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Irish-language film Kneecap premieres at Sundance

The Irish-language film Kneecap, “the origin story of the riotous and ground-breaking” Belfast rap trio of the same name, had its world premiere at the iconic Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Thursday and garnered an enthusiastic reaction among attendees.

The Utah audience gave the film an enthusiastic round of applause as the credits rolled, and there was raucous laughter from the sold-out audience throughout the premiere screening.

Móglaí Bap, DJ Próvaí and Mo Chara of Kneecap

The film marks the first time an Irish language film has screened at the festival. It is also the first non-US film to ever be selected for the NEXT section of the festival. The festival describes selections for this section as “pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to story-telling”.

In attendance at the premiere were writer/director Rich Peppiatt and stars of the film, Kneecap’s Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí, Simone Kirby, Jessica Reynolds and Fionnuala Flaherty. The film also stars Michael Fassbender.

Kneecap is set in West Belfast in 2019 and tells the story of how the band formed and went on to “change the sound of Irish music forever”.

Simone Kirby plays Móglaí Bap’s mum in Kneecap

“When I first set out to make a film in a language I didn’t speak, set in a place I’m not from, little could I have imagined four years later we would be introducing Kneecap the movie to the world at the Mecca of Independent cinema,” said writer-director Peppiatt.

Founded in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival is the world’s most prestigious festival dedicated to independent films.

Among the Irish films to screen at Sundance in the past are: John Crowley’s Brooklyn, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, John Carney’s Sing Street and Lee Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground.

Fionnuala Flaherty joined the cast at the premiere in Sundance in Utah

Kneecap includes Belfast’s Fine Point Films, Dublin’s Wildcard Distribution, and London’s Mother Tongues Films among its producers.

Among the organisations that funded the film are: Northern Ireland Screen, the Irish Language Broadcast Fund, Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, Coimisiún na Meán, and TG4.

Kneecap will be released in Irish cinemas in 2024, with Kneecap’s debut album also due next year.

The Sundance Film Festival runs from 18-28 January 2024 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah.

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