Dan Ireland

Daniel Frederick 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]

Dan Ireland
BornMay 11, 1949
Died(2016-04-14)April 14, 2016
  • Director
  • producer
Known forCo-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival


Ireland was born the second of four children of Rainsford and Betty Ireland (née Shantz) in Portland, Oregon.[5][6][7] His date of birth is disputed. Some sources state that he was born in 1958. It is more likely he was born in 1949.

When he was five years old, his mother moved back to her home town Vancouver, Canada, 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 movies 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 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 of the director's 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 spearheaded such projects as John Huston's final film, The Dead; Bernard Rose's Paperhouse; and Ken Russell's Salome's Last Dance, The Lair of the White Worm, and The Rainbow. Other 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 won 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 The Whole Wide World, starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Renee Zellweger. It was her 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 at The Seattle International Film Festival (1996), and won its actor Vincent D'Onofrio Best Actor for his portrayal of Robert E. Howard, author of Conan the Barbarian, and Best Actress for Zellweger at the Mar del Plata Film Festival (1996).

Ireland's films include The Velocity of Gary (1998), Passionada (2003), Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2006), and E. L. Doctorow's Jolene, starring actress Jessica Chastain in a performance which launched her career. Ireland worked with Zellweger again when she executive-produced Living Proof, the true story of oncologist Dr. Dennis Slamon, who helped discover the cancer drug Herceptin. The film was also produced by 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 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, the true story of Brian Knapp, a young man who overcame blindness to become a professional drummer by the age of ten; he eventually became a guitar player who performed with Johnny Cash on stage seven times before his death at age fourteen.

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

The Louisiana International Film Festival 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 Renée Zellweger to Atila Till for Kills on Wheels.[9] In September 2017, the inaugural Dan Ireland Scholarship was awarded to Louisiana singer-songwriter and musician David Jones II, whose stage name is 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. ^ McKenna, Kristine (February 2, 1997). "A Man Of 'Action!'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 10, 2020.
  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. Archived from the original on 2018-11-23. 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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