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Mike Houlihan Scores A Second Year Run For Irish 'Movie Hooley' Festival

By Mark Konkol | February 23, 2016 11:22am
 South Side raconteur Mike Houlihan’s Irish-centric film festival — the
South Side raconteur Mike Houlihan’s Irish-centric film festival — the "Irish-American Movie Hooley" — has scored a second year at The Gene Siskel Film Center.
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Mike Houlihan

THE LOOP — South Side raconteur Mike Houlihan’s Irish-centric film festival has scored a second year run at The Gene Siskel Film Center.

“Evidently I didn’t screw it up last year,” Houlihan said. “I was sweating bullets for a minute but it all worked out. So, we’re going to give it another go”

Last year, Houlihan put together the inaugural “Irish-American Movie Hooley” in hopes of shining a spotlight on new films written, directed, produced or starring an Irish-American — or generally tackle a topic in the Irish-American tradition of pride, bravado and legendary storytelling.

He was inspired by his own failure to get his own documentary, “Our Irish Cousins,” into a big time film fest despite getting a three-star review from the late Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert.

“Basically, I was pissed off,” Houlihan explained.

As things turned out, convincing folks at the Gene Siskel Film Center to host his three-film fest was the easy part.  

“When we put out calls for entries I was hoping for hundreds of submissions,” Houlihan said.
“Want to know how many we got? Three. And two of them were dog s---.”

That sent Houlihan — half of the "The Skinny and Houli Show" on WCEV-AM (1450) and a columnist for the Irish American News — scrambling to find two more films, get corporate sponsors and round up an audience.

Against heavy odds, he pulled it off.

“The audiences ate it up,” Houlihan said

If the stressful rookie experience organizing a film festival taught Houlihan anything he says it’s this: “Start earlier. Bang the drum harder.”

So this year he’s calling for submissions eight months before the three-day fest slated for Sept. 30.

“We’re hoping to get more than three submissions this year. I know they’re out there,” Houlihan said. “I also learned that I have to go out and find the films myself because sometimes you look under a rock and find a gem.”

Houlihan has already scored one film for the “Hooley,” which, in case you were wondering, is Irish slang for “party.”

It’s “Beneath Disheveled Stars, the tale of a New York tenement buildings maintenance man who goes to Ireland to carry out his mother’s last dying wish. It's written, directed and stars Brooklyn filmmaker Kevin Baggot.

For more information about the festival and how to submit a film for consideration, click here.


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