VIDEO: Richard Harris festival draws stars to Limerick

MAD Men star Jared Harris is to jet into Limerick for barely 12 hours this Saturday to appear at a film festival honouring his late father.

The Richard Harris International Film Festival takes place in the city this weekend and the movie star, currently filming Poltergeist in Toronto, is to make a brief visit to attend, accompanied by new wife Allegra Riggio, an American TV star.

Up to 30 members of the late hell-raising actor’s family are to attend the event this weekend, including Richard’s son, film director Damian, and his grand-daughter Ella, who famously encouraged her grandfather to take the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films.

Jared, who is set to appear in Pompeii and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in 2014 and already has roles in Lincoln and Sherlock Holmes under his belt, will fly specially from the film set in Toronto to attend a screening of This Sporting Life, for which his father was nominated for an Oscar, in 69 O’Connell Street on Saturday afternoon.

“It is great. You won’t believe the lengths that we have had to go to, to get him here,” laughed Eleanor McSherry, creative director with the fledging festival, which has scored big in its first year.

“It is his scheduling with Poltergeist in Toronto that is extremely tight. He is bringing his new wife Allegra, which will be her first time here as Mrs Harris, so that is really brilliant.”

She added: “He was so keen to come, even if it is only for a couple of hours he is going to be here, which I think is a positive affirmation both for the festival and for the city.”

The festival will start with a gala screening of Irish film Life’s A Breeze on Friday, while there will be showings of Mister John, starring Aidan Gillen - who the organisers also hope will attend - plus in an Irish premiere, Evanna Lynch’s new film G.B.F, her first since Harry Potter.

The idea for the festival was borne out of a mutual meeting of minds in the Strand Hotel over a year ago and received funding from the Gathering and the Harris family have supported the notion of it from the outset.

“This is a real stamp of approval from the family that so many of them are attending. We have Harris family members coming in from all over Europe and specially for the festival which is really fantastic,” she explained.

A showcase of short films will take place on Saturday, as will a talk on Sunday, and a number of film industry executives are to attend.

“Industry people from all over Ireland are coming, which is extremely important for film makers in the city, that they see Limerick as a viable option for filming,” said Eleanor.

“It is really important to impress these people and hopefully they will be around for the showcase on Saturday to see the best of Limerick.”

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