A fantastical weekend for FRAMED!

What an incredible weekend for FRAMED, picking up the ‘Best Short Horror Film’ award from Underground Cinema Film Festival! Very honoured to be in the company of some fantastic filmmakers, and thanks to Dave Byrne and the Underground team for their continuing support of independent filmmakers, in Ireland and abroad.

 

 

AND THIS from Devil’s Night Gallery Film + Art Event!

 

Devil’s Night Gallery is an independent film and art show which takes its name from its two inspirations. The first is “Night Gallery”, a classic, horror anthology television series, hosted by Rod Serling, from the ‘70s. The second is the aggressively independent spirit of the city of Detroit, represented by the ominous “Devil’s Night”. Like the namesake tv series, Devil’s Night Gallery features screenings of short films preceded by an introduction and the reveal of an original piece of art inspired by the film. Film submissions were received from around the world and were narrowed down to 10, from Michigan and beyond, which best represented the experience of the “Night Gallery”. A handful of amazing local artists were selected to create original works of art inspired by those same films. Just look at this incredible work – based on FRAMED – from artist Joyce Swope. Fantastical!!!

Chiari Days, and swearing like a Super Trooper!

Since my diagnosis in March of this year, I have been doing my best to learn about – and to learn to live with – Chiari Malformation. You can read my first post HERE

Most of the time, I look at the positives. Yes, I have this thing – but I could have some other thing that is worse – things can always be worse. However, there are days when my body feels so fatigued and too damn sore to do much of anything. I have begun to name these ‘Chiari Days’, which really translates to ‘Fuck It’ days.

On the one hand, I know what I am dealing with, and that it is common sense to allow myself to rest on those days that are tougher than others. If I don’t, I will suffer the consequences of being, and feeling sore and absolutely, fucking useless.

On the other hand, I find myself feeling guilty for my ‘Fuck It’ days. As with all ‘hidden’ disorders, people can’t see what’s really going on. I don’t carry a sign that says ‘Neurological Disorder’. Even saying those words makes me fucking squirm.

Nope, the implications don’t sit easy with me.

Chiari Malformation causes painful physical symptoms; where the cerebellar tonsillar ectopia moves below the level of the foreman magnum. Now there’s some fine medical terminology to get your head around! Speaking for myself here, but I am finding that it can also mess with emotional and mental health, especially when I allow myself to dwell on what might happen next.

For my sins, I am a deep thinker. What writer isn’t?

I can only report on what it’s like to live in this skin, with this useless disorder, and I’ll get used to Chiari Days, eventually. I won’t stop saying yes to whatever opportunities and challenges rock up to greet me either – that would kill me altogether, but I’ll also have to stay honest with myself and everyone around me, and learn to be at ease with more ‘Fuck It’ days.

Road-tripping Discoveries: Finding Flannery

This past September, while visiting Savannah, Georgia for a couple of days, I trudged my loved ones through the oppressive heat of that hauntingly beautiful city on a quest to find Flannery O’Connor’s house on East Charlton Street, Layfayette Square.

Birthplace of a Genius.

The house is now a museum that honours her memory and work, and we were treated to a wonderful and very informative tour from a fabulous lady, Cody. You can find out more about the house HERE.

Mary (Flannery) O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925, the only child of Edward F. O’Connor and Regina Cline (Who lived until the ripe old age of 99, passing away in 1995). Edward was diagnosed with lupus in 1939, and died on February 1, 1941 when Flannery was 15.

A very poignant moment to learn that Flannery’s extremely ill father spent many a day resting here.

Flannery would entertain her little friends in the family bathroom, sitting in the bath to read stories – until her friend’s parents realised that she was scaring these little girls with ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’, and they weren’t allowed to play with her anymore!

Flannery was also diagnosed with lupus, in 1951, at the age of 26, and although she was only expected to live for five more years, she survived for thirteen more. While battling her illness, she completed more than two dozen short stories and two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear it Away. She died in August, 1964, her third novel unfinished.

Queen of the ‘Southern Gothic’. An incredible woman.

I couldn’t resist leaving a copy of LADY BETH in the FREE LITTLE LIBRARY outside Flannery’s house. The feckin’ cheek o’me!!!

Michael Mullan Cancer Fund: Writing Competition Results

For the second year running, it was a honour to judge the Flash Fiction competition on behalf of the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund Writing Awards. I am always keen to congratulate all of the shortlisted writers. It is some achievement to get that far in any writing competition. Indeed, respect to anyone who finishes a piece of writing and submits it to a contest. It’s proof to yourself that you are a real writer!

Flash fiction is a rather particular art form – the telling of a complete story while being very economical with words. As a reader, I need to connect with the heart of the narrative. I need to care about the characters, and while there doesn’t have to be a happy ending, there does need to be a satisfying one – and for this particular competition, all in 500 words or less. Not an easy task for any writer. I read six shortlisted stories, and I liked all of them — each for different reasons. However, I could only pick one winner and one runner-up.

In second place, I chose a story that concerns the heartfelt ending of a relationship, told from the point of view of the rejected character – and there is a hint in the title: A ROUGH BREAKUP, written by Johnathon McLaughlin. The winning story is a concise and descriptive window into a mature relationship – a glimpse of the gentle nature of love in action, the theme evoked wonderfully in its title: MINDING, written by Anna Harrison.

Writer, Martin Malone, judged the Short Story Awards, but as Martin was unable to attend, I had the pleasure of presenting the winners. Placed second is a story that deals with a secret that finally erupts, leaving the reader to ponder its ramifications on the boy, his mother, his sister…and the victims his father has left in his wake: ON THE MOVE, written by Dee Scallon. The winner of the Short Story Award 2019 is a story of murder, intrigue and suspense, about a family who unwittingly walk into a perilous situation: SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, written by Helen O’Leary.

Writer, John MacKenna, judged the Poetry Awards, and as John was unable to attend, I also had the pleasure of presenting the winner – in this case with First and Second Prize – to Paul O’Brien for his poems, A HAND IN ANSENTIA and THROUGH A LENS IN OMEY.

All entries were judged anonymously.

It was a great night that celebrated the very deserving writers, a lovely audience, and wonderful hosts from Newbridge Library and Kildare Readers Festival. Congratulations again to all the winners and shortlisted writers! You can find out more about the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund HERE

It was indeed a Fright-Ful Friday at Leap Castle

It was a joy to curate the Short Horror Film Programme for Fright-Ful Friday at Leap Castle, an annual event run by the Offline Film Festival in County Offaly. This sold out evening of all things spooky and fantastical took our large group, by bus, from outside the very hospitable Ormond Clubhouse, Emmet Square, Birr, and onward to Giltrap’s Pub in Kinnitty for prosecco and finger food. Then back on the bus for a moonlit journey to Leap Castle for the screening of the short horror films — well received by a lovely, enthusiastic audience.

Horror has very different meanings for fans of the genre – from gothic to grotesque, psychological, visceral and even humour. For this programme, I attempted to include a variety of those emotive experiences, and am also proud to say that all the films are from talented men and women currently working in Irish film. There were 7 films in total.

The Wake

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Written and directed by Rik Gordon. Rik has also written and directed Pigman and most recently, Pure Gold, doing well on the festival circuit.

Chimes

Written and directed by Jannine Benkhardt. Jannine was also assistant director on The Switch, a short film currently screening at festivals.

Under Growth

Under Growth Poster

Written and directed by Evin O’Neill. Evin has also written and directed the short films, Digs for Pennies, Spooks, A Dry Christmas and Invisible.

Inexorable

Inexorable Poster

Written and directed by Zoe Kavanagh. Zoe also directs music videos and is the writer and director of the short film Tides, and the award-winning feature, Demon Hunter.

Mother Father Monster

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Written and directed by Sean Breathnach, and funded by Offaly County Council Arts Office and filmed in Charleville Castle. Sean has directed several short films and his debut feature film “Beyond the Woods” was released to critical acclaim.

The Trap

Paul Reid in The Trap (2018)

Written and directed by Helen Flanagan. Helen has directed short films including Away with the Fairies and The Drive. She also writes performance pieces and facilitate creative workshops with, as she says herself, a suspiciously witchy vibe.

How Olin Lost His Eye

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Written and directed by Damian McCarthy. Damian has directed several short horror films and is currently in post on his first feature, also a horror.

To round off the evening, the owner of this haunting and magical place, Sean Ryan, regaled us with tunes and stories of the spirits that roam the castle corridors. Then, back on the bus to The Chestnut Bar for great chats, and even a complimentary drink! What more could you possible ask for. Frightful and Delightful!

 

 

The Librarian’s Cellar Book of the Week: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

The core of ‘Leonard and Hungry Paul’ concerns the friendship between two men, both single, one recently bereaved, the other living with his parents as his sister’s upcoming wedding plans unfold. The supporting characters speak from the pages, they are so well developed, and the drama is so quiet and familiar, were it not for the beautiful writing from Hession, this novel might otherwise seem a little mundane in it’s depiction of everyday life. However, this novel is themed on human connection and kindness and is a gorgeous read. Clever, gentle prose concerning clever, gentle characters. No spoilers, but well into the second half, there is a wonderful conversation between Hungry Paul and his sister Grace that should be compulsive reading! It takes place in the bathroom as HP is cleaning his teeth, and his words spill out so gently, and with such wisdom and clarity, it took my breath away. Such a refreshing, unique novel. I loved it!

FRAMED: Screening Updates

October / November is gearing up to be a wonderfully spooky time for my short film FRAMED, still making it’s way on the film festival journey. So far, FRAMED has been officially selected to screen at 22 festivals in Ireland, UK, USA, Japan and Canada!

Here are the latest dates, with more news to follow! As always, I am thrilled for our excellent cast and crew!

Halloweenapalooza: Iowa. USA October 11th

 

Ottawa Spookshow and Fantastic Film Festival: Ottawa, Canada. October 20th

 

Halloween Horror Picture Show: Tampa, Florida October 27th

 

Devil’s Night Gallery Film and Art Event: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. USA November 1st

 

FRAMED is also nominated for Best Short Horror Film at The Underground Cinema Awards: Dublin. November 2nd