Three Questions For … Judith Blackburn

Founder and director of the Chicago Irish Film Festival

Q. Did you start the fest, at least in part, to show Chicago there’s more to Ireland than green beer?
A.
Do I think there’s more to Ireland than kids getting drunk and taking their clothes off? Yes. But [Beverly] is home to the South Side Irish Parade. You have to find a hook that works in the community.

Q. How do you choose your films?
A.
The Irish are absolutely brilliant at shorts. In the last four years or so, an Irish short has been nominated every year for an Academy Award, and two years ago, they won [Six Shooter, best live action short film]. I make an annual trip to Dublin and the Cork Film Festival to see about 100 shorts. Our final evening is always a shorts program.

Q. What’s a top pick for this year?
A.
There’s a tiny filmmaker who made a tiny film, Extracting Money, with his daughter. The daughter wants this high-end doll but doesn’t have the money, so she starts pulling out her teeth [to leave them for the tooth fairy]. She’s sitting on her bed with a pair of pliers, and it’s 90 seconds of nail-biting film.

The ninth annual Chicago Irish Film Festival runs through March 5th.

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