A short film from writer-director Kev Cahill, The Nation Holds Its Breath, brilliantly captures the vibe of anticipation in parallel moments: 1.) the most important football match in Irish history, the 1990 World Cup elimination match against Romania, and 2.) the tumultuous birth of the main character’s child.

The wonderful juxtaposition of the countrywide hullabaloo of a national sporting event and the intimacy of a single couple’s first foray into parenthood is a stroke of genius, and the short film does a great job of balancing the humor of the father’s split anxiousness with the twin tension of the match and the childbirth. The characters in the film are relatively broad, but feel very real. They are closer to archetype than they are to caricature.

The Nation Holds Its Breath is a wonderful contemplation of perspective, the relative importance of sports and family, and anticipation of the unknown. Its humor is peculiar, its drama well-earned, and the entire package a fascinating joy to behold.

Screens (as part of Irish Short Film Showcase):
Saturday, March 4, 7:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the Toronto Irish Film Festival website.