THE GALWAY Film Fleadh returns from Tuesday July 5 to Sunday 10 and film fans are in store for a feast of new Irish cinema, feature documentaries, short films, Oscar winners, and movies from Korea, Argentina, India, Germany, and Japan.
The guest of honour at this year’s fleadh will be the distinguished actor Martin Sheen, who is celebrated for his roles in Apocalypse Now and The West Wing. Mr Sheen will attend the world premiere of Stella Days, in which he plays a Roman Catholic priest who wants to set up a cinema in rural Irish town. He will also be the subject of the Galway Film Fleadh Public Interview in the Town Hall Theatre on Sunday July 10.
The Fleadh will also screen Bernadette - notes on a political journey, Lelia Doolan’s new documentary on the life and work of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.
Other premieres include Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a ground-breaking hybrid of performance-art and investigative documentary that tackles the US military’s controversial stance on homosexuality; and Irish director Neil Dowling’s debut Sarang Hey!, a globe-trotting romance set between Berlin and Seoul.
New Irish cinema
The Fleadh continues its tradition of showcasing new talent from home and abroad, opening on Tuesday July 5 with Darragh Bryne’s first feature, Parked. Starring Colm Meaney, it tells the story of the unlikely friendship between the unemployed middle-aged Fred and dope-smoking Cathal. John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard will also be shown [see separate article].
Other debut features include Rebecca Daly’s dark, dream-like The Other Side of Sleep; Alexandra McGuinness’ energetic and stylish Lotus Eaters; and Terry McMahon’s Charlie Casanova, which looks at the legacy of the Celtic Tiger through the monstrous caricature of unstable Irish masculinity that is Charlie.
The Fleadh will also premiere Triptych Productions’ debut feature Opus K, which stars Galway actor Liam Burke. Opus K is one man's struggle against forces as elusive as they are powerful and is reminiscent of the paranoia thrillers of the 1970s. See it on Thursday July 7 at 12 noon in the Cinemobile, next to the Town Hall.
There will also be new films from Mary McGuckian, with her Man On The Train, a heart-rending film starring Donald Sutherland and Larry Mullen as a retired literature professor and a bankrobber respectively; and Gerard Hurley’s The Pier which tells the story of Jack McCarthy’s return to Ireland after 20 years in America.
Cinema from abroad this year includes No Return, Miguel Cohan’s intricately crafted thriller about a man convicted for a crime he did not commit; Some Other Stories which describes the differing attitudes to motherhood from five different women in five different countries; and Girlfriend, a drama about a young man with Down Syndrome who has a crush on a single mum.
Fans of German cinema can look forward to a host of new and classic movies presented in association with the Goethe-Institut, including Above Us Only Sky, which tells the story of Martha who loses her husband in mysterious circumstances.
The highlight of the international features strand will be Suzanne Bier’s In a Better World, which won the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.
The Fleadh will also screen a vibrant selection of LGBT-interest films including 80 Days, a tale of two women in their seventies who find each other after 50 years; Gigola, a sumptuous depiction of the life of a female gigolo in 1960s Paris; and Tomboy, a sensitive and charming portrayal of gender ambiguity in young adolescents.
The Fleadh has long been renowned for its documentary strand and this year has plenty to offer all tastes and interests.
Knuckle focuses on the bare-knuckle fights among two Traveller families; Ballymun Lullaby is about Ron Cooney, a music teacher who teaches children in the Ballymun Music Programme; Barbaric Genius chronicles Irish author John Healy’s amazing journey from street mugger to chess champion to award-winning author.
Blood in the Mobile, set in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Finland, focuses on the dreadful conditions under which minerals for mobile phones are mined; and Bobby Fischer Against the World tells the amazing story of the tragic life of the late chess master.
Special documentary screenings include Northern Lights, in association with the Ireland:Iceland project, a strand of three inspirational Icelandic films - Gnarr, Dreamland, and Future of Hope, which explore the Icelandic response to the country’s economic crisis.
The Fleadh in association with the Irish Film Institute will screen Blazing the Trail, a documentary on New York’s Kalem Company, which between 1910 and 1915 produced almost 30 films about Ireland - including the first fiction films ever to be shot here.
The screening will be followed by The Lad from Old Ireland (1910 ) and His Mother (1912 ), both with live musical accompaniment.
Family films and short films
Family films at this year’s Fleadh include the Irish premiere of Cars 2. As a special treat the screening will be preceded by Cars Toons, a selection of short films starring the cast of Cars that have never before been seen on the big screen.
The Fleadh will also screen a range of shorts animation, fiction, and documentary films as well as the new strand, the 30 Minute Film Festival, which will show 30 one-minute films in a competitive setting. The Super8Shots Festival will also hold screenings as part of the fleadh [see separate article].