The Galway Film Fleadh is Ireland’s leading film festival. It is an academy award qualifying event and has been running for 24 years. A few months ago, I got three badges to go to it for the work I do on their youth council. This year, almost two hundred films were screened in the form of features, documentaries, shorts, short-shorts and even one minute shorts. Most of these screenings run out of Galway’s Town Hall Theatre in Courthouse Square. Other screenings take place right beside it in the mobile cinema where screenings such as ‘the 30 minute film festival’ run.
Our day started out driving to the town hall theatre. Without a print-out Google map, it was very apparent that we wouldn’t find it on our first attempt; and wasn’t long before we were outside the building of Galway’s Fire Brigade asking for directions. Luckily, the guy we asked so happened to be Keith Walsh, the director of ‘Apples of the Golan’ a feature documentary showing at the Fleadh.
Keith was walking there so we gave him a lift and he showed us how to get there. When we arrived we went to the first screening and got our badges. The standard there was brilliant and all of the competition films were made by Irish filmmakers. Probably one of the best things about going to films at a festival is that you see actors and directors afterwards, in the cinema or at a cafe nearby.
These were some of my favourite films:
“A homeless man is in desperate need of change, but what are his intentions?”
Director: Jordan Ballantine. Producers: Jordan Ballantine, Patrick Murphy.
I wasn’t sure initially about this film as I thought the start was a bit longish, but it has a humorous twist at the end that I’m not going to give away. **** 4.5 stars.
The Court Astronomer
“This is a story of a Bishop’s cunning plot to murder a lowly, quiet astronomer who might just be smarter than him.”
Director: Alex Fegan.
This was probably my favourite film of drama programme 1. I was a bit apprehensive about it at the start, as I thought it was a bit dodgy making a period film. I felt it fell down in its at-times overwhelming score, but It developed into a very engaging and clever story with a great conclusion. **** 4.5 stars.
“Rhinos tells the story of young couple, Ingrid and Thomas, thrown together by circumstance, who despite a language barrier learn more about each other than they thought possible over the course of a few eventful hours.”
Director: Shimmy Marcus. Producers: Shimmy Marcus, Ciara Gillan.
This was probably my favourite of the screening. It ticked a lot of boxes that a great film should have; an interesting unpredictable plot, engaging natural actors, humour, drama, simplicity but also nice shots. I really liked this film and it was pure entertainment. **** 4.5 stars.
The nation held its breath
“Ireland v. Romania, 1990. Gerry’s TV breaks. His only hope is Mr Levey, an eccentric man who makes Gerry work for the privilege of viewing the match in his home.”
Director: Emmet Vincent. Producer: Andrew O’Leary.
This was probably the funniest film of both programmes. It had two well-cast actors who led us down a hilarious plot as the lead character Gerry(actor) has to literally dance, answer trivia and write poetry to see the Ireland v Romania match after his TV breaks. It had a setting that gave it great Irish cultural authenticity. **** 4 stars
“Dylan is a nine-year-old boy living with his mother, Rachel. When she brings her new man, Olu, into the house, Dylan takes matters into his own hands to get rid of this new intruder and claim back his house.”
Director: Hugh Noonan. Producer: Laurence Snashall.
I thought this was a very funny and thought provoking film. It had a great cast which included Robert Donnelly, who was also in one of the earlier shorts of the day, the court astronomer. Apart from some shaky walking backwards shots at the start it was very well made and was very well produced. I liked the characterisation and the cast seemed very real. **** 4 stars.
The Galway Film Fleadh also runs a festival for called ‘The Junior Film Fleadh’ every November, where young people can have their short films screened in the town hall theatre. First prize in this category is getting automatically selected into the main Fleadh the following July. For more information on this you can firstname.lastname@example.org for an entry form.