The Hole in the Ground, the new horror starring Can't Cope, Won't Cope's Seána Kerslake, is one of five Irish films set to receive its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the US in the New Year. 

Animals, Dirty God and two documentaries, Gaza and Shooting the Mafia, are also part of the Irish line-up.

The festival, which runs from January 24 to February 3, has showcased Irish films such as Sing StreetBrooklyn,The Lobster, Calvary and The Guard in recent years.

The Hole in the Ground director Lee Cronin described it as a "privilege" to bring his film to the world-famous gathering.

"A hell of a lot of extremely talented people worked tirelessly to make the movie a reality, so I'm delighted that its creators, funders and supporters can celebrate the perfect launch-pad in Utah," he continued. 

"Personally, I'm excited to bring my horror story to the big screen, and I can't wait for Irish audiences to see it when it's released in cinemas in the New Year."

Gaza co-director Garry Keane, who made the film with Andrew McConnell, said being selected for Sundance was "a huge honour".

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"This is not only a professional Everest for us both, but even more so, it is a clear testament to the resilience and bravery of our contributors who have shared their lives with us in this beautiful and much misunderstood place," he explained. 

"It is a privilege to have spent time with them and to have had the chance to bring their stories of hope and survival in one of the most unique places on earth to the world's most prestigious documentary festival."

Joining The Hole in the Ground and Gaza are Sophie Hyde's Animals, a film about female friendship; Sacha Polak's psychological thriller Dirty God and Kim Longinotto's documentary Shooting the Mafia, which chronicles the courage of photojournalist Letizia Battaglia. 

Animals is an Irish-Australian co-production, with Dirty God a co-production between Ireland, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. All five films were funded by Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland.

"The selection process is one of the most competitive in the world, so to have such a strong line-up in the 2019 edition of the festival is a fantastic achievement for our industry," said Screen Ireland Chief Executive James Hickey. 

"Two out of the 12 documentaries in the international line-up, selected from all over the world, are Irish."

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