Brown Bag Films at the Craic Fest are fresh and funny

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How it’s New York: It happens here in NYC!
How it’s Irish: The Craic  Festival features Irish films and Irish music.

At the 17th annual Craic Fest Closing night gala last night, the small group still intent on braving the last days of Winter weather trooped to Tribeca Cinemas.

Darragh O’Connell and Nicky Phelan from Brown Bag Films in Dublin were introduced by the festivals organizer, Terence Mulligan, to kick the evening off – albeit, 20 minutes after the advertised start time. Perhaps they were generously accounting for any weather beaten latecomers, or maybe they were trying to make the Irish in the crowd feel at home, and emulate an Irish start time, which is often more of an approximation than anything.

Granny o'grimm

Granny o’grimm

Anyway, the wonderful evening of smart, funny, skillfully created animated shorts that followed were worth the wait. Twice Oscar-nominated, Brown Bag Films, started out small in Dublin’s Temple Bar in the 90’s and has since grown to a impressive creative organization with an offshoot in LA, O’Connell told us. And it’s no wonder. “Granny O’Grimm” and “Give Up Yer Auld Sins” (the Oscar-nominated instead shorts), put fresh, funny (and often dark) spins on Biblical/mythical stories (“Give Up Yer Auld Sins”) and fairy tales (“Granny O’Grimm”), and are hilarious. (See YouTube link below).

The Craic Fest, which I have been attending for years, and was one of my favorite festivals when I first moved to New York – good Irish movies (“From Tee to Green” and “Road” opened the festival this year) combined with a free Stella Artois bar included in the ticket price – a bit more party than arty. But the organizational side of things is sadly lacking. The website doesn’t have the location of the events listed, the movie titles are listed haphazardly, but probably most damning, the site is hard to find when you do a search. A friend in the Irish banking world here, who isn’t privy to word of mouth on upcoming arts happenings but very interested in the sport themed movies showing, couldn’t find the site in a web search.**

When we finally got in after some mixup at the door, we wandered around looking for the entrance to the theatre and while the organizers and others were in the area, we were pretty much left to our own devices to open a few doors until we eventually found the way in. There certainly was no céad míle fáilte, nor even a fáilte. Maybe it was an off night, maybe the previous evening, which was reportedly attended by Liam Neeson, was managed with aplomb.

Both Irish and New York governing bodies put money into this event, as does private industry – if I were them, I would throw a few more shekels in and up the organizational side of things.

*Editor’s note: We respect what The Craic is trying to do, which is why we’ve promoted it for years (without receiving anything, even a mention, in return). However, the aggressive response to being notified of the mix-up was so inappropriate we will not be able to report on the festival anymore.

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Copyright 2015 New York Irish Arts