IN HIS first official engagement as Mayor of Galway, Pearce Flannery told the launch of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh, how, as a boy in Ballinasloe, he and his friends were thrilled to be cast as extras in the 1971 movie, Flight Of The Doves.
Unfortunately the boys' excitement later turned to disappointment when the film came out and their scenes had been cut. The Mayor was speaking in the Radisson Hotel on Tuesday evening for the official programme launch of the Galway Film Fleadh.
Continuing with his speech, the Mayor said: “If you look back to that time now, the growth of film in Ireland and the west of Ireland, in Galway and Connemara, it has been phenomenal. It’s an industry that contributes over €80 million to the economy and has put vibrancy and employment into areas like Connemara that needed it.
"There are many other festivals in Galway but the Film Fleadh has grown to take its place as one of the biggest and most vibrant festivals in the west of Ireland which is a phenomenal achievement. It is worth almost €7 million to the Galway economy and is a wonderful festival. The Government has committed to develop the potential of the regional fund so Galway going forward will have huge competitive advantage, nationally, and internationally and will propel the film and television sectors to a new level."
He noted how the fleadh line-up comprises more than 80 feature films, including 16 world premieres, almost 100 short films, event screenings, discussions, and master-classes. "It’s a long way from Flight Of The Doves," he said.
The programme is packed with exciting films of local, national and international interest. The opening film is Song Of Granite, Pat Collins’ biopic of sean-nós titan Joe Heaney (see also this week’s ‘Shooting the Breeze’ where Collins talks about his film ) while other headliners include Rocky Ros Muc, about boxer Sean Mannion, Pilgrimage, set in 13th century Ireland, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and God’s Own Country, described as ‘a British Brokeback Mountain’.
There are a number of superb music documentaries, including Nick Broomfield’s Whitney: Can I Be Me, about Whitney Houston; Bang! The Bert Berns Story, Long Strange Trip – the Untold Story of the Grateful Dead, and DA Pennebaker’s classic rendering of the 1967 Monterey Festival.
There is a strong vein of socially conscious films exploring urgent topical issues like homelessness, refugees, LGBT rights, the legacy of the Troubles, female genital mutilation, and the Irish prison system. Other programme highlights include a focus on Polish cinema, featuring work that covers everything from Albert Camus’s The Stranger, communist-era serial killers, and the trials of a female sexologist who managed to upset both church and State.
The festival is bulging at the seams with brilliant films large and small, local and international, fictional,and factual and really does have something for everyone. The Film Fleadh runs from July 11 to 16 and full details of its line-up can be found at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com