Now in its sixth year, the Chicago Irish Film Festival continues Friday through Sunday, March 11 through 13, at Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. All films are projected from DVD and, unless otherwise noted, tickets are $10, $8 for members of the Beverly Arts Center. For more information call 773-445-3838; a full festival schedule is available online at www.beverlyartcenter.org.
Dead Meat (2004, 80 min.) gives the zombie genre a topical twist: the pastoral calm of rural Ireland is shattered when the cattle turn carnivorous and infect humans with what might be called very mad cow disease. Writer-director Conor McMahon has a penchant for dislodging eyeballs (one memorable variation involves a vacuum cleaner) but hasn’t mastered tricky tonal shifts from humor to horror. As a result, this comes off as unintentionally ridiculous rather than deliberately parodic when the cows attack. (Fri 3/11, 7:30 PM)
The surprise gem of the festival is Peter Lennon’s opinionated and unapologetic documentary Rocky Road to Dublin (1968, 68 min.), which examines an Ireland still struggling for self-definition decades after independence. Working with the great French New Wave cinematographer Raoul Coutard, Lennon lays out a clear case against the Catholic Church’s role in Irish society; particularly memorable is a sequence contrasting the social life of a pub and a church-run social club. Also on the program is Paul Duane’s short documentary The Making of Rocky Road (2004, 30 min.), which provides some helpful background on the film’s history. Tickets for the film and a reception are $20, $15 for BAC members. Lennon will attend the screening. (Sat 3/12, 7:30 PM)