in King John’s Castle where a special image created by artist Thomas Delohery of the hell raising actor was projected onto the walls of the keep.

Limerick filmmaker, screenwriter and author Gerry Stembridge launched the festival and, while admitting he had never met Harris or seen his final role as Dumbledore in Harry Potter, he said that the Limerick actor’s “starlight shines on and I hope that this festival will prosper and continue and uncover more starlight like him”.

The idea for the festival was borne out of a mutual meeting of minds in the Strand Hotel over a year ago and subsequently received funding from the Gathering.

The festival, which will take place in 69 O’Connell Street from December 6-8, has received the blessing of Harris’ sons, Jamie, Damian and Jared - the latter now a star himself with roles in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mad Men - who hope to attend the three day festival, depending on their schedules.

As a Gathering project and at the Harris family’s instigation, the theme of the festival focuses on the Irish film-making Diaspora plying their trade abroad, as the actor did to spectacular effect over the course of his career.

“It seemed to me that what the city was really lacking was a way of honouring Richard Harris in the most appropriate manner, which obviously, is a film festival,” explained Rob Gill, the festival’s director along with Eleanor McSherry and Zeb Moore.

“With the Harris family we developed a concept. They suggested having a long lasting theme, to involve the Irish Diaspora, given that they are part of it themselves and their father was one of the first to really make it as an A-lister.

“We discussed it and thought it was a brilliant idea, because there isn’t a festival like that in Ireland that recognises the Diaspora film making talent.”

The festival will feature films such as Mister John, starring Aidan Gillen, Life’s a Breeze, starring Pat Shortt and Fionnula Flanagan and, in an Irish premiere, Evanna Lynch’s new film G.B.F, her first since Harry Potter.

“We have a broad range of films, but they are actors who are making their career abroad,” explained Rob. “This year they just happen to be first generation Irish, but as the festival develops, it is likely that it will be people of Irish heritage.”

Harris’ own This Sporting Life, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, will also be screened.

“Obviously it is our job to make sure that the films reflect his stature. This year, the programme is definitely modest, but it is scalable and will grow over time,” said Rob.

Gerry Stembridge said what would make the festival work was “if they really think about what it is that Richard Harris represents in the movie world”.

“I think any film festival has to start small, they have to start somewhere, but if they have integrity, if there is something really unique about it, something special about it, then it has the possibility of becoming something big,” he added.

For full details see the festival website.