Sue Murphy attended the launch of the 23rd Galway Film Fleadh this week. Here is her preview of the programme:
This week, I was delighted to attend the Galway Film Fleadh Launch in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway. The 23rd Fleadh runs in Galway from the 5th to the 10th of July and continues to gain momentum annually, demonstrated by the considerable turn out for the Launch, despite the rain! Gar O’Brien, Programmer for the 2011 event ran us through the impressive programme for this year.
The name of the Galway Film Fleadh has become synonymous with the “first feature”, and this year is no different, with the Opening Film of the festival a strong first feature for Darragh Byrne. Parked tells the story of recently unemployed Fred and dope-smoking Cathal who strike up an unlikely friendship. They also happen to be neighbours, who live in their cars. Starring the wonderful Colm Meaney and Colin Morgan, the film’s screening will be attended by the Director.
It would be near impossible to run through the entire programme, so this is just the select picks, and there are quite a few of them! The Guard, which has been travelling the Festival Circuit and receiving rave reviews, has its Irish Premiere, fittingly at the Fleadh. Fortunately, I managed to get a sneak peek of the feature and can confirm that this is a screening not to be missed. Chronicling the tales of Sergeant Gerry Boyle, the last of the independents, The Guard, set in Galway, gets caught up in a drug-trafficking case brought to Irish shores by Don Cheadle’s FBI agent Wendell Everett. Gleeson is, of course, the star of the production, turning out yet another wonderful comic performance. The Guard will be screened in the Eye Cinema at 19.00 and in the Town Hall at 21.00 on Wednesday, 6th of July.
Other select Irish picks include Ballymun Lullaby, directed by Frank Berry, which we cannot recommend highly enough. Lullaby tells the story of Ron Cooney, a music teacher from Ballymun who decides to spend a year of his life curating a music collection, which gives a voice to the young people in the area. If you missed Ballymun Lullaby at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, now is your opportunity to catch it in Galway on Friday, 8th July at 10am. Another favourite is the wonderfully touching Men of Arlington, which documents the life of the Irish men of Arlington House in Camden who left Ireland to work in London, some of whom never returned. Heartbreaking and stirring, we dare you to get to the end without shedding a tear. Men of Arlington screens at 8pm on Saturday, 9th of July. Other wonderful screenings include Johnny O’Reilly’s The Weather Station, Barbaric Genius, a documentary about the author John Healy, Treacle Jnr, starring the exploding talent of Aiden Gillen and the intriguing Holy Wars.
International features this year include Miguel Cohan’s No Return, the story of a group of strangers who must deal with the impact of a fatal hit-and-run accident. For 80 Days examines the relationship between two females who had chemistry in their past but went their separate ways in life. Following a chance meeting, the pair’s relationship is examined in their later years. The eagerly anticipated follow up to Pixar’s Cars, Cars 2, will get a screening in the Eye and the closing film will be The Beginners starring Ewan McGregor.
As if that is not enough to whet your appetite, Galway’s own Martin Sheen will make a welcome return for the feature Stella Days. He will also be the subject of “An Afternoon with Martin Sheen”, a public interview which will be held in the Town Hall at 3pm on the final day of the Fleadh. Not that Martin Sheen needs a public interview as such; he is practically considered a Galway native at this stage! In honour of Sheen, there will also be a screening of the classic Badlands.
On top of all that excitement, the Fleadh, famous for its support of the first feature and the Irish Film Industry, will screen an Irish Shorts Programme each morning to kick off the day. Galway Film Centre and Input Media is also involved with the 30-Minute Film Festival, which will screen thirty one minute films on the final day.
There is actually not enough space to go through each and every great event in this festival (I have just realised I forgot to mention The Other Side of Sleep) but please scoot on over to the website and have a look (David Mackenzie is running a master class for scriptwriting). If you are not from Galway, consider paying a visit for a couple of days. There’s no Fleadh like the Galway Fleadh. (That’s a Sue Murphy trademark right there)