Move over St. Patrick, it’s time for St. Brigid to shine!

Irish women filmmakers in spotlight for St. Brigid’s Day 2020

Irish Film London’s 10th Anniversary year kicks off with the St Brigid’s Day Film Festival at Regent St Cinema on Sunday 2nd February

The St Brigid’s Film Festival returns for 2020, showcasing some of the finest work of Irish women filmmakers, from tender, compelling personal animated stories to moving international drama.

Female directors, producers and writers are responsible for some of the country’s finest film and TV offerings, and have helped chart, cinematically, the cultural and societal changes that have created the modern, progressive Ireland of today.

The festival’s main feature, screening Sunday 2nd February at 7.30pm, is the London Premiere of A Girl from Mogadishu, a powerful drama based on the true story of global FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) activist and proud Irish citizen Ifrah Ahmed.

The film stars Aja Naomi King (How to Get Away with Murder, Birth of a Nation) as Ifrah, who, in 2006 was trafficked to Ireland while trying to flee war-torn Somalia. During her application process for refugee status, a medical examination revealed her to be a victim of childhood FGM. This practice was relatively unknown to Irish doctors at the time, and so Ifrah found herself having to explain.

The film’s writer and director Mary McGuckian will attend a post-screening Q&A, joined by Bonnie Greer, and hosted by acclaimed activist, filmmaker and writer Dr. Leyla Hussein OBE.

Mary said: “It’s an absolute honour that Irish Film London has chosen to celebrate St Brigid’s Day with a screening honouring a modern day Irish heroine, Ifrah Ahmed, as she continues to follow fearlessly in the footsteps of our patron saint of women.

“Divine knitting is clearly contributing to a confluence of timing as the London premiere kicks off just days before the UN International Day for the elimination of FGM when the film will be screened at numerous events around the world with the launch of its global impact campaign, facilitating screenings of the film as a call for action.”

A Girl from Mogadishu also stars Martha Cango Antonio (Black) and Barkhad Abdi (Blade Runner, Captain Phillips), Somali icon, Maryam Mursal, as well as Irish actors Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Stanley Townsend (Finding Joy) and Irish singer Sallay Matu Garnett (AKA Loah).

The St Brigid’s Film Festival line up also includes the She Made This Programme, a showcase of short films made by Irish women. It is screened Sunday 2nd February at 5pm, and includes dramas, documentaries and animated shorts. Highlights include Who’s the Daddy? directed by Mary-Sue Masson and produced by Clancie Brennan, Carol Freeman’s The Bird and the Whale, and The Girl at the End of the Garden, directed by Bonnie Dempsey. Other films will be announced in the coming week.

Kelly O’Connor, Founder and Programming Director at Irish Film London said:

“The Brigid’s Day Festival provides an opportunity to elevate incredible women and give them a proper platform. Last year our main feature was about boxer Katie Taylor, this year its Ifrah Ahmed. Two women changing Ireland in ways we could not have imagined, even one generation ago. And it’s brilliant for us to be able to share their stories, and those of so many other Irish women, with our audience in London through the medium of film”

In the week leading up to St. Brigid’s Day, cinemas across London will get a taste of Irish film with shorts from the She Made This Programme, shown at Mother and Baby screenings. These sessions are designed for mothers with young children, who are made to feel comfortable to breastfeed or to soothe their babies as necessary.

The film festival is part of the Irish Embassy in London’s annual St. Brigid’s Day Festival, which also includes events taking place in London locations including the Irish Embassy, the London Irish Centre and the Irish Cultural Centre.

St Brigid is a Patron Saint of Ireland, alongside the better-known St Patrick, and her saints day is now celebrated by women and communities across the globe.

Tickets are available from regentstreetcinema.com/programme

More info is available from irishfilmlondon.com

To support the campaign to end FGM, follow the hashtag #EndFGM on Twitter for more information and useful links.