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Irish stories Cinegael showcases contemporary films from Ireland

A strong interest in Irish culture, including music, literature, drama and poetry, draws throngs to local events. But most contemporary Irish films never make it here.

That's a shortcoming that Cinegael Buffalo has worked to address since 2004, when the group Riverrun premiered its local film, "Following James Joyce Dublin to Buffalo," and added showings of several Irish-made films.

"It got a great turnout and an enthusiastic audience, so we continued," says Patrick Martin, who directed "Following James Joyce" and is president of Riverrun, which presents Cinegael Buffalo.

This year's screening of six films starts at 2 p.m. today in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery as part of its M&T First Fridays @ the Gallery. The varied and intriguing films range from an Oscar-winning short film to a stirring documentary about Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.

"The goal [of Cinegael Buffalo] is to show the best contemporary Irish film, especially those films that wouldn't otherwise be seen here," says Martin. The schedule includes three short films, which "has been an area of special Irish achievement in recent years," he says.

Admission to the films is free for gallery members and $5 for non-members.

* 2 p.m. "What We Leave in Our Wake": This 70-minute documentary, directed by Pat Collins, combines archival and current film and images with opinions and musings on issues confronting Ireland, ranging from the role of the church and the government in Irish life to emigration and myths.

* 3:30 p.m. "Noreen": This 18-minute film, directed by Domhnall Gleeson, stars his father and brother, Brendan and Brian Gleeson, as clueless police officers who get more than they expected at a call to a house in rural Athmuck, Co. Offaly.

* 4 p.m. "Bill Cunningham New York": This 84-minute documentary about a veteran fashion photographer, directed by Richard Press, is "the first time we've shown a film that isn't from or about Ireland," says Martin. "But Bill Cunningham himself strikes us as such an Irish type of his generation that it seems fitting as a kind of Irish expat movie. And it's such a great movie. It will pick up your day and is also very moving."

* 7:15 p.m. "The Shore": This 29-minute drama about two childhood friends separated by the conflict in Northern Ireland was directed by Terry George, with Ciaran Hinds. It won the 2012 Academy Award for Live Action Short.

* 7:45 p.m. "Pentecost": This 11-minute short, directed by Peter McDonald, is about a hapless boy in 1977 Ireland who must serve as an altar boy at an important Mass. It was nominated for the 2012 Academy Award for Live Action Short.

* 8 p.m. "Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey": This 88-minute documentary, filmed over nine years and directed by Lelia Doolan, tells the story of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, a socialist republican, feminist and civil rights campaigner who was elected to the British House of Commons at age 21. It was named Best Documentary from the Irish Film and Television Alliance in 2012.