Counter Culture / January 31, 2023

‘North Circular’ wins Grand Prix at France’s biggest documentary festival

Counter Culture / January 31, 2023

‘North Circular’ wins Grand Prix at France’s biggest documentary festival

Words: Eva O’Beirne

The Irish documentary musical featuring Gemma Dunleavy and John Francis Flynn has won a prestigious Grand Prix at France’s biggest documentary festival, FIPADOC.

Atmospherically shot in black and white, ‘North Circular’ is a musical odyssey travelling the length of Dublin’s North Circular Road, from Phoenix Park to Dublin Port, exploring the history, music and residents of this richly storied street.

Funded entirely by The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon under their ReelArt funding scheme, the film made its World Premiere at Dublin International Film Festival 2022, where it won the Special Mention Award in the Documentary competition. ‘North Circular’ has also won awards at Louth IFF and IndieCork as well as now FIPADOC.

The jury, made up of film director Chloé Perlemuter, the well-known classical pianist and Ravel Festival director Jean-François Heisser and the Latvian documentary producer Uldis Cekulis, chose “North Circular” from a programme of thirteen documentary features selected in competition for the Grand Prix for Music Documentary, which includes a 5,000 euro prize for the director.

The jury praised the film for the quality of its music, the strength of its storytelling and its aesthetic approach.

The film, which is written and directed by Luke McManus, edited by John Murphy (“An Cailín Ciúin”) and produced by McManus and Elaine Gallagher also features appearances from some of the leading artists of the Irish folk and trad scene including John Francis Flynn, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, Lisa O’Neill and Ian Lynch, as well as a special appearance by Gemma Dunleavy.

Luke McManus said on the award: “To have our French premiere and our first screening outside the English-speaking world at a festival as prestigious as FIPADOC was exciting, to be in competition for a Grand Prix was thrilling, but to actually win the Grand Prix was amazing.”

“Thank you to the jury and festival organisers for selecting the film and also to the creative team behind the film, the musicians and all the participants and the people of the North Circular Road for making this dream project a reality.”

The US Premiere is next for “North Circular”, with the film screening at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 16 and 17.

McManus will be in attendance as part of an Irish delegation including Alison Millar (“Lyra”), Colm Bairéad (“An Cailín Ciúin”) and the actors Kerry Condon, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”).

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