Galway’s film community was out in full force at the Radisson Blu hotel on Tuesday evening for the programme launch of this year’s Film Fleadh, which runs from Tuesday July 5 to Sunday 10.
Featuring 15 world premieres and numerous European and Irish premieres, this feast of film represents the newest voices in Irish cinema alongside a focus on cinema, from Finland, daily programmes of shorts, and the best in world cinema, plus an eclectic range of documentaries
Speaking at the launch, festival director Gar O’Brien said: “Cinema is a very tribal thing; if you go back far enough in history you get to tribes in caves, looking at images on cave walls and flickering shadows by the firelight, together sharing something. As you come up to today, cinema has changed technologically so much but what is still there, is a communal shared experience.
"That is something we try to do every year in the Fleadh and Galway is a wonderful place to do that, to bring everyone together not just to watch films of the highest quality but also to have a shared, unique experience. Something that is very important about festivals is to connect with people and that goes through a lot of what we do. We’re going to present a feast of films and we’re hoping you’ll all be together with us as a tribe in the dark of the Town Hall or the Cinemobile having a shared experience.”
The programme features strong first features from debut directors, such as Richie Smyth’s stunning The Siege of Jadotville, which sees Jamie Dornan as Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan leading his 150-strong Irish battalion as they are confronted by 3,000 Congolese troops led by French and Belgian mercenaries in the Congo in 1961.
The Young Offenders is a hilarious comedy inspired by Ireland's biggest cocaine seizure of €440 million off the coast of Cork in 2007, which follows two Cork inner-city teenagers as they embark on a 160km road trip on stolen bikes in the hopes of finding some stray bales.
We take a journey into a very modern ‘Heart of Darkness’ with two desert-bound mercenaries in Simon Dixon’s gripping debut Tiger Raid, adapted from an original play by Mick Donnellan There will also be independently made Irish films South, Twice Shy, Dead Along The Way, and Staid.
Some truly impressive documentaries will be screened, including premieres of It’s Not Yet Dark, the inspiring story of director Simon Fitzmaurice, and Revolutions, Laura McGann’s exploration of the fast and aggressive roller-derby world which has become a haven for pissed-off women in a crippled country.
Ken Wardrop presents the Irish premiere of his latest film Mom & Me about men’s relationships with their mothers in the US’s ‘manliest state’, while Brendan Byrne examines Bobby Sands’ legacy in Bobby Sands: 66 Days. Crash and Burn tells the story of Tommy Byrne who for one brief moment in the eighties was the world's best racing driver, while Land of the Enlightened is a visually sumptuous examination of war-torn Afghanistan.
Other highlights include a focus on female filmmakers with some 30 films directed by women directors; a focus on Finnish cinema, featuring work that covers everything from cave-diving and cheerleading, to Sweden’s 17th century “queer Queen Kristina and her lady love”. A full menu of films looking at food and drink, a showcase of the films made in, by and about Galway; a complete setlist of superb music, and of course the best in Short Films.
As revealed in last week’s Galway Advertiser, the closing film of this year’s Galway Film Fleadh will be the Galway-produced Sanctuary, the big-screen adaptation of Blue Teapot Theatre Company’s hit play, a touching and funny love story set in a world of people with intellectual disabilities. The subject of this year’s public interview, on Sunday July 10 in the Town Hall, is that titan of Irish cinema Jim Sheridan.