By the time the end of July came, the Fleadh team sat back, exhausted but exhilarated.
It was, in the words of Sinatra, “a very good year”.
In terms of Irish cinema, the Galway Film Fleadh hosted the world premiere of Lance Daly’s Kisses on Friday the 11th. An endearing tale of two pre-teen kids spending a night on the magical and dangerous streets of Dublin city won the hearts of our audience and won the audience award for Best Irish Feature. Elsewhere, films such as Ivan Kavanagh’s Our Wonderful Home and Joel Conroy’s Waveriders demonstrated the strength of Irish filmmaking – Kavanagh’s piercing assessment of the Irish family facing economic, moral & spiritual decline, while Waveriders was a rare delight; a documentary that seemed to celebrate the senses and joys of an Irish community of surfers.
Bob Quinn’s Vox Humana (notes for a small opera), was another rare achievement – a perfect fusion of filmmaking and musicianship, while the story concerns itself with the tragedy of a man who, without family or support is so venerable in this society. A Film With Me In It was another great night – telling a comic tale with jet-black sensibilities, featuring a fantastic performance by Dylan Moran. Gabriel Byrne: Stories From Home was another top tier documentary from Pat Collins: a documentary that offered its audience a vast spectrum of feeling; at times the Town Hall Theatre laughed out loud, at other times, one could hear a pin drop.
With Peacefire (Macdara Vallely), Satellites & Meteorites (Rick Larkin) and Anton (Graham Cantwell), all directors demonstrated a mature approach to their craft, and an ability to extract compelling performances from their leads. In Fleadh ’08 they heralded their arrival as Irish filmmakers of true note.
Other documentary highlights included, Man On Wire, The English Surgeon, Camden 28, The Art of Catching Lobsters, and Marcela. Those who attended these screenings will remember these films vividly. The post-screening q&a with Henry Marsh (The English Surgeon) and Fr. Michael Doyle (Camden 28) had the attending audience offer an ovation in appreciation of the subjects’ efforts to make a positive contribution to the world around them.
Another highlight was the European premiere of Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, the documentary that subsequently won the audience award for best documentary. When Steve & Rob from Anvil were invited on stage after the screening an audience, who in all likelihood never heard of Anvil ninety minutes earlier, rose to their feet, applauded & screamed like the most ardent Anvil fan.
The Wild Card section offered its second year’s selection of filmmakers’ self-funded work. Films such as 8.5 hours, Christian Blake & Creatures of Knowledge made quite an impression on those who took advantage of our – pay for one, see all ticketing system.
The World cinema selection had an abundance of stand-out titles: The Visitor, Captain Abu Raed, Hope, Four Minutes, The Lemon Tree and a dozen others were consumed by an engaged audience at the Omniplex.
2008 was a fantastic year for guests. Bill Pullman was a regular man about town, spreading joy wherever he went! Documentary maker, Alex Gibney attended and participated in a post-screening discussion (Taxi To The Dark Side) on the US’s controversial interrogation techniques & presented the 2008 Director’s masterclass. It was a real honour to see the great Peter O’Toole invited to take a seat in the Town Hall Theatre on a Sunday afternoon. There was a palpable sense of regard in the air during the minutes-long ovation, and then Peter sat down and regaled the audience – a true master at winning the crowd. In the first few moments, a member of the audience took the opportunity to take a photograph. Peter felt the flash, his head turned to the fan, he pointed her out, “please, not now – I’m working”.
Luckily, RTE radio were there to archive Peter O’Toole’s talk. It was broadcasted twice in the last year and is quite simply, a fantastic piece of radio.
By the time Jessica Lange took the stage to introduce Bonneville, everyone was exhausted, but suspended their fatigue to extend once more a warm Galway welcome to one of the legends of the silver screen. Jessica had presented an actors’ masterclass the pervious day, to a group of aspiring Irish actors. But on this balmy summers night, she could just bask in the warm appreciation of our filmgoing public.
2008 AWARD WINNERS
Best First Feature
1st Peacefire - Dir. Macdara Vallely | Prods. Chris Martin & Sarah Perry
2nd The Lemon Tree - Dir. Eran Riklis | Prods. Bettina Brokemper, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Michael Eckelt, Eran Riklis
Best Feature Documentary
1st Anvil! The Story of Anvil - Dir. Sacha Gervasi | Prod. Rebecca Yeldham
2nd Young @ Heart - Dir. Stephen Walker | Prod. Sally George
Best Irish Feature
1st Kissess - Dir. Lance Daly | Prod. Macdara Kelleher
2nd Vox Humana - Dir. Bob Quinn | Prod. Cinegael
Best Irish Shorts - Tiernan MacBride Award
1st Martin - Dir. Sean Branigan | Prod. Adrienne Greenhalgh
2nd The Door - Dir. Juanita Wilson | Prod. Louise Curran
Best First Irish Short
1st Danger High Voltage - Dir. Luke McManus | Prod. Morgan Baker
2nd James - Dir. Conor Clements | Prod. Conor Clements
Best Irish Short Documentary
1st The Year I Got Younger - Dir. Genevieve Bailey | Prod. Aindrias de Staic, Genevieve Bailey, Henrik Nordstrom
2nd The Herd - Dir. Ken Wardrop | Prod. Andrew Freedman
Best Irish Short Animation
1st Granny O Grimm's Sleeping Beauty - Dir. Nicky Phelan | Prod. Darragh O’Connell
2nd My Day - Dir. Eamonn O’Neill | Prod. IADT
Best First Irish Short Animation - The James Horgan Award
1st Monolith - Dir. Matt Horan | Prod. IADT
2nd Plastesex - Dir. Conor Finnegan | Prod. IADT