Featuring a spectacular eleven World Premieres, forty-five new films, and over 100 short films, this year’s Galway Film Fleadh will feature powerful, moving, funny and provocative storytelling from both emerging and renowned filmmakers.
Embracing Ireland’s ‘outdoor summer,’ the Fleadh’s mainstage this July 20th-25th will be an outdoor cinema in Father Burke Park in the historic Claddagh in the heart of Galway city. Seventeen of the festival’s 40+ feature film line-up, and three of it’s specially curated short film programmes, will screen to an audience of 200 socially-distant audience members with audio delivered via wireless headphones. All the trappings of a summer festival including music, food and audience interaction with featured artists, will be a part of this year’s special edition of Ireland’s leading film event.
As part of its COVID preparations, festival organisers are assuring film fans that the majority of this year’s festival is still taking place online – with all films, Q+A’s, filmmaker discussions and industry events still being streamed online from the Film Fleadh website to audiences’ devices-of-choice. It is the Fleadh’s wish that those who cannot, or who aren’t yet ready for travel in the current phase of the pandemic, will enjoy the festival from the comfort of their own homes.
The Fleadh has long been a premiere festival for Irish filmmakers and this year is no different, with over twenty new titles from across the island flying the flag for Irish cinema. Previously announced Northern Irish psychological thriller Here Before and Galway-made exposé on institutional abuse Untold Secrets will open and close the event, while each evening will see new World Premieres like:
Foscadh, an Irish language drama set in the stunning wild mountains of North Conamara, and starring Donal Ó Healaí in a delayed coming-of-age tale that will have you rooting for its hapless hero as he takes his first tentative steps into manhood. Based on the book ‘The Thing About December’ by Donal Ryan.
Other Irish language titles include the murder mystery Doineann starring Peter Coonan as a journalist who discovers his reclusive wife and child have vanished from the family’s island home and The Queen Vs. Patrick O Donnell, the true story of how a Donegal native killed a member of assassination squad The Invincibles, off the coast of South Africa in 1883.
Who We Love (Clara Harte, Dean Quinn, Amy-Joyce Hastings, Venetia Bowe, Amy Hughes), which started life as an award winning short from writer /director Graham Cantwell and tells the tale of a girl on the cusp of becoming a young woman, who is faced with the greatest challenge of her young life.
Bicycle Thieves: Pumped Up, an independent feature from director Conor O’Toole described as a magical-realist action comedy. It stars Roxanna Nic Liam, Alison Spittle, Maeve Higgins, Tara Flynn and a host of Irish comedy performers and writers.
And documentaries like Pure Grit, about the male dominated world of Native American bareback horse racing and Sharmaine, a young woman determined to become a champion. And Love Yourself Today, which centres around the music of Irish singer songwriter Damien Dempsey and his fans, whose stories unravel their grief and find light in the darkness through communal art.
Galway’s line-up also features a host of international cinema with Irish creative talent in front of, and behind, the camera. Death of a Ladies Man stars Gabriel Byrne fresh off his IFTA win for Best Actor as a carousing college professor whose life takes a series of unimaginable turns when he begins to have surreal hallucinations. A Brixton Tale is a story of class divide in London, the gentrification in Brixton, and the appropriation of street culture by the upper classes, co-directed by Dubliner Darragh Carey. And Faith & Branko is a portrait of a personal and professional marriage between two wildly-different musicians in a documentary by Cork filmmaker Catherine Harte.
As a platform for World Cinema, Galway’s film competition Peripheral Visions focuses on first and second features, and this year’s contenders come from France, Belgium, Nigeria, Spain, Brazil and Northern Ireland. Among them are:
Beasts, a drama about modernisation and sexism on a family farm in France. Madly In Life is a comedy about dementia, told with deftness and dark humour as only Belgian cinema can do. Eyimofe is a tale of tragedy and fate told through the experiences of two Nigerians trying to better the lives of their families. El Planeta is a dark comedy exploring contemporary poverty, female desire, and the filial relationships of mothers and daughters; and in The First Death of Joana a 13 year old girl confronts the values of her community in southern Brazil, the secrets kept by the women in her family and her own nature.
Movie lovers of all ages will be well catered for with Generation Fleadh, an expanded section of programming for young adults, young children and families, including: Ride the Wave, a thrilling surfing doc about danger, opportunity, and parental dilemma as experienced by 14-year-old Scottish champion Ben Larg, and set amongst the dangerous cold water waves at Mullaghmore in Sligo. Best Summer Ever, an irresistibly appealing high-school musical comedy featuring an integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities. And Girls | Museum, a voyage through the historical art collection of the MdbK/Leipzig, guided by the insights of a group of girls, ages 7 to 19.
The outdoor cinema programme will feature the debut of the Irish language version of the Oscar nominated Wolfwalkers, which, if you thought had a mesmerising beauty and texture before, you will have to watch again as Gaeilge. There will also be big screen presentations of animated classics. A 30 Year Anniversary Screening of the ground-breaking Beauty & the Beast and a screening to mark twenty years of Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning anime, Spirited Away.
There are also dedicated sections for international documentaries, LGBT+ cinema, music docs, genre cinema, mid-length programming, as well as the festival’s Oscar Qualifying short film competition, including fifteen programmes of new short films. Two of this year’s shorts programmes, made under the aegis of Screen Ireland’s Actor as Creator scheme, will debut shorts helmed by actors given a bursary to create their own work.
This year’s Galway Film Fleadh runs from July 20th – July25th.