Galway Film Fleadh programme unveiled

‘We've heard all the excuses. TV licence inspectors...’ — A scene from Top Floor Left Wing.

‘We've heard all the excuses. TV licence inspectors...’ — A scene from Top Floor Left Wing.

DETAILS OF the line-up for the 23rd Galway Film Fleadh, which runs from July 5 to 10, were revealed at the festival’s press launch in the Radisson Hotel on Tuesday evening.

Incoming Programmer Gar O’Brien and the Fleadh team have put together a mouth-watering selection of first features, documentaries, shorts, and cinema classics, from home and abroad, guaranteed to make a big impact with audiences.

The fleadh’s opening film this year is Darragh Byrne’s debut feature, Parked, starring Colm Meaney. It’s a wonderful tale of the unlikely friendship between Fred, middle-and recently unemployed and the younger dope-smoking Cathal, both of whom live in their cars.

Other notable Irish features include John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard, shot on the west coast and starring Brendan Gleeson as a garda sergeant and Don Cheadle as an FBI agent investigating an international drugs racket.

Rebecca Daly’s The Other Side of Sleep is a dark, dreamlike and beautiful debut and Alexandra McGuinness’s The Lotus Eaters is energetic, stylish and unerringly hip. Then there’s Charlie Casanova, Terry McMahon’s jet-black and timely examination of the Celtic Tiger.

Galway audiences will also be keen to see Jack Taylor: The Pikemen which sees Ian Glen reprise his role as Ken Bruen’s world-weary Galway-based investigator. Another Irish-made highlight is Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s Stella Days, starring Martin Sheen as a Tipperary priest.

On the final afternoon of the Fleadh, Mr Sheen will also participate in a public interview, with RTÉ radio’s Sean Rocks, about his many iconic screen roles, an event which will be followed by a special screening of his breakthrough film, Badlands.

Among the international features to look forward to are Miguel Cohan’s striking thriller No Return, about the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident, and Jan Schomburg’s Above Us Only Sky about a woman who loses her husband and realises their relationship was a lie.

The inimitable Donald Sutherland stars in Man On A Train about the chance encounter between a retired professor and a bank robber.

Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer star in Mike Mills’ Beginners, this year’s closing film and a moving and funny portrayal of the relationship between a son and his elderly father who, at the age of 75, reveals that he is gay.

There is an especially strong line-up of documentaries in this year’s fleadh. Among these are Lelia Doolin’s Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey which offers an in-depth study of the life and career of Bernadette McAliskey and has been nine years in the making.

Ian Palmer’s Knuckle should also arouse keen interest with its exploration of the secretive world of bare-knuckle fighting among the Traveller community. Another documentary that’s sure to excite comment is Keith Allen’s provocative Unlawful Killing which examines the death of Princess Diana and contends that the British Establishment conspired to cover up the full circumstances of that event.

Frank Piasecki Poulsen’s Blood in the Mobile exposes the troubling links between our mobile phones and the bloody civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Minerals used to produce the phones are sourced from mines in the Congo that are often controlled by armed groups and use child labour in terrible conditions.

There is a special strand of cinema devoted to new and classic German cinema and film-goers will surely be specially pleased to be given a rare chance to see works such as Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, and FW Murnau’s The Last Laugh on the big screen.

The above is only the briefest sampling of the myriad delights on offer in this year’s Fleadh. Full details of the programme can be accessed at http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com

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