Wednesday 26 July 2017

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Galway Independent


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Thursday, 6th July, 2017 4:30pm

Galway becomes the film capital of Ireland next week as film goers and filmmakers from around the world arrive for the Film Fleadh. With over 80 features screening this year, festival programmer Gar O'Brien looks ahead to this year’s festival, writes Sandra Coffey. 


With 80 features, including 16 world premieres, and 100 Irish shorts, film goers and filmmakers will have plenty to savour at this year’s festival, which runs from Tuesday 11 July to Sunday 16 July.

Festival programmer Gar O’Brien says that there are plenty of new Irish titles that will capture audience attention this year and it’s difficult to pick highlights. “There is such quality of Irish cinema again this year. We also have a number of international titles that I think will really grab people this year.”
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is having writer/director Richard Kelly, director of 2001 cult hit 'Donnie Darko', deliver this year’s screenwriting masterclass. The film will also be shown at the festival, along with Kelly’s controversial ‘Southland Tales’.
The Christopher Nolan epic ‘Dunkirk’, set during World War II, is also creating a buzz around this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. Starring Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and former One Directioner Harry Styles, the film gets its Irish premiere at the festival next week.

Programmer’s picks

 ‘The Big Sick’ is one of Gar’s favourite titles this year. “It’s ostensibly a rom-com, albeit one that is based on comedian Kumail Nanjiani’s very personal story of his real-life relationship and journey with his now-wife Emily V. Gordon, both of whom co-write,” explains Gar.
Another highlight is ‘God’s Own Country’, a first feature from Francis Lee. “It’s been described as a ‘British Brokeback Mountain, but better’ and, while true, that only tells half the story of this absolutely wonderful film. The film utterly resists stereotypes.” The drama is set in Yorkshire. Gar explains, “It is a gay love story set in the world of farming. It’s easily one of the best films of the year but as a first feature it’s just unbelievably good and marks Lee as a real talent for the future.”
Finally 'Richard the Stork', presented by the Junior Film Fleadh, is a family animation ideal for a Sunday matinee at the Fleadh. “This is nice as it’s rare that we get to do something so youth/family oriented. It’s also interesting in that the film was pitched at our market at the Galway Film Fair a number of years back and it’s just wonderful to see what was merely an idea spoken about at the festival is now a fully realised film on our screens. It’d be a great afternoon out for anyone with kids too as they won’t see the film anywhere else for quite a while as we have it as an Irish premiere.”

Documentary stream

The festival has built a reputation for its documentaries in recent times. And this year is no different. “It’s a really strong year for documentary at the Fleadh both nationally and internationally,” says Gar. “On the Irish side, ‘The Peacemaker’ is one that really stands out for me. It follows international peacemaker Padraig O'Malley, who, as the film makes clear, helps make peace for others but struggles to find it for himself.” Both the director James Demo and Padraig O’Malley will be in attendance for the screening. “It’s a really powerful film that I think audiences will respond to,” he adds.
 'Jaha’s Promise', also sticks out for Gar. This is a documentary about the life and activism of Jaha Dukureh, a Gambian anti-female genital mutilation campaigner who returns to her country of birth to confront the harmful tradition that she and 200 million women and girls have undergone globally. “She’s a truly inspiring woman and we hope to have her there on the day for the film too for a discussion afterwards with the directors and RTE’s Marian Finucane,” says Gar.
Also showing is ‘Condemned to Remember’ with Tomi Reichental, who survived the concentration camp prison and who many will remember from the documentary ‘Close to Evil’.
Speaking about ‘Condemned to Remember’, Gar says, “It is a powerful film which sees the Irish holocaust survivor travel around Europe in crisis meeting the ‘new Jews’ of Europe and looking at the refugee crisis. There will be a panel discussion after the film too which will be a must-attend event for a lot of people.”

John Hume in America

Among those making an appearance at this year’s festival is former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He will be attending the screening of 'In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America’, a portrait of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and will be part of a post-screening discussion on the film.
“I imagine Bertie's presence will be as divisive as it normally is,” says Gar. “Some people love him, some people…don’t. But his role in the peace process, as covered in the film ‘In The Name of Peace: John Hume in America’ is a matter of record and he will provide a fascinating perspective on that as well as his relationship with John Hume. So we’re excited to add to the context of the film in that sense. I secretly do hope he brings his yellow jacket though!”

Be entertaining

Along with the industry-focused Galway Film Fair, the Pitching Award is a highlight for many. This is where filmmakers get to pitch a film idea to a room full of film fans. The winner walks away with a cash prize of €3,000. It has been the starting point for many filmmakers.
Gar has this advice for those who made the shortlist this year, “Above all else have confidence in your material, don’t deliver it too fast and engage the audience as much as possible. You have 90 seconds and the audience’s reaction will have an impact on the judges so engage them and that’s half the battle. Above all else: Be entertaining!”
All shortlisted participants will pitch their idea on final day of the festival, with the winner announced that evening, Sunday 16 July.
For full festival details and to get tickets see 

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