In a brilliant coup for the country and for the city, Galway has joined UNESCO’s Creative Cities network as a City of Film, in recognition of its proud cinematic landscape.

The city becomes one of five officially recognised City of Film following last night’s announcement by Unesco director-general Irina Bokova in Paris, joining the UK city of Bradford, and Sydney, as well as the newly announced cities of Sofia and Busan. Sixty-three cities worldwide had been shortlisted for the designation.

In order to qualify the city underwent a rigorous application process, that began in 2012, with the final submission in March 2014. The process was spearheaded by Galway Film Centre manager Declan Gibbons, film-maker Lelia Doolan of the Picture Palace and Dr Jenny Dagg of NUI Galway,  with backing from the Irish Film Board. More than 50 organisations were involved in the Galway bid.

Commenting on the news Bill O’Herlihy, Chairman, Bord Scannán hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said “This is a major international achievement not just for Galway, but for the country. Film has always run through the veins of Galway, and holds a strong cultural, artistic and economic value. I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Galway City and County Councils together with all of those working in the film and television community in Galway City and County, and to applaud their contribution.  The appointment of Galway as a permanent UNESCO City of Film is recognition of the value of Irish filmmakers – directors, writers, producers, the Galway Film Centre, the Galway Film Fleadh, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and TG4 to the cultural fabric of Galway.”?

A UNESCO City of Film must have important infrastructure related to cinema, e.g. film studios, film landscapes/environments; continuous or proven links to the production, distribution and commercialisation of films; experience in hosting film festivals, screenings and other film-related events; collaborative initiatives at a local, regional and international level; film heritage in the form of archives, museums, private collections and/or film institutes; filmmaking schools and training centres; made an effort in disseminating films produced and/or directed locally or nationally; and initiatives to encourage knowledge-sharing on foreign films. These are all criteria that Galway meets and surpasses.

Galway is aiming next to become European capital of culture in 2020, and this should give that campaign a major shot in the arm.

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