The 25th Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July, 2013)
The Galway Film Fleadh, which kicks off today, celebrates its 25th anniversary and if this year’s line-up is anything to go by there’ll be many more anniversaries to come. The first Film Fleadh opened on 19th July 1989 and ran for five days. Its opening screening featured Venus Peter, the last film to feature the late Ray McAnally, directed by Ian Seller.
Miriam Allen, Managing Director of the Galway Film Fleadh, recalls how it all started in 1998 when the world premiere of Reefer and the Model was held during the Galway Arts Festival. “Such was the response to that screening and to film being screened outside its general kind of context that the Fleadh was born,” and it was headed by a management team that included Miriam herself plus Leila Doolan, Joe McMahon, Bob Quinn, Steve Woods and Bridie McMahon.
The Fleadh has a tremendous history, has welcomed some great filmmakers to the city over the years and treated audiences to some memorable premieres of Irish film and filmmaking talent. Among Miriam’s favourite memories are “when we had the screening of Adam & Paul. That was incredible. Similarly with Once’s premiere at Galway. That was such a special film – we viewed that on a laptop – a rough cut DVD and the reaction was fantastic. You remember such great moments.”
This year is no different – with so many Irish films set to premiere in the New Irish Cinema programme, plus an abundance of Irish documentaries, an extensive Irish shorts programme and Irish animation, the festival maintains its reputation as a hub of Irish film.
Miriam reflects that “When we started back in an 1989, there was no Film Board, but there were people making film – Bob Quinn, Joe Comerford, Cathal Black, Thaddeus O’Sullivan, and there was the college out in Rathmines and Dun Laoghaire producing shorts. But there was no platform really for their work to be viewed – and that was definitely a space we were hoping to create. We have maintained that right through the 25 years of the Fleadh – that we would be the first port of call for Irish filmmakers to have their worked viewed by a general cinemagoing audience plus their contemporaries and peers.”
The Fleadh has always had a reputation of being an inclusive festival with an emphasis on fun. Something Miriam is proud of. “Everyone is together. We do try not to have an ‘us and them’. Filmmakers interact with filmgoers, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for all sorts of people to meet in an informal environment. It’s a great vibe. There’s a real sense of community over the 6 days.”
Long may it continue. Check out this year’s programme here at http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/index.php