Dan Ireland

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Dan Ireland
BornMay 11, 1949
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Died(2016-04-14)April 14, 2016
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Director
  • producer
Known forCo-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival

Daniel Frederick "Dan" Ireland (May 11, 1949 (?) – April 14, 2016)[1][2] was an American-Canadian[3] film producer and director. Born in Portland, Oregon, he was the co-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival.[4]


Ireland was born a second of four children of Rainsford and Betty Ireland (née Shantz) in Portland.[5][6][7] His date of birth is disputed. Many sources state that he was born in 1958. More likely he was born in 1949.

When he was five years old, his mother moved back to Vancouver, where Ireland grew up.[6][3]

He began his career in 1976 by co-founding (with Darryl Macdonald) and running the Seattle International Film Festival from 1976-1986. Both Ireland and Macdonald immigrated from Vancouver to take on the task of creating the festival, and opening a first run art theatre, The Egyptian. During his tenure he was responsible for co-booking the prolific World Premieres the festival launched, including Joel and Ethan Coen's Blood Simple, Richard Rush's The Stunt Man, Irvin Kershner's The Empire Strikes Back, Ridley Scott's Alien, Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist, Marek Kanevska's Another Country, Carl Franklin's One False Move, and the American Premieres of George Miller's The Road Warrior, Alan Rudolph's Choose Me, Hector Babanco's Kiss Of The Spider Woman, Akira Kurosawa's Ran, Paul Verhoeven's Soldier of Orange, Spetters and The Fourth Man. In 1983 Ireland was awarded the coveted Golden Calf Award (the Dutch equivalent to the Academy Award) for his contribution to advancing Dutch Films in the United States. His friendship with director Verhoeven helped save the distribution in America for the director's breakthrough US film, the World War II saga, 'Soldier of Orange.'

In 1986, Ireland moved to Los Angeles to become the head of Film Acquisition for Vestron Pictures. During his three years tenure he Executive Produced (or spearheaded) such projects as John Huston's final film, The Dead, Bernard Rose's Paperhouse, and three of Ken Russell's best films of the 80's, Salome's Last Dance, The Lair of the White Worm, and D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow. Other notable films Ireland acquired during his time at Vestron include the Terry Jones sex comedy, 'Personal Services', Julian Temple's Earth Girls Are Easy, and Yurek Bogayevicz's Anna, starring Sally Kirkland, who went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance, and an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. After leaving Vestron Pictures, Ireland produced (with Ronaldo Vasconcellos) another film for director Ken Russell, Whore, starring Theresa Russell, and The Crew, for director Carl Colpaert at Cineville. In 1995, Ireland made the transition from producer to director with his critically acclaimed powerful film debut (Sundance 1996), The Whole Wide World, starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Renee Zellweger. It was her captivating performance in this film that caught the eye of producer James L. Brooks and director Cameron Crowe and launched Zellweger into the lead role opposite Tom Cruise in Crowe's Jerry Maguire. The Whole Wide World was awarded Best New American Film of The Seattle International Film Festival (1996), and won its actor Vincent D'Onofrio Best Actor for his superb portrayal of Robert E. Howard, legendary author of Conan the Barbarian, and Best Actress for Zellweger at the Mar del Plata Film Festival (1996).

Over the past twenty years, Ireland's films include The Velocity of Gary (1998), Passionada (2003), Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (Audience Award Winner Best Film, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Newport Beach International Film Festival) (2006), and E. L. Doctorow's Jolene, starring actress Jessica Chastain in a dynamic debut performance which launched her career. Ireland worked with Zellweger again on her entree into Executive Producing, Living Proof, the true story of oncologist Dr. Dennis Slamon who helped discover the Cancer drug Herceptin. The film was also produced by legendary producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. Ireland directed two short films, Hate From A Distance (2014) the story of racism as seen through the eyes of a child, made for the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act; and A Most Peculiar Man (2015) starring legendary stage actor Alan Mandell, about the friendship of an elderly Holocaust survivor and a young man on the verge of suicide.

Ireland's next film was going to be Life Briefly (2016) the ambitious, powerful true saga of Brian Knapp, a young man who had to overcome his blindness to become a world class drummer by the age of ten; eventually to become a guitar player who performed with Johnny Cash on stage seven times before his untimely passing at age fourteen.

Dan Ireland died on 14 April 2016 at his home in Los Angeles.[8]

In celebration of his legacy, the Louisiana International Film Festival, along with generous patrons, created a scholarship in Ireland's name, which commemorates his dedication to new talent. Louisiana artists and filmmakers are eligible for consideration, and funds from the scholarship are dedicated towards an event, showcase or internship in Los Angeles on the recipient’s behalf. In April 2017, the inaugural Dan Ireland Award was presented by special guest Renee Zellwegger to Atila Till for KILLS ON WHEELS.[9] In September 2017, the inaugural Dan Ireland Scholarship was awarded to Louisiana singer-songwriter & musician, JST DAVID.[10]



  1. ^ Dan Ireland, ‘Jolene,’ ‘The Whole Wide World’ Director, Dies at 57
  2. ^ Dennis Nyback, History in the Age of the Internet: Setting the Record Straight on Dan Ireland, Seattle Star, March 5, 2018. Accessed online March 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b “What Darryl Macdonald has done in Palm Springs is mind blowing. Am I surprised? Hell no…” — Dan Ireland Archived 2017-03-04 at the Wayback Machine.. In: cinemawithoutborders.com, July 5, 2012
  4. ^ http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=10097 retrieved 4/17/16
  5. ^ Daniel Frederick Ireland Obituary. In: legacy.com, access date March 4, 2017
  6. ^ a b Betty Ireland Obituary. In: legacy.com, access date March 4, 2017
  7. ^ Kristine McKenna: A Man Of ‘Action!’. In: Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1997
  8. ^ Dan Ireland, The Whole Wide World and Jolene Director, Dies at 57. In: people.com, April 15, 2016
  9. ^ "Dan Ireland - Louisiana Independent Film Festival". Louisiana Independent Film Festival. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  10. ^ "JST DAVID Wins Louisiana Film Fest Scholarship, Performs at Peppermint Club - California Rocker". California Rocker. 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2018-02-24.

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