Bening, Boosh, and Gazza’s tears - a feast of films at the Galway Film Fleadh

EIGHT WORLD premieres, 53 Irish premieres, 100 feature films and documentaries, and 115 short films will be screened at the 22nd Galway Film Fleadh which takes place from Tuesday July 6 to Sunday 11.

There are thrillers and romances to enjoy, while children can look forward to Toy Story 3. The documentaries focus on a wide range of subjects including football, gay history, swimming, food, horses, and life in rural China.

The main guests

Annette Bening, the three times Oscar nominated actress, will give the Actors’ Masterclass and take part in the public interview on Sunday July 11 at 3pm in the Town Hall Theatre. She is best known for her roles in Bugsy (1991 ), Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (1996 ), Being Julia (2004 ), and above all in the magnificent American Beauty (1999 ).

Ronald Harwood, who wrote the screenplays for The Browning Version (1994 ), Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist (2005 ), Being Julia (2004 ), and The Pianist (2002 ), for which he won an Academy Award, will give The Screenwriters’ Masterclass on Wednesday July 7 in the Radisson Hotel.

The English theatre and film director and producer Stephen Daldry is best known for his first three films - Billy Elliot, The Hours, and The Reader - and he is the only director to be nominated for an Oscar (all for Best Director ) for his first three films. He will give the Directors’ Masterclass on July 10 in the Radisson Hotel.

The Fleadh will also honour one of it’s founders in Lelia Doolin. Lelia will be the subject of the Irish tribute at the festival and she will take part in a public interview with Bingham Ray on Saturday July 10 at 2pm.

Opening and

closing films

The festival opens with the screening of the Irish film My Brothers, directed by Paul Fraser. The film tells the story of brothers Paudie, Scwally, and Noel, and their eccentric quest one Halloween, as they head to Ballybunion, to replace their dying father’s tacky watch.

The fleadh will close with the screening of The Messenger which boasts an Oscar nominated performance from Woody Harrelson. Harrelson stars as a soldier who has just returned from Iraq and his next task is to deliver the news to families that their son was killed in action. This is hard enough until he falls in love with a young woman to whom he must bring the dreadful news.

Film highlights

Fans of The Mighty Boosh will be delighted to learn that the new Irish film Come On Eileen, to be screened at the leadh, will star the Boosh’s Noel Fielding (aka the super cool, Jagger worshipping, Vince Noir ). Also starring in the film is Keith Allen, father of singer Lilly Allen.

Other Irish films to watch out for include The Runway which recounts the story of a west Cork community coming together to help a Cuban pilot return home, and Snap, a taut, suspense filled, psychological drama by Carmel Winters, about three generations of family poised to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Fans of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor books will also be looking forward to The Guards, the film version of Bruen’s acclaimed novel.

Toy Story 3 is the latest instalment in the ongoing adventures of Buzz Lightyear and friends, and is sure to be the one of the most popular films at this year’s fleadh. Given how wonderful the first two films were, expectations will be high. The screening will be attended by the film’s renowned director Lee Unkich and producer Karla K Anderson.

Another family film of note is the British/French film The Illusionist, a wonderful animated feature which explores the relationship between an aged magician and a young girl.

A number of Annette Bening’s films will be screened during the fleadh, but of most interest will be her latest movie, The Kids Are Allright, which co-stars Julianne Moore. It tells the story of two comfortable suburban mothers whose lives are thrown into disarray, when the children want to find their biological father. The film won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival and caused a stir at Sundance this year.

Italian film The Men Who Will Come is set in 1943 and concentrates on eight-year-old Martina and the community she lives in, which is about to become victim to a horrific reprisal attack by Hitler’s SS.

El Secreto de Sus Ojos, which won this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Film will also be screened, as will The Unloved, directed by Samantha Morton, based on the real life experiences of a young girl in care. Outcast, starring Irish actor James Nesbitt, tells the story of a mother and son who use magic to stay hidden.

Thriller fans can look forward to Rewind, Between the Canals, which follows the life of three inner city Dublin criminals, and the acclaimed French film, A Prophet, where prisoner Malik must obey the demands of a Corsican gang, but he has plans of his own, and he will carry them out.

Fans of classic romantic films can look forward to screenings of Babette’s Feast, David Lynch’s The Straight Story, and To Have and Have Not, starring Humprey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Documentaries

The Pipe, directed by Risteard O’Domhnaill, describes the tensions of Rossport and the pressures and fractures within the Shell to Sea Campaign. Legendary comedienne Joan Rivers will be the subject of a hilarious and revealing documentary of how she deals with financial troubles in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.

Steam of Life explores the cultural phenomenon of how Finnish people interact with each other in saunas while Men Who Swim looks at an all-male synchronised swimming team.

Soccer fans will be interested in One Night In Turin, which looks back at England’s efforts in Italia 90 and how Paul Gasgoine’s tears after the semi-final defeat to Germany became an iconic image.

Music fan are in for a treat when the fleadh screens Leonard Cohen - Live at the Isle of Wright, recorded in 1970, while foodies will enjoy Kings of Pastry. Counting Sheep, by Galway-based filmmaker, Dieter Auner, a tender and beautifully observed documentary on Romanian rural life.

Another documentary to watch out for is Stonewall Uprising, which looks at a key moment in gay history. In 1969 a police raid in a Greenwich Village bar led to riots by the gay community, and saw many arrested and subjected to aversion therapy.

Burma Soldier tells the powerful story of a Burmese soldier who risks everything to become a pro-democracy activist. Monica and David explores the marriage of two adults with Down Syndrome. It will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Fergus Finlay.

Those who love Galway ‘in the old days’ or with an interest in the city’s history will enjoy Glimpses Of Galway in the Town Hall on Thursday July 8 at 2pm, when a selection of silent films made in Galway - Aran Of The Saints, Ireland’s Golden West (a travelogue ), King of the Tribes (recording a Traveller gathering ), and Tir na nÓg (about life in Galway in the early 20th century ) - are screened. The films will be brought to life by pianist Elaine Brennan.

Lovers of short films will not be disappointed as the fleadh will screen a mixture of animation, documentary, and fiction shorts and short filmmakers will compete for several awards. As part of it’s Out on Film Strand the Galway Film Fleadh will once again promote the best in gay and lesbian films.

Tickets for all screenings are available from the Town Hall Theatre in Galway (091 - 569777 or www.tht.ie ). The full festival programme is available on www.galwayfilmfleadh.com

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