Irish Film Festival in Los Angeles

Lisa McLaughlin- Strassman spent a traditional Irish childhood in Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland, an area rich in Celtic history. Her education led her not only to receive a degree in Philosophy but also to become an accomplished designer.  However, her overriding passion for film induced her to accept the sage advice of a veteran filmmaker who suggested that, rather than go on to film school, she should “buy yourself a car and get yourself a trainee assistant director ticket.” Lisa duly bought herself an old Citroen CV and embarked upon a career as an Assistant Director, working on numerous films around Ireland and at the legendary Ardmore Studios outside of Dublin. Lisa’s career took a different path when she married her ventriloquist husband, David Strassman, and worked with him on his famous touring theatre show for several years. .  Lisa participated in the design and production of her husband’s shows.Moving to Los Angeles, Lisa became involved in The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and worked for the festival for three years. Lisa’s design skills, (besides designing for her husband, David Strassman, Lisa has also owned an art gallery in Donegal and designed
and renovated one of Ireland’s top Award-winning Restaurants) were applied to designing the festival’s special sponsorship events. Lisa continued to pursue a career in film production, funding and promotion and she has spearheaded numerous fund raising and charitable events in the Los Angeles area.Bijan Tehrani: It is exciting to have the very first Irish Film Festival in Los Angeles, please tell us a little bit about today’s Irish cinema.
Lisa McLaughlin-Strassman: It is very exciting to have the the very first Irish Film Festival in Los Angeles, especially with the excellent quality of films that are currently coming out of Ireland. Apart from the great films being made by our veteran filmmakers, Ireland is seeing an emergence of fresh and talented filmmakers.
BT: When does the festival start and how long will it run? How can film fans get to see the films at the festival?
LM: The festival starts on October 2nd and it will run until October 5th at the Clarity Theatre in Beverly Hills. Film Fans can check out for the complete program and tickets.

BT: Do you expect to see a lot of Irish-Americans among your audiences?
LM: Certainly, but we hope the program reaches out to a wider audience too.

BT: Are there any award winning films screened at the festival?
LM: Eileen Walsh won Best Actress at the Tribeca Film Festival 2008 for her role in  “Eden“.
KINGS won the Directors Finders Series, Ireland 2007.  At the 2008 Irish Film and Television Awards KINGS swept the awards, winning the Award for Best Actor in Supporting role in a Feature Film for Brendan Conroy, Best Editing for Dermot Diskin, Best Original Score for Pol Brennan, and Best Sound for Ken Galvin, Ronan Hill and Dominic Weaver.

BUA, the Sonya Gildea & Kirsten Sheridan’s short film that kicks off opening night has won the following awards:
Best Short Screenplay Columbine Award, Moondance International Film Festival, USA
Best Short Screenplay Bronze Award, International Screenwriter’s Awards USA
Official Selection, Seattle International Film Festival
Special Commendation for Courageous Directing, Belfast International Film Festival.

BT: Do you have Irish filmmakers and actors attending the festival? Will there be Q&A; sessions after screening of the films?
LM: Yes, we do. Q& A’s will follow all these films.
Attending filmmakers are:
Tom Collins, Director of KINGS.
Barry O neill-Director of Dick Dickman P.I.
Louis Lentin-Director of Grandpa…speak to me in Russian
Valerie Lapin Ganley-Director of Shalom Ireland
Gerard Hurley-Director of THE PRIDE
Irvin Kershner- THE LUCK OF GINGER COFFEY will be present for our tribute program in honor of Robert Shaw (JAWS) and Irvin Kershner (director; Empire Strikes Back)
We also anticipate Director of EDEN , Declan Recks and Eileen Walsh (actress)

BT: Does the Irish Film Festival create an opportunity for the American distributors to attend the screenings? Do you expect the festival to help the participating films in being picked up for theatrical releases in the US?
LM: Yes, we do have some distributors attending the festival. There are some great films waiting to get scooped up!


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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