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IFTN Festive Q&A with director Luke McManus
05 Dec 2023 : Luke Shanahan
North Circular
In the run up to Christmas, we have invited some of Ireland’s leading Film & TV talents to take part in IFTN’s festive Q&A.

Luke McManus is a documentary filmmaker based in Dublin. He has made films for Netflix, BBC, NBC, Channel 4, ITV, RTÉ, TV3, NDR, Virgin Media Television, Al-Jazeera and TG4.

Last year, his feature documentary debut North Circular had its International Premiere at Sheffield Doc Fest. It has received eight festival awards since, including the Denton Thin Line Festival Best Sound on Screen award, the American Cinematographer Award at Salem Film Festival 2023 and the FIPADOC 2023 Grand Prix for Best Musical Documentary. It also received an IFTA nomination earlier this year in the George Morrison Feature Documentary category.

IFTN caught up with McManus ahead of the festive season.

IFTN: What was your highlight of 2023?

LUKE: “Well it has been a year with a lot of highlights. I completed my first TV doc series as a director/DOP, Stories From The Streets. The North Circular theatrical and festival experience was a thrill, particularly winning the Grand Prix at FIPADOC and the American Cinematographer Prize at Salem Film Festival, getting into Oscar contention with a week of screenings in Manhattan's Firehouse Cinema. But the biggest highlight was definitely the birth of my daughter Stephanie in September.”

IFTN: What are you most looking forward to working on in the New Year?

LUKE: “I've got a few projects in pre-production/advanced development but I don't want to jinx them by talking about them in public :) It also looks like North Circular will keep on rolling with some screenings around the world. I think the UK, Switzerland and Argentina are on the cards.”

IFTN: What was your favourite film of 2023?

LUKE: “Saw some great docs on the festival circuit. The Grab was powerful and deeply concerning journalism told with great spirit and visual flair, I really liked the quirky architectural exploration of Soviet Bus Stops. Subject asked some hard questions about my profession. All The Beauty And The Bloodshed stayed with me for weeks afterwards, and the quiet simplicity and elegance of Whitman Brook was a salve for a jangled soul. Pray For Our Sinners had moments of power and humour and was complex and nuanced in a world full of glib oversimplification. Also loved Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy's The Future Tense, which spoke to many of my obsessions.”

“When it comes to rollicking big budget fun, Napoleon was a treat. But the most memorable film of the year for me was Giula Amati's stunning documentary portrait of a young boy on a desolate Greek island who is faced with a heartbreaking choice, Kristos The Last Child.”

IFTN: What Irish talent have you been impressed with over the past 12 months?

LUKE: “Hard to see past Paul Mescal and Barry Keoghan taking over the world of narrative cinema. Gagging to see the inimitable Paul Duane's folk-horror opus starring another Irish force of cinema nature, Olwen Fouere. In other fields: Aches, Spicebag, Bobby Fingers, Blindboy, Lankum, Oxn, Clare Keegan, John Francis Flynn, Mark O'Connell, Paul Murray, Evan Ferguson and Jonathan Afolabi.”

IFTN: What International talent would you most like to work with?

LUKE: “Andrea Riseborough, Chris Cooper, Cillian Murphy, Emma Stone, Robbie Ryan, Max Richter, Monica Dolan, Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Clint Mansell.”

IFTN: What two film/television personalities would you most like to have dinner with and why?

LUKE: “Nigella Lawson would probably get the dinner sorted and bring a few bottles. Groucho Marx would keep the glasses topped up and have us laughing.”

IFTN: What’s your favourite movie to watch on Christmas day?

LUKE: “Well it would be madness not to point out that North Circular will be available on special limited edition DVD with bundled 4K streaming link and 24 page booklet at a very reasonable 20 euro plus shipping from www.northcircular.ie. You might even call it the ideal Christmas gift! It will also be on sale in Tower, Golden Discs, the IFI shop and numerous indie retailers throughout Dublin.”

“When I'm flicking through the channels full of turkey and ham, Where Eagles Dare often catches the eye. It is very snowy and seasonal despite its very unfestive bodycount. Always a fun watch. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (OG version of course) is hard to beat. I'm going to Elf with 30 nine years old this Saturday #prayforluke.”





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