Report: Galway Film Fleadh 2013

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Matt Miccuci looks back over his 7 days following Irish film in the sweltering heat of Galway for the Fleadh’s 25th anniversary.

“We borrowed the weather from Cannes,” was this year’s joke at the Fleadh.

Indeed, this could easily be remembered as the ‘hottest’  edition of the festival on account of the weather alone. It was hot, very hot, and the unventilated Town Hall Theatre often felt like one big oven. Yet, the programme was too stimulating to give into the call of the beach and strange urges to build a sand castle.

Of course, the people who decided to spend the hottest days Galway has possibly ever seen locked in a theatre were widely rewarded. Just like every year since its birth twenty-five years ago, the festival showcased some of the best home-grown productions today which in turn represented the good health and ambition of Irish cinema.

Things kicked off to a crowd pleasing start with Roger Gual’s Tasting Menu, a very charming comedy of errors telling the story of intertwining lives at the closing night of a Catalonian restaurant, regarded as the best restaurant in the world. Its theatrical approach aided by a good pace and great timing recalled the works of great names from Robert Altman to none other than William Shakespeare! Just as impressively, it closed with the introverted and reflective drama The Sea, in which director Stephen Brown skilfully made the task of turning the famous John Banville novel based on memory and regret look easy in a compact production complete with refined visual touches and compellingly withdrawn performances by Ciarán Hinds and Charlotte Rampling.

There were many different stories told and a wide assortment of styles and genres presented, but the recession inevitably came out as the prevailing theme. Two films in particular, though very different, represented it directly.

Lance Daly’s Life’s a Breeze, billed as a feelgood recession comedy, saw the return of the working class comedy à la Ealing Studios of Passport to Pimlico. This film is quite entertaining and commercially appealing – this is also the reason why it will probably be among the most successful films shown at the Fleadh during its domestic cinema run.

Alternatively, Out of Here used a much more direct and though-provoking approach to capture the essence of the everyday urban monotony and frustration of the life of a young Dubliner. Donal Foreman’s film is nothing short of praiseworthy for its passive anger and realist approach, as well as a visual style that is beautiful in its simplicity. Foreman also represented the kind of independent filmmaking that Irish cinema should thrive on for the way in which he brought Out of Here together through crowd-funding but also through determination, passion and a will to go out there and really make it happen.

The influence of the recession in the new Irish films could also be seen by the vulnerability of a lot of the lead characters, particularly the male characters. In fact, many aspects of masculinity were revealed in original ways. An excellent example is found in Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s hypnotic modern noir Mister John with its wonderfully unconventional character study of a man – played by Aiden Gillen in what is hands down one of this year’s most enchanting and haunting performances – whose troubled family life and misery lead him to re-invent himself as his dead brother’s alter ego in Singapore. The film is driven by a unique brand of mystery, with a hypnotic flow and stunning 35mm photography that enrich the experience and take full advantage of the naturally sinister beauty of a humid Singapore.

Similarly, in the documentary Coming Home, Viko Nikci captures the life of Angel Cordero, a man incarcerated for thirteen years for a crime he did not commit and chooses to examine the man rather than the case by focusing on his struggles as he reconnects with the outside world and his estranged daughter. Nikci’s use of narrative filmmaking photography and Angel’s own genuine magnetism as well as a desire to open up to the camera eye made this film very popular and without a doubt the most touching film of this year’s Fleadh. Indeed Nikci’s film was justly rewarded at Galway, picking up the Best Irish Documentary prize at Sunday’s award ceremony.

One could even read a specific viewpoint on masculine stubbornness and how it threatened to end the world in the gripping documentary, Here Was Cuba by John Murray and Emer Reynolds. Muldowney’s beautifully bizarre Love Eternal, on the other hand, is about a necrophiliac – in fact it may well be the sweetest film that could possibly ever be made about necrophilia.

The horror genre was well represented with Rossella de Ventuo’s Irish Italian production House of Shadows, a film which carries many new ideas and a genuine dramatic depth – both things lacking in the vast majority of today’s horror films – as well as an absorbing performance by Fiona Glascott.

My greatest personal regret is that I didn’t get to see the best Irish feature prize by Academy Award nominee Steph Green Run & Jump, though the positive feedback it received will have me rushing to the cinema as soon as it hits the screens. I also regret missing films like Discoverdale and Hill Street. Yet, in the end it didn’t matter that much, as I felt highly rewarded for the time I dedicated to following this year’s festival and highly rewarded by the quality of the many premieres I attended. So, I think it’s fair to congratulate everyone involved on the organising team who was responsible for yet another exciting Fleadh. But maybe let’s get some air conditioning for the Town Hall Theatre for next year, yeah?

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‘Run & Jump’, ‘Coming Home’ and Saoirse Ronan triumph at the 25th Galway Film Fleadh Awards

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The 25th Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July, 2013)

After a week of Irish and international premieres, short films, documentaries, workshops and panels, the 25th Galway Film Fleadh came to a close with the annual awards ceremony. Taking place on Sunday 14th July before the closing film, The Sea, the awards were attended by international film stars Saoirse Ronan, Zachary Quinto, Fionnuala Flanagan and Will Forte, as well as the President of Ireland, Michael.D.Higgins.

Steph Green’s Run & Jump scooped the awards for Best Irish Feature and the Crowe Horwath Award for Best First Irish Feature. Steph Green’s feature debut after her short New Boy received an Oscar nomination, Run & Jump is an unconventional love story set in rural Ireland and stars Maxine Peake and Will Forte.

Other winners included Dead Cat Bounce’s comedy mockumentary, Discoverdale, which picked up Best International Feature. Viko Nikci’s documentary, Coming Home, which follows Angel Cordero, a man who has served 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, won both the Best Irish Feature Documentary Award and the Amnesty International Award for Best Human Rights Documentary.

President Higgins presented the special Galway Hooker Awards, which this year went to Miriam Allen, managing director and co-founder of the festival, James Morris, former chair of the Irish Film Board, and Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.

Click here for a list of all the winners at the 25th Galway Film Fleadh Awards.

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Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh preview: Discoverdale

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The 25th Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July, 2013)

Discoverdale

Friday, 12th July

Town Hall Theatre

23.00

On the back of an array of festival awards, Dead Cat Bounce’s comedy feature, Discoverdale, will rock up to the Galway Film Fleadh this Friday. Following an Irish band’s quest to reunite lead singer Jim with his long lost father, Whitesnake’s frontman David Coverdale, the team followed the rock band on their live world tour, shooting guerrilla-style in Dublin, London, Oslo, Copenhagen and Thurles.

Having scooped multiple awards at festivals around the world, the director George Kane talked to Film Ireland about the film coming home. “When Dead Cat Bounce and I suddenly found ourselves chasing Whitesnake around Scandinavia, we didn’t necessarily expect to come out the other end with a feature film – let alone one that would win awards and have an Irish premiere in the Fleadh. We’re unbelievably excited and honoured to screen it for a home crowd at such a great festival.”

A fly on the wall mockumentary, in the vein of Anvil and Spinal Tap, Discoverdale follows Dead Cat Bounce, a cult Irish comedy rock band, across Europe in pursuit of the legendary Deep Purple and Whitesnake rock god. With no money, contacts and absolutely no idea what they’re doing the Irish lads blag their way into countries, gigs and back stage to get Jim one step closer to a reunion with his long lost father.

Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie.

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Dead Cat Bounce mock-documentary to premiere at Galway

DISCOVERDALE - generic landscape poster 72dpi (Film Ireland Web)

 

Discoverdale, the multi-award winning film debut of Irish comedy rock band Dead Cat Bounce, will be making its Irish Premiere at the 25th Galway Film Fleadh on Friday July 12th. The band will be also be performing at the Film Fleadh party on July 13th.

The fly-on-the-wall mock-documentary follows band members James Walmsley, Shane O’Brien and Damo Fox on a desperate quest across Europe to reunite lead singer Jim with his long lost father, who he believes is the legendary rock singer and Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale. Crossing Ireland, England, Norway & Denmark the penniless band follow the Whitesnake Forevermore tour across Europe, busking the streets of Scandinavia to pay their way.

Directed by George Kane (BBC NI’s Sketchy, BBC3’s Live at the Electric) and produced by James Dean and Chris Carey (Sky Atlantic’s This Is Jinsy, BBC’s Dirk Gently), the film has already picked up five awards on the international festival circuit, including “Best Of The Fest” at the LA Comedy Festival, “Best Narrative Feature” at New York’s Friars Club Comedy Film Fest and “Best Director” at Edinburgh’s Bootleg Film Fest. Its London premiere takes place at the East End Film Festival on July 6th.

Largely improvised, the project was conceived, written, funded and prepped in a ten day period – just in time to begin chasing the Scandinavian leg of Whitesnake’s world tour. David Coverdale and his band were oblivious to the guerrilla film-makers until Dead Cat Bounce’s shameless attempts to confront Coverdale brought them to the attention of Whitesnake’s security team. Eventually, Coverdale and his camp realised what was happening and fully embraced the project. David Coverdale has since endorsed Discoverdale, describing it as “a funny, sweet, laugh-out-loud flick”.

Formed in 2008, Dead Cat Bounce have played the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Sydney Comedy Festival, where they won the Time Out Jury Prize in 2010 and the People’s Choice Award in 2011. Appearing regularly on RTE’s “Republic Of Telly”, the video for their song “Rubgy” has over 1.1 million hits on YouTube and Time Out Syndey has described them as “one of the funniest damn acts on the planet.”

 

 

 

www.discoverdale.com

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