The 26th Galway Film Fleadh: Day 4

deadbookDay 4 of the Fleadh started off with three back to back shorts programs that ran the spectrum of subject matter….a variable field day for screen writers. Here’s a few we hope to screen in Chicago. For fans and addicts of social media DEADBOOK, directed by Richard Scobie, keeps friends and family connected…from beyond the grave…forever…seriously! For those who are worried about global warming director Maria-Elena Doyle’s ORGANIC has a new twist on “renew, reuse and recycle”. And  FEARLESS, directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Fionnula Flanagan, looks at suicide from two angles, those who can’t cope with an uncertain future and those that want to preserve a picture perfect past….
poison_penPOISON PEN is the latest film from the Filmbase / Staffordshire University production course and it is another crowd pleasing rom-com with high production values and a great cast that includes Lochlann O Mearain (The O’Brien’s King Arthur) and Aoibhinn McGinnity (Love/Hate) Written by the best selling author of the Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Coffer, POISON PEN is story of a Booker Award winning author and university professor forced  into writing for a gossip/tabloid magazine. The clash of literary worlds is amusing and provides loads of laughs, but the film is interesting in its behind the scenes look at how media is can be both informative and exploited at the same time and how easily we all get caught up in celebrity gossip.
goldNiall Heery’s new film GOLD is a heartfelt collision of Modern Family meets What About Bob? when a family is turned upside down by the sudden appearance of an old high school sweetheart returning to town after a 12 year absence. With a wonderful cast that includes David Wilmot (Ripper Street /The Guard ), Masie Williams (Game of Thrones) and Jim Nesbitt (The Hobbitt /Bloody Sunday) GOLD is all about Ray, a down and outer who has come back to reconnect with Abbie, his teenage daughter, and set things right with his dying father. Having nowhere to go he moves into Abbie’s home setting off a string of a chaotic events that will change everyone’s life forever. A funny, touching and witty film about redemption and family.
shooting_for_socratesWith all of the 2014 World Cup excitement still lingering in the air it was the perfect time to see James Erskine’s SHOOTING FOR SOCRATES a film about Northern Ireland’s 1986 World Cup game against Brazil. The story is told through the eyes of the players, the coach, members of the media and fans on both sides of the border weaving together a wonderful piece of football history that is filled with excitement and nail biting even though everyone knows the outcome. A great David vs Goliath tale with a little football thrown in for good measure. And everyone was thrilled to meet David Campbell and Sammy McIlroy from the 1986 team who still  both look as if they could play a match tomorrow….wow!
Next up Day 5…

The 26th Galway Film Fleadh: Day 3

the_swingWell if we thought there was variety on Day 2 , Day 3 took things to the next level covering topics as divergent as apartheid, an Irish weather station on June 5, 1941, a futuristic wild west without water and maybe the worst vampire movie ever made.

Three short films stood out in today shorts’ programs: Liam O Machain’s THE TENT based on a true story about a Polish couple and the Irishman who sets up camp in their back yard, Paul Murphy’s THE WEATHER REPORT, also based on real events, about a small Irish weather station whose report is called into question on the eve of the landings on Normandy Beach and Damien Dunne’s THE SWING a coming of age story on a rural farm.

blood_fruit_englishBLOOD FRUIT, a documentary directed by Sinead O’Brien, is the remarkable story of a group of young Dubliners, mostly women, who in 1984 began a strike against the Dunne grocery store against apartheid that lasted almost 3 years. The strike began over the refusal to handle and ring-up grapefruits harvested in South African under apartheid labor practices and their strike eventually resulted in changing the WTO’s definition of fair trade and labor. The cost to the women involved, most in their late teens and early 20’s at the time, is almost unimaginable, but they never gave up and all that attended the world premiere of the film said they would do it again. The standing ovation was long and well deserved.
get_up_and_goJumping in the totally opposite direction is Brendan Grant’s new film GET UP AND GO about two friends who do neither. Peter Coonan (Love/Hate) and Killian Scott (Calvary) wonder around Dublin suffering the slings and arrows of just about everyone as their love lives, marginal careers and overall future seems to be going up in flames. The best thing to do is leave town, but that’s not always as easy as it sounds; touching, funny and outrageous in turns.
young_onesBleak and unrelenting captures the essence of YOUNG ONES by director Jake Paltrow. Set out west in a time when water has become the most precious commodity a small family struggles to survive against the elements. Starring Michael Shannon as the patriarch and Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult as young lovers the film evolves into a Greek tragedy of sorts as greed, lies and secrets take root in a barren landscape.
light_of_dayAmy Carroll, Conor Dowling and Eoin O’Neill’s LIGHT OF DAY was the perfect late night film within a film about a completely inept, narcissistic director making a low budget vampire film. Along for the ride is the long suffering crew, a producer who keeps losing control of the situation and the young graphic novelist who supplied the source material and is falling in love with the DOP. A roller-coaster of film production clichés that had the audience laughing throughout its entire 85 minute run…there’s something to be said for good old fashioned mindless entertainment.

The 26th Galway Film Fleadh: Day 2

h-kicking_the_wallIrish films on Day 2 could not have been more varied, literally. The day began with a group of shorts from the west of Ireland that covered topics big and small. Director Michelle McDonagh attempted to explain the unique custom of KICKING THE WALL on a Galway promenade while filmmaker Micháel Ó Flaithearta paid a lovely tribute to Irish composer in CHARLIE LENNON and filmmakers Ed and Mark Griffin put a novel spin on grieving and closure as a young man tries to deal with the death of his father in DRIFT.

corman_1A packed house laughed, hooted and howled through filmmaker Brian Reddin’s documentary about B-movie legend Roger Corman in IT CAME FROM CONAMARA. For five years Corman crank out his signature films, including The Very Unlucky Leprechaun, on the west coast of Ireland and many of his former crew where in the audience validating the amazing stories behind Corman’s directing style and the revolving door of well-known Hollywood actors that appeared in his Irish productions including James Brolin, Corbin Berstein, and Tim Matheson. An amazing story about an amazing man who is still producing films today.
anightingalefall620350The last years of Ireland’s War of Independence is the setting for a gripping love story in Garrett Daly and Martina McGlynn’s world premiere of A NIGHINGALE FALLING. When fate finds two sisters caring for a wounded Black & Tan soldier their lives are changed forever as fear of retaliation by the British is balanced against their fear of the IRA if the young man is discovered under their roof. With wonderful performances by Tara Breathnach, Muireann Bird and Gerard McCarthy coupled with stellar cinematography and music A NIGHTINGALE FALLING is a fascinating story of fear, jealousy and secrets by those drawn into the conflict.

The 26th Galway Film Fleadh: Day 1

The Fleadh kicked off last night on a truly high note with festival board president, Kate O’Toole, welcoming Fleadh “floozies” one and all including a Fleadh floozy favorite, Fionnula Flanagan, who’s short film “Fearless” screens Friday. Next up was festival programmer, Gar O’Brien, whose enthusiasm for this year’s slate of films was palatable as he ticked off highlights and premieres, special guests and festival events.
IMG_1501Standing next to him was director John Carney (Once) to start the festival with a screening of his latest film Begin Again starring Kiera Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine which opened in the states a few weeks ago to a very mixed bag of reviews…the consensus of the Fleadh audience would be “go see it” if applause and after screening discussions are anything to go by. And a quick apology for a late night Tweet noting that the soundtrack was downloadable…of course it is, we meant to say it was absolutely worth downloading, the music was wonderful throughout the film.
We also briefly met Joe Caslin, the artist behind this year’s festival program cover image which is part of a project called Our Nation’s Sons, that includes large scale drawings in public places in the hope of kick starting conversations about the needs of young people around the world especially those that have been marginalized by governments and society at large. Melding social issues, politics, public discourse and film isn’t a new concept here at the Fleadh, nor at other Irish film festivals, but it brings an interesting dimension to the program.
Definitely looking forward to Day 2…