THE first ever Irish language film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival has won an Audience Award at the renowned independent film-oriented event in Utah.
Kneecap, written and directed by Rich Peppiatt and starring the titular Belfast-based Irish language rap trio, is the first Irish feature to win at the festival since John Carney’s Once in 2007.
The film most recently made headlines after it was acquired for US and international distribution by movie giant Sony Pictures Classics in the wake of its Sundance premiere.
Speaking about the win, Peppiatt said: “There’s a saying in Irish – Ní mhaireann solas na maidine don lá – which means no morning sun lasts all day.
“Well, the amazing week we’ve had here at Sundance since premiering our movie has certainly tested that wisdom – and we’re basking in every moment”.
Kneecap added: “We are delighted to have such an award bestowed upon the first Irish language film at Sundance. Hopefully, it will give people in Ireland the confidence to pursue the arts through their native tongue.
“Special thanks to our PR team at the DUP.”
Produced by Belfast’s Fine Point Films and Mother Tongues Films, Kneecap is based on the controversial Belfast rappers’ origin story. It stars the band - Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí - as themselves alongside Irish acting star Michael Fassbender and Peaky Blinders’ Simone Kirby.
“Is éacht é seo gur féidir le Gaeil an Tuaiscirt a bheith an-bhródúil as,” said Trevor Birney of Fine Point Films
“Ba mhaith linn ár mbuíochas a ghabháil le Rich, le Kneecap agus leis na Gaeilgeoirí ar fad a chuidigh linn an scannán seo a chruthú.”
Not a bad way to end the most wonderful week. Thanks to the amazing @KNEECAPCEOL and @richpeppiatt and all our amazing financiers and crew. Who’s got the Buckfast?! GRMA. @NIScreen @ScreenIreland @BFI @TG4TV @WildCardDistrib @MotherTongues @sundancefest https://t.co/R0XC1iaeYF— Trevor Birney (@trevorbirney) January 26, 2024
“This is a moment that the Irish language community in the north can take great pride in. We want to thank Rich, Kneecap and all the Irish speakers that helped create the film.
“From the moment Rich Peppiatt began working on Kneecap, we knew it was going to be different. We had ambition for the film from the outset, but never allowed ourselves to dream that it would screen at the world’s greatest film festival. Now to win an award at Sundance is simply surreal.
“This award represents a shift change in the way people view the independent film production sector in Belfast and how our reputation on a global stage has blossomed with this breakout moment.
“Irish films and our talent are having a moment and Belfast is playing its part. It’s a time to break out the Buckfast!”
To publicise the Sundance premiere on January 18, the band arrived at the screening in a mock PSNI Land Rover.
The film will be released in Ireland later this year.