Twenty-one films from around the world will make their World Premiere at Galway this year, as part of a milestone 2018 programme that boasts a whopping 107 feature films. Championing new voices and a platform of discovery, Director of Programming Will Fitzgerald revealed to a packed house at the Galmont Hotel on Thursday evening that 55 of the films featured are from first time feature directors.
As the flagship festival for new Irish cinema, the Film Fleadh’s line-up of home-grown premieres does not disappoint. Director Viko Nicki whose film Coming Home won Best Irish Documentary at the Film Fleadh in 2013, returns with the World Premiere of Cellar Door, his first feature drama, starring Karen Hassan, Catherine Walker and Mark O’Halloran in a Magdalene laundry inspired mystery-drama. Actor Hugh O’Conor’s feature directorial debut Metal Heart stars the anticipated breakthrough performance of Jordanne Jones (I Used to Live Here) as a self-conscious young woman stuck at home with her estranged sister, whose sibling rivalry threatens to boil over when Moe Dunford, playing the role of the mysterious older man, moves in next door. Dunford also stars in Northern Irish thriller The Dig, in which he plays a man who has served fifteen years for murder and returns home to find the victim’s grieving father still searching his land for the missing body. Martin Beirne marks an auspicious debut with his rural coming-of-age tale Around Here, produced entirely independently in the director’s native Roscommon. Melissa George (Home & Away, The Good Wife) will present the World Premiere of David Gleeson’s new film Don’t Go, in which she plays a woman escaping her grief with her husband (Stephen Dorff) in the West of Ireland. Irish Olympian and champion professional boxer Katie Taylor is the subject of Ross Whitaker’s documentary Katie, which charts her comeback from her 2016 loss in Rio to conquering the world of professional women’s boxing.
International titles include the World Premiere of Behold My Heart, starring special guest Marisa Tomei, in which the Oscar® winner plays a woman who falls apart after the unexpected loss of her husband (Timothy Olyphant), and her teenaged son (Charlie Plummer) is forced to stomach his own grief and become the man of the house. Cola de Mono is an atmospheric Chilean thriller World Premiering at Galway, that mixes elements of Cruising and It Follows. Luxembourgian rural thriller Gutland, is the first feature drama from director Govinda Van Maele and stars Vicki Krieps fresh from her stunning turn in Phantom Thread earlier this year. And on the heels of her Un Certain Regard winning script for the film Border at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Isabella Eklof will present her debut feature Holiday, a hyper-masculine crime drama, deconstructed through Eklof’s lens. German director Wolfgang Fischer will present Styx, a triple-award winner at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, the film stars Susanne Wolff as a woman torn from her contented world during a sailing trip, when she becomes the only person to come to the aid of a group of refugees.
On the topic of refugees, Fitzgerald said that ‘Borders’ was a primary theme of the festival, citing films such as: The Reports on Sarah and Saleem, the sophomore feature from Palestinian filmmaker Muayad Alayan, who previously won at the Fleadh with his first feature Love, Theft and Other Entanglements; Daha, a Turkish coming-of-age tale about a boy being raised as a smuggler on the Aegan coast; Soufra, a feel-good documentary about a diverse group of women from a Lebanese refugee camp who start their own catering company; and Tourists, an experimental documentary that weaves holidaymakers’ own video footage into an absorbing human narrative.
In keeping with the border theme, this year’s country-in-focus at the Film Fleadh is the UK. Fitzgerald says, “With Brexit threatening to disrupt existing paradigms of European cinema, we’re taking a look at some of the best new UK fiction and documentary films, and welcoming a delegation of UK producers to the Galway Film Fair [the industry arm of the festival] to strengthen our spirit of cooperation, in the face of division and uncertainty.” Films playing as part of the focus include: the World Premiere of This Weekend Will Change Your Life, a ‘glamping psychodrama’ from Bob Mullan, director of last year’s Best International Film Award winner, Mad to be Normal; Postcards From the 48%, a documentary giving voice to the ‘remain’ segment of Britain’s electorate post-Brexit; and Obey, a tragic love story set against the backdrop of the 2014 London riots, which will be presented by actress T’Nia Miller.
Documentary fans will have tough choices to make when selecting from the Fleadh’s robust line-up, with plenty to prise you away from your Netflix. Irish docs selected include I, Dolours, the biopic of IRA activist Dolours Price, based on the infamous Boston Tapes interviews, which she recorded on the condition they only be released after her death; Lomax in Éirinn, a musical journey presented by Clannad’s Pól Brennan, exploring how American song collector Alan Lomax came to Ireland on a mission to save folk music; and A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot, debut director Sinéad O’Shea’s fly-on-the-wall documentary about a family living in post-conflict Northern Ireland. International docs include The Eyes of Orson Welles, Mark Cousins’ new perspective on the legendary director taken from his private collection of drawings and paintings; RBG, the fascinating and entertaining biopic of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and A Deal With the Universe, the incredible biopic of transgender, former BFI Flare programmer, Jason Barker and his partner’s attempts to conceive a child.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg for the Film Fleadh’s 107 feature films which have been neatly curated into a number of programme strands, including family films, comedy films, music documentaries, a late-night programme of genre cinema and a programme of Northern Irish documentaries to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The Film Fleadh also boasts fourteen programmes of short films, comprised of over 150 Irish and international shorts, including a daily retrospective of short films from the festival’s past 30 years of award winners. The retrospective includes early works from directors Lenny Abrahamson (3 Joes), Nora Twomey (From Darkness) and many more.
Rounding out the premieres and Q+A’s are a range of event screenings, panel discussions and public interviews. Event screenings include an archival shorts programme to be screened in Thoor Ballylee. The IFI Archive programme celebrates the life and legacy of Lady Augusta Gregory and screens in the former home of her great friend, W.B. Yeats. Topics for this year’s discussions include Accelerating Gender Equality: Time for Quotas?, a debate on whether quotas are an effective way to accelerate change and their suitability to the Irish industry. And among the public interviews will be a conversation with superstar Irish film producers Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, the pair behind such award winning films as The Magdalene Sisters, Adam and Paul, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and the Oscar® winning Room. For their contribution to Irish cinema, Guiney and Lowe will be presented with the festival’s outstanding achievement award, the Galway Hooker, at the Closing Night Award Ceremony on Sunday 15th July.
Relating a story of his own first experience of the Galway Film Fleadh in 2008, Fitzgerald said, “I know that if you are here tonight, then you too have a story like mine. The Film Fleadh is more than the sum of its 30 years. Its 100,000 stories about worlds discovered on screen, about friendships made, heroes met, collaborations born, careers started, treaties signed, and memories made.”
The 30th Galway Film Fleadh takes place from 10th – 15th July in the Town Hall Theatre and Pálás a new three screen arthouse cinema and cultural space in the UNESCO city of film- Galway. Designed by Architect Tom de Paor, Pálás is a seven story co... More cinema, Galway.
Tickets and further information for all films and events are now available at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com.