Daniel Frederick "Dan" Ireland (May 11, 1949 – April 14, 2016) was an American-Canadian film producer and director. Born in Portland, Oregon, he was the co-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival.
Dan Ireland began his career in 1976 by co-founding (with Darryl Macdonald) and running the Seattle International Film Festival from 1975-1986. Both Ireland and Macdonald immigrated from Vancouver in their late teens 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 Stuntman', Irwin Kirshner'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', '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 it's 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 EL 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 Mandel, about the friendship of an elderly Holocaust survivor and a young man on the verge of suicide.
Ireland's next film 'Life Briefly' (2016) is 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. Ireland describes the film as the most significant of his career, and one that is challenging for all the right reasons. The film starts Bill Paxton, Ashley Judd and young actor Ty Simkins. With cameos by Chazz Palminteri as Buddy Rich and Mark Collie as Johnny Cash. The Director of Photography is legendary Dean Semler, (Oscar Winner, 'Dances With Wolves', 'The Road Warrior', 'Apocalypto').
He is one of the people instrumental in starting Paul Verhoeven's career in the United States. While screening several movies for a soft-porn theater, he came upon Turkish Delight (1973), and was so impressed by it, that he gave it a wider release in the USA. He brought some of Verhoeven's Dutch films to the attention of producer Kathleen Kennedy, who showed them to her business partner Steven Spielberg. Spielberg introduced Verhoeven to several studio executives, which ultimately led to his first American co-production, Flesh+Blood (1985), and a successful career in Hollywood.