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Reel shock Hammer blow for film-makers as cinemas close due to Covid-19 restrictions

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Charlene Lydon made a call for support

Charlene Lydon made a call for support

Charlene Lydon made a call for support

The most anticipated Irish movies of the year have been dealt a hammer blow by Covid-19 restrictions which saw cinemas around the country close their doors for the second time this week.

The timing couldn't have been worse for Irish moviemakers, with several high-profile films due for release here in the next few weeks.

They include an eagerly anticipated new documentary about Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott called Songs For While I'm Away. The film from acclaimed documentary maker Emer Reynolds features previously unseen footage and performances from the much-loved rocker and tells his story through his own music.

It was due for release on October 23 but is now delayed indefinitely due to national cinema closures for the next three weeks.

Other releases affected include Herself, an award-winning drama, set in Dublin, about a young mother who goes about building her own house to escape her manipulative and violent husband.

Other Irish films which have stalled release include Pixie, an Irish-set crime thriller, and Henry Glassie: Field Work, a documentary from Song of Granite filmmaker Pat Collins.

Rialto, an acclaimed Dublin drama starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, had just four days in cinemas before measures came into place. It has yet to be released in its home city, where cinemas closed under level three restrictions over two weeks ago.

Cinema owners and distributors say they have been dealt a blow by the latest closures.

Upset

Charlene Lydon, programmer at Dublin's Lighthouse Cinema, says closing again has been particularly hard - and that government supports for Irish cinemas and distributors are badly needed.

"We were all really quite upset about it to be honest. Since we had reopened, we had worked really hard to make sure that everything was safe and extremely clean, and everybody was distanced. It was working really well. And people were coming, which was great.

"We had loads of plans for what we were going to do for the rest of the year to keep people coming. And we were quite excited about that prospect.

"So we're really upset to have to go through closing the buildings, again, talk to the staff, again. I guess we got a bit of a fright as well, because I think the second time, you worry that you can't plan anything now."

Now Charlene has called on government to support the industry.

"We really do need support from government at this point. I think we have to live with this for a little while. But the reality is, you can't ignore cultural entities like ourselves. They're important for people's mental health. They're important for jobs. They're important for our rich cultural landscape.

"I'd love to see some government support for exhibition. And for distributors too that need a dig out at the moment. When we do get back up and running, the fact is we are running at 20 to 30% capacity. And that's a really difficult thing," she added.