Film Fest 919 jump started its fifth year on Wednesday night with the presentation of the New Horizon Award to Devotion director JD Dillard at the Silverspot Theater in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Devotion, the recent recipient of the Audience Award at the Middleburg Film Festival, stars Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell as naval fighter pilots during the Korean War. Dillard discussed the film with festival attendees following the screening.
Last night, the festival hosted the North Carolina premiere of Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. On the surface, Banshees appears to be a simple, very funny story about friendship. However, as with most allegorical films, McDonagh’s brilliant screenplay offers multiple interpretations for the ultimately bizarre events that transpire over the course of the film. Led by a never-better Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the film goes to some very dark places as it explores the ways people can be pushed to inhumane acts.
The entire cast, including Kerry Condon as Farrell’s sister, bring their very best to the film, but my personal favorite performance remains Barry Keoghan as a sweet, funny, but ultimately disturbed teenager. In my opinion, McDonagh’s film will be a major awards contender throughout the season, and Farrell should finally receive a richly deserved Oscar nomination for his work. The packed house seemed to really respond to the comic beats of the film but needed a moment to soak in the ending as the lights came up. The Banshees of Inisherin will emerge as one of the year’s very best films, one that will stick with you for a long, long time thanks to McDonagh’s sparkling, often very funny, dialogue and the memorable performances. Plus, you will need to see it on the big screen for the gorgeous cinematography which brilliantly captures the remote island of Inisherin.
Founded by Randi Emerman and Carol Marshall, Chapel Hill’s Film Fest 919 celebrates the best in major and independent cinema. It often highlights films within the year-end awards conversation across a broad spectrum of documentary, international, and other narrative films. Last year, audiences awarded the Oscar-winning film King Richard and C’Mon C’Mon as the best of the festival. Previous winners have included Best Picture winners Nomadland and Parasite.
The festival continues today with hotly anticipated screenings of Close, Empire of Light, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Corsage, and The Inspection. The festival closes Sunday night with two screenings of Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
For more information and tickets, check out the Film Fest 919 website.