The inaugural Sky Road Film & TV Festival kicks off tomorrow in Clifden, Co. Galway. The three-day event promises to be a wonderful experience and chance to see a number of Irish feature films, shorts, documentaries and TV in a unique setting. Here’s what to watch out for on Day 1 of the festival!

Day one begins at 10am with the feature documentary Donegal’s Tunnel Tigers. The film, from director Neal Boyle, tells the story of the titular Tunnel Tigers, the men of Donegal who generation after generation flocked to build road and rail tunnels, and to tunnel out mines in Britain. This promises to be an emotional and worthwhile experience.

Straight after that at 11am is an early highlight, Michael McCudden’s Sodium Party. The film premiered at last year’s IndieCork where it was very well received, so Sky Road will be a chance for a west of Ireland audience to get in on the action. Sodium Party follows Claire, played by Slaine Kelly, a young girl whose childhood was sheltered by a controlling mother, and who enters a completely new and unexpected life when she leaves for college. Shot in 17 days on an extremely tight budget the film is a great example of just what can be achieved if you’ve a vision and a will.

At 1pm comes the first of the TV series, with the airing of one of the four-part documentary series Ireland’s Ocean. The show is an ocean wildlife series commissioned and broadcast by RTÉ, that explores the wonderful and diverse creatures that live in the seas around Ireland. This is sure to look spectacular on a big screen.

Back to back feature documentaries take us from a quarter to two until to four with Des Kilbane’s Croi Trodach (A Fighting Heart), and Vincent McEntee, Larry Mulligan, and Kevin McHugh’s Endure taking the spotlight. The former is the story of Irish American Johnny Kilbane; Cleveland-born boxer, poet, entrepreneur, politician, and the longest reigning World Featherweight Champion of all time. The latter is the tale of an epic challenge two young men embarked on to cycle 26,000km across 27 countries on 5 continents in 11 months.

4pm sees the festival screen its first set of short documentaries, featuring Catherine McGrath and Joske Slabbers’ Kinds of Blue, Keith Walsh’s Analogue People in a Digital Age, and Tomás Madden’s Bone. The first is a very timely, and very important look at the lives of two young people living with depression. The second focuses on 8 men of an older generation attempting to come to terms with the switchover from analogue to digital, while talking in a pub. And the third sees a young artist, reviving an ancient tradition, by giving life to unwanted organic material.

45 minutes later and we’re into the first set of fictional shorts. This set is comprised of seven films including the beautiful and moving I’ve Been a Sweeper, and The Weather Report, winner of the 2013 GFC/RTÉ Short Film Award. Having been privileged to have seen I’ve Been a Sweeper we can attest to its quality, and we’ve heard nothing but good things about The Weather Report. Other shorts in the strand are The Abandoning, Perfect Wife/Perfect Life, #NoFilter, The Swing, and I Mean it was Hoppin’.

Six o’clock brings the fourth feature documentary of the day, Sinead O’ Brien’s Torthaí Na Daoirse (Blood Fruit). This documentary takes a look at the actions taken by a group of Dunnes Stores workers who refused to register the sale of two Outspan grapefruits under a directive from her union in support of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

The first day closes in magnificent style, with the screening of Garret Daly and Martina McGlynn’s A Nightingale Falling. This beautiful looking and superbly acted drama, which is set in Ireland during the War of Independence, sees two sisters’ lives changed forever when they take a wounded British soldier in their care. What follows is an emotional journey of love, loss, and jealously, set against an expertly crafted period backdrop. We cannot recommend seeing this independently financed film enough.

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