Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: Capital Irish Film Festival at AFI Silver

Solas Nua, the district's contemporary Irish culture group, presents their 17th annual film festival -- this year with a serious Oscar contender.

Homebird: James and Peter
Homebird: James Doran and Peter Young

With critic’s darling The Banshees of Inisherin already capturing a fair share of the major awards and with possibly a decent shot at some Oscar love, the focus on Irish cinema is hotter than ever.

Of course, Solas Nua, Washington, D.C.’s hub for contemporary Irish culture and performing arts, has been training its eye on films emerging from the Emerald Isle for quite some time now.

This is the 17th year they’ve curated the Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF), and this year’s four-day festival, held March 2 to 5 at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, is arguably the largest in the group’s history.

The festival opens with a massive get — The Quiet Girl (An CailĂ­n CiĂşin), which is up for an Oscar in the Best International Film category.

Director Colm BairĂ©ad’s coming-of-age drama, is set in rural Ireland in the early ’80s, as a young girl struggles with a dysfunctional, impoverished homelife and finds new life when sent to live with relatives for the summer. BairĂ©ad will participate in a Q&A following the screening. (3/2, 7 p.m.)

Friday’s offerings include Ghosts of Baggotonia at noon, The Ghost of Richard Harris at 2:30 p.m., Ballywater at 4:45, Young Plato at 8 p.m. and Lola at 10 p.m.

Of special note is the short Homebird, a deeply felt, beautifully crafted work, which plays before Young Plato. The winner of this year’s Norman Houston Short Film Award, the 12-minute film, directed by queer, trans filmmaker Caleb J. Roberts, explores the relationship between an emotionally distant father and his estranged gay son.

The program on Saturday, March 4, includes a slate of short films at 11 a.m., Vicky at 11:10 a.m., The Cry of Granuaile at 12:45 p.m., Aisha at 3:05 p.m., North Circular at 5:15 p.m.,

RĂłise and Frank at 7:15 p.m. and Nothing Compares at 9:15 p.m.

Sunday kicks off with a second program of shorts at 11 a.m., How to Tell a Secret at noon, a Family Shorts Program at 12:45, Pray for Our Sinners at 2:05 p.m., The Sparrow at 4:30 p.m. and festival closer Lakelands at 7 p.m.

Solas Nua: Capital Irish Film Festival: How to Tell a Secret Still
How to Tell a Secret

Of particular note is How to Tell a Secret, co-directed by Anna Rodgers (who will participate in a Q&A following the screening) and Shaun Dunne. A hybrid documentary that uses “genre-blurring storytelling techniques,” How to Tell a Secret takes a tough, honest look at the complexity of living with HIV in modern-day Ireland.

Tickets to individual programs are $13 and include post-discussion Q&As when applicable. AFI 2-star members pay $11 on individual tickets and children are $8. A full festival pass, however, is an incredible bargain at $130, providing access to all the screenings and events. For more details on all the films or to buy tickets, visit

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