8 Irish Film Festivals Sign Pledge for Gender Parity and Inclusion

Women in Film and Television Ireland (wft.ie) a chapter of Women in Film and Television International, has announced that to date 8 Irish Film festivals have accepted their invitation to sign up to the 5050×2020 Gender Parity and Inclusion Pledge which was launched by Cannes Festival chiefs at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

These are: Animation Dingle, Cork Film Festival, Dublin Feminist Film Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, GAZE LGBT Film Festival, Kerry Film Festival, Still Voices Short Film Festival and Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.
Founded in 2003, the Dublin International Film Festival sets the agenda of the year with its programme of outstanding Irish and international film.

The official Irish festival signing was held yesterday at The Lighthouse Cinema with John Rice (Co-Founder & Director Animation Dingle), Aoife O’Toole (Director Dublin Feminist Film Festival), Fiona Clark (Producer & CEO Cork Film Festival), Ronan O’ Toole (Director Still Voices Short Film Festival) and Gráinne Humphreys (Festival Director Dublin International Film Festival) in attendance alongside Dr. Susan Liddy, (Chair of Women in Film & Television Ireland).

 

Dr Susan Liddy Chair of Women in Film and Television Ireland, Fiona Clark Producer & CEO Cork Film Festival, Aoife O’ Toole Director Dublin Feminist Film Festival, Grainne Humphreys Festival Director Dublin International Film Festival, John Rice Founder Animation Dingle and Ronan O Toole Director Still Voices Short Film Festival. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

It’s heartening that so many Irish film festivals have joined forces with us to formally commit to the principle of gender parity and inclusion in festivals. We warmly welcome their enthusiasm and solidarity and we hope this initiative will mark the beginning of a supportive partnership between us. We need more women in the film industry at every level. While girls’ and women’s voices are not heard and their stories are not told, our culture is the poorer for it. Film festivals are a hugely important part of any conversation about equality. They are an important link in the journey of a film and filmmaker. This is why we need greater transparency about what films are submitted, what films are selected and who is making the decisions. As with anything, information must be the starting point and we commend these festivals for agreeing to track that. This is an initiative that WFT Ireland will be building on over the coming months and we call on other festivals to join with us and embrace the challenge.
Dr. Susan Liddy, Chair – Women in Film & Television Ireland

Initiated by the 5050 Pour 2020 Collective, a charter was signed in 2018 by Cannes’ festival chiefs to work towards gender parity and inclusion.

The charter invites film festivals across the world to make the following commitment to gender parity and inclusion:

  • To compile statistics of gender of the directors of all the films submitted to selection (and when possible, to also compile statistics of the cast and crew when mentioned in the registration process).
  • To make public the gender of the members of selection committees, programmers and programming consultants.
    To make public the gender of executive boards and/or boards of directors and/or to commit to a schedule to achieve parity in these bodies.
    All Irish festival signatories have committed to giving a full update to Women in Film & Television Ireland, who will make public their progress during their respective 2020 festivals.
  • Women in Film & Television Ireland will also update the 5050 Pour 2020 Collective about the new signatories in time for the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

As Ireland’s first and largest film festival, Cork Film Festival (CFF) is pleased to join WFTV in partnering with the 5050×2020 Cannes Collective to pledge our commitment to the 5050×2020 Charter, alongside the first Irish signatories. CFF supports increased transparency and gender-focused change across the Irish film landscape. CFF actively advocates for equality and inclusion in our industry by creating opportunities for meaningful public and sector dialogue as part of the Festival and by monitoring gender parity across our programme, submissions, jurors, panelists, programmers, staff, Board and volunteers.

The 63rd edition of the Festival in 2018 demonstrated that the Festival is actively making steps towards achieving its gender parity commitment. For example, 42% of our Shorts Programme was directed, co-directed and/or produced by women and 72% of our award-winning films were directed, co-directed and/or produced by women, with 47% female awards jurors. While this demonstrates CFF’s commitment to achieving greater representation for women in our programme, we recognise the need to focus our collective energy on advocating for gender equality in the sector. We welcome the opportunity to participate in the 5050×2020 Cannes Collective to strive for equal representation for women’s voices in film.
Fiona Clark, Producer & CEO – Cork Film Festival

Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival is proud to be part of the first group of signatories to the 5050×2020 Charter. The festival puts the films and filmmakers at its heart and understands the importance of nurturing new and experienced talent alike.

In 2019, of the over 100 feature length films screened at the festival, we are glad to say that 59% had women producers and 30% were produced by people of colour. However, the Festival is not complacent about its progress to date, and recognises that there is more work to be done to achieve diversity in all of its activities.

This partnership between the festival, WIFT and Cannes is another important step in proactively changing the power dynamics and creative output of the Irish film industry for the better.
Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director – Dublin International Film Festival

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Call For: Feature Film Submissions for the 31st Galway Film Fleadh

Feature film submissions are now open for the 31st Galway Film Fleadh, taking place between  9th–14th July, 2019.

The Film Fleadh is Ireland’s leading film festival, known internationally as the discovery place of New Irish Cinema, and host to the boldest new films from around the world each July. The Film Fleadh is also host to the Galway Film Fair, Ireland’s only film marketplace.

 

Are you a filmmaker with a work-in-progress or completed work, ready to debut in 2019? Why premiere your film at another film festival, when you could premiere at the world’s only Film Fleadh?

 

The Galway Film Fleadh awards feature films selected for competition in the following categories:

  • Best Irish Debut Film
  • Best International Debut Film
  • Best Irish Film
  • Best International Film
  • Best Irish Documentary
  • Best International Documentary
  • Best Cinematography in an Irish Film

 

Winners in recent years include The Dig,KatieGutland,Michael Inside, God’s Own Country, Sanctuary, A Date for Mad MaryandThe Young Offenders, among others.

 

Early bird deadline: Friday January 18th, 2019 at 5p.m. G.M.T.

Early Bird entry fees are at a discounted rate of €30.

 

After the Early Bird Deadline, the fee will increase to the Regular price of €40.

Regular deadline: Friday March 15th, 2019 at 5p.m. G.M.T.

 

Further information and the link to submit via Eventival can be found at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com

 

 

 

http://filmireland.net/2018/11/30/festivals-funding-schemes-deadlines-2015/

 

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Martin Beirne: Writer/Director of ‘Around Here’

Martin Beirne tells Film Ireland about writing and directing his debut feature, a rural coming-of-age drama in which Michael Murray faces down school bullies, isolation and a dysfunctional family to find community, love and confidence.

 

The feature film Around Here, previously called Seize, was written over three years, from 2007 to 2010. There was a four-year pause before I was able to bring this dream project into reality.  In 2014, the screenplay was brought out again and I began editing it.  Then in late 2016, I began shooting the film. They say it takes time to make a feature and this certainly has been the case with Around Here. Writing the script was a real joy for me. I had intentionally organised my schedule where I would work three days a week in a regular job and spend two days thinking and writing. During this time, I would often think of my teenage years growing up in rural Ireland. This became the catalyse for the film.

 

I have always been interested in marginalised people, who, for one reason or another, found themselves to be the butt of jokes or worse. The desperate need to fit in or even be popular and simultaneously the importance of not becoming the target were memories seared into my mind. Around Here enters this world and ponders a narrative as to why or how someone may get unwanted attention and how this may affect them in their private and public lives. How does the private world affect the public? Rural Ireland is plagued by suicide, and this is a theme that I touch upon. However, the film isn’t just about that. It is about being trapped. It is about getting out from under whatever you are under. It is also about a young man or a young woman realising they have an equal chance at life no matter what their circumstances are.

 

Armed with only the script, I naively set out to tell the story through the medium of film. My journey began by placing an advert on a Facebook film network site. Soon enough replies came in and I eventually built a crew from there. With film locations, I knew pretty much what locations I needed, so I would spend most of my weekends scouting places. Eventually, I contacted Film Offaly, who made this job much easier than I had been making it. From here, I found GAA grounds, a farm, a church, etc. Next came casting. That too proved a slog, but bit by bit I found the characters I was searching for. I think being on intimate terms with the script made my search for actors much easier.

 

After one false start, the shoot began in mid-October 2016. We were blessed with good weather. We received a very warm welcome and support from the Village of Kinnity, Offaly and the local people, including the local GAA. One family literally provided all the facilities they had and, for this support, I will remain grateful indefinitely. Film truly is a collaboration. Since I had never met most of the crew prior to the shoot, this created both an exciting and a challenging experience. The crew and cast shone through and only for their professional manner, nothing would have been possible.

 

In post-production – and now in a good deal of debt! – the push was on to edit and complete. It took a further 12 months to get to a rough cut. At this point my spirits were low. I didn’t get everything I had sought to shoot and now I was plagued with gaps in the film. I sought further support, and this came in the form of a very experienced producer. We spent a good deal of time analysing what I had and eventually the story structure came together.

 

Being accepted into the Galway Film Festival had been a dream. Now it is a reality and a privilege. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity that has been extended. I believe the Fleadh has shown great courage in accepting this film, especially since up until making Around Here I had zero experience in any type of filmmaking. All the credit goes to cast, crew, pre and post-production personnel, and true friends who supported when it was needed most – you know who you are. There are far too many to mention individually and not fair to single any out. I feel blessed and only hope the film may touch someone, even if it is just one person, that alone would define true success for me.

 

Around Here screens on Friday, 13th July at the Town Hall Theatre @ 16:00 as part of the 2018 Galway Film Fleadh (10 – 15 July)

 

 

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway

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Call For: Submissions for Galway Film Fleadh

The festival is Ireland’s leading film event, known internationally as the discovery place of New Irish Cinema, and home to the Galway Film Fair, Ireland’s only film marketplace.

The Galway Film Fleadh awards feature films selected for competition in the following categories:

  • Best Irish Debut Film
  • Best International Debut Film
  • Best Irish Film
  • Best International Film
  • Best Irish Documentary
  • Best International Documentary
  • Best Cinematography in an Irish Film

Winners in recent years include Michael Inside, Sanctuary, A Date for Mad Mary, Young OffendersOlder than Ireland and Song of the Sea, among others.

The deadline for Early Bird submissions is 26th February 2018. Early Bird entry fees are at a discounted rate of €30. After the Early Bird Deadline, the fee will increase to the Regular price of €40.The Regular deadline for submissions is Friday, March 30th, 2018.

Further information and the link to submit via Eventival can be found at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com

Welcome to the Galway Film Fleadh – Galway Film Fleadh

www.galwayfilmfleadh.com

30th Galway Film Fleadh | Tuesday 10th – Sunday 15th, July 2018


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http://filmireland.net/2018/01/05/festivals-funding-schemes-deadlines-2015/

 

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Galway Film Fleadh Celebrates 30 Years

Every July, the international film world descends on the West of Ireland, for a cherished event: an intimate and informal festival of cinema in Galway, uniquely named the Film Fleadh. The Galway Film Fleadh has no red carpets and no VIP parties. Luminaries of the craft and everyday cinephiles, from all around the globe and from every cultural background, come together to share in the delight of upcoming indie surprises and timeless classics of all types and genres.

Visiting luminaries have included Peter O’Toole, Martin Sheen, Maureen O’Hara, Paul Schrader, Kathy Bates,Agnieszka HollandGillo Pontecorvo, Jessica Lange, Michael Winterbottom, Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan, Mira Nair and Abbas Kiarostami.

While modern masters such as Woody Harrelson, Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Zachary Quinto, Isabelle Huppert, Lee Unkrich, Domhnall Glesson, Kirsten Smith and Stanley Tucci have also enjoyed the rugged beauty and warm hospitality of both the Film Fleadh and the West of Ireland.

 But that is to name just a few, and just one aspect of the Film Fleadh, which is an all around filmic experience, including experiential screenings, masterclasses, Q+As, debates, the UK and Ireland’s longest running film market, an annual ‘state of the industry’ conference, panel talks and film parties.

 The Galway Film Fleadh began in 1989, borne out of frustration at the lack of opportunity for Irish filmmakers to exhibit their work to their peers. At the time there was no Irish Film Board, no real industry and nowhere for the few pioneering filmmakers to screen their work. Through the determination of a few, working with what facilities were available, the first Film Fleadh was a (relative) massive success as a platform for Irish cinema and a showcase of the best in global art cinema, unavailable to most people on the island of Ireland.

In the proceeding thirty years, the Film Fleadh’s indelible charm would develop from a much loved domestic event, to the best known secret gem among European and Hollywood peers who had come to know and love the festival. For the past number of years, the secret has been out, and the Film Fleadh has swelled beyond capacity, earning the nickname, the ‘Cannes-on-the-Corrib’ (named for the Corrib river which runs through Galway city).

The Film Fleadh is unquestionably the premier event for discovering new Irish film talent. Films like OnceAdam & Paul, Garage, The Guard, Good Vibrations, Man About Dog, Kisses, Kings, Intermission, The Canal, I Used to Live Here, My Name is Emily, Cardboard Gangsters and The Young Offenders all bowed at Galway. From there, these films launched onto the world stage, with the help of audience members and festival programmers visiting from Sundance, Toronto, Berlin, Cannes, Tribeca, SXSW and more.

For its 30th anniversary, the Galway Film Fleadh will be adding to its successful formula, with a bumper programme, a new state-of-the-art screening venue, and a slew of new Irish and international films for audiences to devour as part of this Film Feast (the literal translation of Film Fleadh).

 With details of the 30th Galway Film Fleadh’s films, guests and events yet to be announced, visitwww.galwayfilmfleadh.com, where you can subscribe to the Film Fleadh newsletter and be the first to hear about news and ticket sales.

The 30th Galway Film Fleadh takes place from 10th  – 15th July, 2018.

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh: The Silver Branch

Ruth McNally ponders Katrina Costello’s philosophical vision-poem.

 

Katrina Costello’s The Silver Branch is a documentary that tells the story of Patrick McCormack, a farmer and poet whose family have lived in the Burren for generations. The film explores his relationship with the Burren; its nature, history and the struggle to preserve it. The world premiere was screened in the Cinemobile on Friday night. With the rain battering outside, the crowd piled into this quiet space to escape the elements and instead be transported to the wild west at its best.

Though director Katrina Costello and Patrick McCormack were at the screening, the introduction was handed over to Film Fleadh founder Lelia Doolan, for whom the film also had particular significance. Lelia was part of the Burren Action Group and one of the seven Plaintiffs in the court case featured in the film. The case was fought for over ten years against the Government’s Office of Public Works (OPW), to halt the building of a large tourism-targeted centre at Mullaghmore in the heart of the Burren National Park. It took a toll on the Group, both financially and personally, and caused a lasting divide in the local community. Doolan said the process was “exhausting, demanding and terrifying”, but described it in the end as a labour of love.

The film’s great strengths are its endearing characters, poetic narration and sublime imagery. In order to give a background to the struggle that came from the case against the OPW, we must first see what the Group was fighting to preserve. In comes our narrator, Patrick McCormack, who is both naturally poetic and candid in his speech. He tells us of the generations of people who lived in the Burren; people who “had it all, just by being”. They had an intricate knowledge and respect for the land, as their livelihoods were dependent on it. McCormack and his friend and fellow farmer John Joe Conway keep up this old way of life; from rebuilding stone walls “that no one might see” to nurturing their livestock almost as if they were pets.  The friendship and common outlook of these two farmers bridges the obvious gap between generations; McCormack in his cowboy hat and leather jacket and John Joe in his gentlemanly overcoat. Their affection for the place is contagious, particularly McCormack’s, who attaches an almost spiritual sense of importance to it.

Watching the film is an immersive experience. As McCormack speaks meditatively of the effects that nature can have on a person, the cinematography works to draw you into the place. Alongside exhibiting the beauty and wildness of the Burren landscape, Costello has also captured incredible, intimate shots of Irish wildlife. We see such rare sights as birds of prey exchanging an animal mid-air, young fox cubs play-fighting and a small robin feeding a comically large cuckoo chick. We feel privy to a secret world, hidden behind the hedgerows and in the trees and reserved for those who take the time to sit and wait. We never leave the Burren during the film; there is enough drama in the nature there to reflect all aspects of the human experience.

There is a shift in tone as the film deals with the controversy surrounding the building of the interpretive centre and the subsequent court case. The centre was to provide a much-needed economic boost to the area, bringing hundreds of thousands more visitors a year and creating jobs for the younger generation. This was at a time when the OPW was not subject to planning laws and works commenced on building this large-scale centre and car park despite objections surrounding the impact it would have on the local environment. It was the site that was chosen for the centre – Mullaghmore – that caused McCormack and the other members of the Burren Action Group to decide to fight this seemingly inevitable development. Consequently they took a case against the OPW, arguing that government offices should be subject to the same planning laws as other bodies. While McCormack tells us of the difficulties and personal stresses of this period – from financial strain to loss of friendships – we are constantly drawn back to the bigger picture. He wants us to understand why this case was so important as to warrant the sacrifices that came with it. The film reminds us that for the group, there was something greater at risk of being lost.

In this age of convenience and rapid development, where oftentimes you would have to go to great lengths to find an area of pristine nature, The Silver Branch feels particularly relevant. It captures the sense of uncertainty that comes from being in a generation in which so much change has occurred; caught between nostalgia for the past and concern for the future. The film could be seen for the imagery of the Burren and its wildlife alone, however, McCormack’s poetry and the story give another context to the images; guiding us from meditative appreciation to solemn awareness of the place’s vulnerability. As McCormack at one point notes, the “grief within beauty”.

The film was five years in the making by director Katrina Costello and, as with the case taken by McCormack and the Burren Action Group members, it is a testament to patience, determination and love of a place.

 

 

The Silver Branch screened on Friday, 14th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11 – 16 July).

 

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh: Song of Granite

Deirdre de Grae sings along to Song of Granite, Pat Collins’ portrait of the life of the great traditional singer, Joe Heaney, which screened at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

Song of Granite, was the opening film at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. The film was introduced by the producer, Alan Maher (of Marcie Films), and the director, Pat Collins, who reminisced about his time as the Fleadh programmer in the 1990s. As this was the opening film, it screened to a full house, including cast and crew, as well as the featured musicians Lisa O’Neill and Damien Dempsey.

The black and white, lán Gaeilge, Song of Granite is a portrait of the sean-nós singer, Joe Heaney.  It is difficult to define the film, and perhaps there is no need to try to do so – to fit it into clearly labelled folders of ‘genre’ and ‘format’. But there is a human tendency to desire classification, and an unfortunate necessity for entering film festivals, marketing and distribution. Although it was in competition with the feature films in the Galway Film Fleadh, it could just as easily be labelled as a documentary.

The dramatic portions of the film could be termed reconstructions, common in drama-documentary. The film also incorporates archive film and audio footage, so in this way, it could be billed either as feature documentary or a feature film. The archive footage of Irish emigrants in Glasgow and the reconstructions of the lives of Irish-speaking men in the UK reminded me of two previous screenings: the documentary, Men of Arlington (dir. Enda Hughes) and the feature film, Kings (dir. Tom Collins). Both of these films address the lonely, lost lives of single Irish men who find themselves turning to drink while living in London. In Song of Granite, the images of sad urban lives in the UK contrasted with the freedom and open air of Connemara. There is a physical feeling of relief to get back to Connemara and breathe the open air again, after watching the pub interiors, and the UK.

The 13-year-old Colm Seoighe gave an impressive performance playing the young Joe Heaney, and reminded me of both a young Domhnall Gleeson and Cillian Murphy: Domhnall Gleeson in his colouring and his screen presence, and Cillian Murphy in his eyes and expression. Colm did not appear to be fazed by the camera and crew, perhaps due to the small crew size, but also likely a testament to the director’s skills in putting him at his ease. He is a fantastic young actor and I hope that he is encouraged to pursue acting as he gets older.

The most notable aspect of this film was the soundscape – the sound recording team and the sound editing team need to be commended. As is evidenced in Pat Collins’ previous film, Silence, sound is intrinsic to his work and sound design is key to Song of Granite also. There is a wealth of atmospheric and ambient sounds used, with the focus on the sea, nature and song – whereas dialogue is kept minimal. By suppressing the visual elements (dark scenes, suppression of light, monochrome), the senses are focussed on sound instead.

At the same time, this is a highly cinematic, photographic film, deservedly winning an award for cinematography at the Fleadh this year for Richard Kendrick. There is a dream-like quality to this film: it is beautifully shot, there is a wonderful atmosphere, it is restful – you can get carried along with the film with your imagination and drift away – however, there isn’t a narrative, in the traditional sense of a feature drama film. The viewer would nearly need to know the story of Joe Heaney before watching, to understand what’s going on. The reconstructions are particulate and bitty, they don’t string together in a narrative structure – they are isolated reconstructed dramatisations. If you are a person who likes to watch a film for story, this might frustrate you. However, for me, the impressive acting of Colm Seoighe, the beautiful cinematography and the wonderful soundscape made this an enjoyable experience, and rose above the lack of a traditional narrative structure.

While I imagine the previous screenings at Karlovy Vary and SXSW took on an ethnographic-cultural tone (for example, the filmmakers had to explain what sean-nós was in U.S. interviews), in Galway, there was very much a sense of the film ‘coming home’. The Irish language was not a barrier to this audience, comprising of the film crew, Connemara-based cast and a who’s-who of the film and television industry in the west – with whom the landscape and lives portrayed resonated. The crowd was very responsive to the traditional music ‘sessions’ on screen, and some older audience members around me sang along to ‘The Galway Shawl’, which was a very sweet moment. After one long sean-nós session, the cinema audience applauded along with the on-screen audience, as they felt intimate with the scene.

Pat Collins’ Song of Granite transcends genre and strict, static definitions. I hope that he, as an Irish auteur, will be included in the canon of Irish filmmakers, and to see his work in ‘Irish film’ courses across Ireland and internationally.
 
Song of Granite screened on Tuesday, 11th July 2017, as part of the Galway Film Fleadh (11 – 16 July).
 
Song of Granite will be released in Irish cinemas on 24th Nov 2017.
 

 

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts 7: IFB World Premiere Shorts

Deirdre de Grae finds a lot to admire at the Irish Film Board World Premiere Short Films programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The Galway Film Fleadh is an important platform for Irish short film. Hundreds of short filmmaking crews and cast attend the festival each year, helping to create the unique Fleadh buzz. There is a symbiotic relationship between festival and short film, if one portion is removed, the other will not thrive. The Irish Film Board had the Fleadh shorts equivalent of a ‘prime time’ slot – 12 noon on Saturday – and the atmosphere was phenomenal. The world premieres screened to a full house, including excited cast and crew of the short films. Although the IFB shorts premiere is always busy, this year seemed more popular than ever, with tickets selling out weeks before the screening date. Potential audience members crowded the steps and foyer of the Town Hall Theatre, hoping to acquire last-minute cancellation tickets for the sold-out programme. Those of us who were lucky enough to have a ticket were kept entertained for the packed programme: eleven shorts were shown, comprising six animations and five live-actions films. The short films screened were funded from three Irish Film Board schemes: Short Stories (live action or animation, max. budget of €20,000), Frameworks (animation only, max. budget of €46,000), and Focus Shorts (replacing the Signatures fund, max. budget of €50,000). This year, the theme given for the ‘Short Stories’ fund was ‘Tribes’ – filmmakers were asked to create films exploring the type of tribe that fascinated them the most. The short films were introduced by James Hickey, Chief Executive of the IFB, who later announced their commitment to supporting female writers and directors in the film industry – read more here

 

Although the shorts in this programme were impressive overall, two films stood out and lingered long after the screenings were over:  Time Traveller, written and directed by Steve Kenny, and Late Afternoon, written and directed by Louise Bagnall, which was awarded ‘Best Animated Sequence in a Short Film’.

Late Afternoon, written and directed by Louise Bagnall (an animator on Song of the Sea), captures some very honest moments and emotions that are familiar to anyone who has an elderly relative. In this way, although located in Ireland, the film is absolutely universal. In her film, Louise allows us an insight into the memories of an elderly lady, ‘Emily’, acted wonderfully by Fionnula Flanagan. She shows us those moments when an elderly person may forget their age and once again relive their younger days, which often happens in the days before passing away. The memories represented are the gleeful moments Emily spent as a young girl, playing on the shore, falling in love – and the audience is swept into this joy with her. These memories are counteracted by the sadness of her current relationship with her daughter, who she no longer recognises. Louise’s film is definitely a ‘tear-jerker’ – possibly the most moving film I had seen all week, and I regretted wearing mascara that day!

Late Afternoon was produced by Nuala González Blanco at Cartoon Saloon.

 

 

Time Traveller, the first film funded under the new ‘Focus Shorts’ Irish Film Board scheme, was written and directed by Steve Kenny.

This was the best acting performance of the festival so far, that I had seen, by Tom Doran playing ‘Martin’, a young traveller boy.  Although billed as starring the excellent and convincing Barry Ward, newcomer Tom Doran as Martin steals the show. Martin is obsessed with Back to the Future and has built an impressive DeLorean replica (for a small boy) using scraps and an old banger. There are some hilarious moments when Martin, armed with a hammer, whacks the car gleefully and very convincingly – I suspect young Tom enjoyed shooting those scenes. The comedic timing and visuals are excellent in Time Traveller, there seems to be the happy mixture of a good script, great cast and fantastic editing, all coming together to make a great short film.  A lot of praise is due to the editor, Colin Campbell, who also edited Michael Inside and The Young Offenders (for which he was nominated for an IFTA) as well as many short films. The film has some more serious moments, involving an eviction, and touching on the inevitability of change and leaving things behind in life.  In this way, the film is both heartbreaking and heart warming.

Time Traveller was produced by Forty Foot Pictures

Short films screened in this programme:

Macarooned (dir. Alan Short & Seamus Malone), Neon (dir. Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair), Where is Eva Hipsey (dir. Orla McHardy), An Island (dir. Rory Byrne), Nice Night for It (dir. Rachel Carey), Late Afternoon (dir. Louise Bagnall), A Different Kind of Day (dir. Maria Doyle Kennedy), Bellwether (dir. Caroline Campbell), Departure (dir. Aoife Doyle), Deposits (dir. Trevor Courtney), and Time Traveller (dir. Steve Kenny).

 

 

Awards:

Late Afternoon (dir. Louise Bagnall) won Best Animated Sequence in a Short Film. An Island (dir. Rory Byrne) won the James Horgan Award for Best Animation

 

 

 

New Irish Shorts 7: IFB World Premiere Shorts screened on Saturday, 15th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

 

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts 3

Deirdre de Grae picks out her highlights from the New Irish Shorts 3 programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The shorts programme was introduced by Eibh Collins, the Galway Film Fleadh shorts programmer, an enthusiastic supporter of short film in Ireland. The seven short films in this programme shared the theme of relationships and included films by established and debut filmmakers. This selection of shorts all had very high production values, demonstrating the impressive standard of new Irish filmmaking. Two of these stood out in terms of character, story, and professionalism: For You, directed by Brendan Canty, and Gustav, directed by Ken Williams and Denis Fitzpatrick.

For You (Brendan Canty)

Canty shows a clear filmmaking style and For You is a very mature short film, surprisingly his first of the format. He has extensive experience directing commercials and music videos, and was nominated for two MTV VMA awards in 2015, for Hozier’s Take me to Church. For You offers an intimate window into the life of a young woman living in high-rise Dublin flats, and her relationships with both her mother and boyfriend. The portrayal seems very realistic, with a mature, gentle performance from Gabby Murphy, balanced with Barry Keoghan’s undeniable, innate screen presence. Keoghan was shooting Dunkirk during the same time period, and For You was shot around his schedule. The shooting and editing style is reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s work, notably Fish Tank (which screened at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2009), and Red Road, also set in high-rise flats. But more than the technical decisions, the depth of character and honest performance of the young female lead is testament to Canty’s directorial instincts and skill. Perhaps due to Canty’s music video background, I found myself mentally re-playing (the accomplished) ‘Get Out’ video by Frightened Rabbit (dir. Greg Davenport), which is similarly focused on the emotional turmoil of young women in an urban landscape. This is a very professional production, using highly talented and experienced crew. I would hope that Brendan Canty will devote more of his time to filmmaking alongside his commercial work, and look forward to his future feature films, hopefully in the Fleadh in the next few years!

For You was produced by Hinterland films.

 

Gustav (Ken Williams)

Directed by Ken Williams and Denis Fitzpatrick, Gustav is a short comedy starring Seán T. O’Meallaigh, the premise of which centres around the notion of an ‘ear worm’-that phenomenon when a tune or song ‘gets stuck in your head’. The filmmakers have taken this notion literally, and in this short film, we realise that the composer Gustav Mahler has taken up residence in the lead character’s head. I had recently heard that an earworm is caused by not fully remembering the entire song and it can be ‘cured’ by listening to the whole song. The filmmakers played with the audience here and never played the end of the piece of music, even in the credits. I found this to be a very funny film, I am a music-earworm sufferer and could relate to the main character’s frustration. This is a laugh-out-loud, cleverly edited short. O’Meallaigh is perfectly cast and he is in his element playing this comedic role. As with all successful comedies, this film juggled the essentials of good editing and comedic timing with a sharp script.

Gustav was written by Ken Williams,  James Mather was DOP, Shane Callan was Editor. It was produced by Steven Daly of Brainstorm Productions.

Short films screened in this programme:

For You (dir. Brendan Canty), Gustav (dir. Ken Williams), Beside Himself (dir. Nick Rutter), Leap of Faith (dir. Mark Smyth), Peel (dir. Annika Cassidy), Seedling (dir. Stevie Russell), and Mum (dir. Anne-Marie O’Connor)

 

 

New Irish Shorts 3 screened on Thursday, 13th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Irish Short Film Review: Mum

 

Stephen Porzio takes a look at Mum, Anne Marie O’Connor’s film with a trans character at the heart of it, telling a universal story.

Mum, a short film which played at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh, is a tender meditation on both transgender issues and the process of aging. Co-written and directed by Anne Marie O’Connor (the creator of Sky 1’s Trollied), it stars Kate O’Donnell as Kate, a transgendered woman – estranged from her family – returning home after a four-year absence.

Upon arriving, she is shocked to see that the health of her mother (Margot Leiceister) has declined. Despite an underlying air of tension still remaining within the family – mainly from her father (Peaky Blinders’ Kenneth Colley) – Kate attempts to reconcile with her mum.

The short is handsomely mounted. The suburban setting provides the film with a surprising amount of beautiful imagery over the thirteen minute running time. Plus, O’Connor stages scenes in which the past briefly mingles with the present in a way which evokes the work of Terrence Malick on Tree of Life.

The performances are also impressive. Most of what we learn about the characters isn’t in the language but the way they speak and their body movements. Each actor manages to feel lived-in in their role, communicating information to the viewer subtly and effectively.

The message of Mum is a warm one – the idea that when people begin to process their mortality, they learn to put petty differences and feuds aside. Eventually, they come to understand what is truly important – family and love.

 

 

Mum screened on 13th July  2017as part of New Irish Shorts 3 at the Galway Film Fleadh.

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh: Pilgrimage

Niall Glynn goes on a journey to find meaning in Brendan Muldowney’s Pilgrimage,  which screened at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

Pilgrimage tells the story of a group of Irish monks in the early 13th century called upon by their Vatican superiors to escort a relic of religious significance (and possible supernatural ability) back to Rome to turn the tide of the failing crusades in the Middle-East. Their journey is fraught with peril due to both the perilous landscape and the brutal antagonistic forces in pursuit with Norman invaders and superstitious brutal native tribes to contend with.

Marvel alumni Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal lead a stellar cast alongside a fantastic selection of Irish talent, including John Lynch, Hugh O’ Conor and Rúaidhrí Conroy. Completing the ensemble is Hobbit star Richard Armitage, smouldering in his role as the vicious villain, delivering his occasionally hammy dialogue with relish. Holland reinforces his position as one of the most talented young actors of his generation as he brings an air of honest naivety to his character despite the occasional hiccup with his Irish accent.

Bernthal was wisely cast as a mute given the poor history of American actors struggling with the Irish accent (Back to the Future 3 remaining my favourite example of how not to handle this) and brings a rugged physicality to his performance due to his action experience. The Irish language is utilized brilliantly in immersing viewers in the world of ancient Ireland and the amazing landscapes give a true sense of the scale of the titular pilgrimage and of the bleakness of this world.

Despite this however, the action sequences are easily the weakest aspect of the film. The overuse of shaky cam techniques feels incongruous with the period setting and the rapid cutting makes the fighting difficult to follow at all. Prior to the screening Galway Film Fleadh programme director Gar O’ Brien enthusiastically told the audience to be prepared for extreme violence, yet Pilgrimage uses its gore sparingly with a particularly nasty torture scene working with the themes and narrative rather than for shock value.

The real strength of Pilgrimage is its exploration of its theme of faith in a seemingly uncaring world and its questioning the use of violence in the name of religion. It’s a shame that the decision to focus on action was made rather than keeping it a quieter more meditative experience but, despite this, Pilgrimage remains an incredibly solid film that will keep viewers gripped throughout.

 

Pilgrimage screened on Thursday, 13th July as part of the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh (11 – 16 July).

 

 

‘Pilgrimage’ Writer Jamie Hannigan & Director Brendan Muldowney

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts: Animation

Deirdre de Grae found a lot to love in the animated shorts programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The animated shorts programme is always a personal festival highlight of the Galway Film Fleadh, for me. It’s the ideal Sunday morning cure following a hectic week of film screenings and post-film partying – nerves are calmed and eyes are soothed during this perfectly-timetabled programme of Irish short animations. As usual, there was a large audience attendance, including cast and crew.

The competition for entry into the programme is typically tough, resulting in an excellent showcase of Irish animation. This year’s hopeful entrants were up against some well-funded and seasoned filmmakers, so to be selected for this programme is a prize in itself. Not as many student films were included as in previous years, and I missed their creativity and energy. The films curated included animated shorts from a current student and new graduate, as well as established industry professionals. Further animations were screened as part of the Irish Film Board’s showcase on Saturday 15th July 2017, and are reviewed as part of that programme.

The stand-out animated shorts from this programme are An Béal Bocht/The Poor Mouth (winner of Best First Short Animation and The Don Quijote Award for Best Animated Short Film), directed by Tom Collins, and ‘Sorry I Drowned‘, directed by David Habchy and Hussein Nakhal.

An Béal Bocht / The Poor Mouth (dir. Tom Collins), is an adaptation of the novel by Flann O’Brien (A.K.A. Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’ Nolan), of whom I am a huge fan. The absurdist, satirical comedy is realised incredibly well by the director, Tom Collins, and talented principal animator, John McCloskey. As with any favourite book adaptation, I was nervous to see if it matched my imagined world. However, I had no need for fear, and was delighted to see some hilarious elements retained, such as the never-ending rain, which sometimes seems an accurate portrayal of life in the west of Ireland. And I am happy to report that the pig fart jokes went down very well with the kids in the audience. The casting is particularly on-point, and I can imagine there was some fun in the sound recording booth with, for example, Bob Quinn as ‘The President’, Tommy Tiernan as ‘Ó Bánasa’, and Mícheál Ó Meallaigh as ‘the Drunken Pig’. The animated film was realised using the original Irish version of the novel and cleverly used Flann O’Brien’s own English translations for the subtitles, thus retaining the original wit.

The animation was a co-production of Raw Nerve Productions (Pearse Moore) and De Facto Films, and was animated at the Nerve Centre in Derry. It was funded by Northern Irish Screen (Irish Language Broadcast Fund), TG4 and the BAI.  The cast includes: Owen McDonnell ,Tommy Tiernan, Donncha Crowley, Bob Quinn, Seán Mistéal and Mícheál Ó Meallaigh.

Sorry I Drowned

Sorry I Drowned‘ (dir. David Habchy and Hussein Nakhal) is a monochrome animation, using Arabic voice recordings, inspired by a letter purportedly found on a drowned person fleeing war. The animation was commissioned by Medicins Sans Frontiers and produced by Studio Kawakeb, Lebanon.

The style and content are reminiscent of both Persepolis (black and white / female voice) and Waltz with Bashir (video footage / war themes). Visuals of pixellated, 1980’s computer-graphics delivered in stark monochrome, serve as the foreground to the Arabic words, spoken by a woman. Ideally, the eyes and mind could rest on the images while the words are spoken, but due to my lack of Arabic, I had to rely on the (too-small) subtitles, which distracted from the fast-moving visual images. It is a fantastic, moving animation, but was screened out of competition as it is not an Irish production.

Blackout

Dylan Nevin’s Blackout was the only student animation shown, and the team deserve kudos for that. This is a dystopian, futuristic, short animation from the perspective of an art student, who rebels. Dylan Nevin is studying animation with the Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE). His work can be seen at www.bcfe.ie

The Line

Dillon Brannick, A recent graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT),  directed ‘The Line’, which explores the dynamics between parent and child, during mourning. In his animation, the baby and father switch places, with the large adult-sized baby taking care of the tiny father.  The result is a gentle portrait of loss and grief. Dillon’s work can be seen at dillonbrannick.com

Wooden Child

Wooden Child, directed by Joe Loftus, is a disturbing examination of death, to a Country and Western soundtrack. Joe works as an animator at Boulder Media and is a graduate of the IADT animation degree programme. His work can be seen at  vimeo.com/joeloftus

 

Animated short films screened in this programme:

Wooden Child (dir. Joe Loftus), Coranna (dir. Steve Woods), The Line (dir. Dillon Brannick), Dreaming of Sleep (dir. Leon Butler), Blackout (dir. Dylan Nevin), Sorry I Drowned (dir. David Habchy & Hussein Nakhal), Cyber (dir. Diarmuid Hayes & Sarah Whicker), Tete a Tete (dir. Natasha Tonkin), An Béal Bocht/The Poor Mouth (dir. Tom Collins).

 

 

New Irish Shorts: Animation were screened on Sunday 16th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh: The Drummer And The Keeper

 

Stephen Burke tips his hi-hat to Nick Kelly’s debut feature film, The Drummer And The Keeper, which screened at the the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh.

Having sold out a week before its Friday evening screening at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh, it’s fair to say there was both excitement and expectation in the Town Hall Theatre ahead of the world premiere of Nick Kelly’s debut feature film – The Drummer And The Keeper. Not too long ago, it seemed that films exploring mental health issues were few and far between. Over the past few years though, they’ve almost become dangerously in vogue.

While it is, of course, important that these films are being made, they’re not of great value if the issues are not tackled accurately and appropriately. Not an easy thing to do. It’s even more difficult to make a film that handles the subject matter truthfully and sensitively while also being entertaining and containing moments of genuine humour. It’s a huge credit to Nick Kelly that The Drummer And The Keeper manages to do all of this successfully. The judges at the Fleadh seemed to think so too as the film scooped the award for Best Irish First Feature.

The main publicity photo released in advance of this screening was a striking image of a young man walking away from a burning vehicle. The film itself opens on an image which is just as striking – a close-up of the bare posterior of that same character. The character in question is Gabriel (played by Dermot Murphy), a 24 year-old bipolar rock drummer living in Dublin. He’s also experiencing psychotic and delusional episodes. When we first meet Gabriel, he is setting fire to a sofa on a beach sans his trousers. Setting fire to things is one of the many out-of-control activities that Gabriel seems to engage in when going through a manic period. We soon learn that his mother also suffered from the same condition and eventually took her own life. Gabriel’s only family of note is his sister Alice (Aoibhinn McGinnity). She’s worried that his life is spiraling out of control. His band mates Toss and Pearse (Peter Coonan and Charlie Kelly) do show a degree of concern regarding Gabriel’s well-being but they seem to be more anxious to ensure that his behavior doesn’t derail any opportunities the band may have at hitting the big time.

While Toss’ advice to “cut back on the booze and spliff” seems like a good starting point, Gabriel requires more stringent treatment. This is despite his insistence that “rock and roll is supposed to be out of control”. Medication is the order of the day and to combat the strong fatigue, which accompanies it as a side effect, Gabriel is instructed to partake in regular exercise and sent along to participate in a weekly game of football with a mixed ability group. This is where he encounters the goalkeeping-obsessed Christopher (Jacob McCarthy), a 17 year old with Asperger’s syndrome who is living in institutionalized accommodation.

After a rocky beginning, it’s not long before Christopher is showing up at Gabriel’s band’s gigs and slowly but surely a friendship and understanding develops between them. They may not have much in common but the mental health issues that each of them deal with allow them to identify and bond with one another more than either would have expected. As Kelly noted in the post screening Q & A – “When you have a moment of crisis, the people who are helpful to you are usually completely not the people who you thought were supposed to be helpful”.

With this type of film, it’s always going to be of the utmost importance that the audience finds the relationship between Gabriel and Christopher to be believable. Their friendship is the core of The Drummer and The Keeper. Due to an impressively crafted script (also written by director Kelly), the authenticity of this relationship never wavers or becomes forced. According to Kelly, a great deal of research into both conditions was carried out (all the extras featuring in scenes at the institute Christopher resides in are actually people who have autism) and this can be seen on the screen, both when Gabriel and Christopher interact with each other and with supporting characters. In the post-screening Q & A, there were several comments from mental health workers praising the film for its realistic depiction of both Bipolar disorder and Asperger’s. While Kelly was no doubt proud of the standing ovation the film received, comments like this may have meant even more to him.

Following the screening, Kelly explained that the casting process of the film took a long time. It’s unclear whether or not he was including the casting of Murphy and McCarthy in that statement. Both of them were inspired choices though. While Murphy and McCarthy have credits prior to this, they are still fresh faces on a cinema screen and The Drummer And The Keeper boasts what feel like star making turns from each of them. Both actors deserve all the plaudits they will undoubtedly get. Murphy is especially impressive and his Gabriel emotes as powerfully in the character’s quieter and more introspective moments as in his more explosive one’s. Little room is left to develop supporting characters and this is very much a film about the drummer and the keeper of the title. However, Gabriel and Christopher are such well written characters that few viewers are likely to complain that the central focus consistently remains on them.

Kelly’s directorial ability is extremely confident and one would be very hard-pressed to guess that this is his first feature. It certainly won’t be his last. There are a few parts of the film, particularly near the end, where it feels like credibility is being stretched but by then viewers are likely to be too engaged and invested in the characters to be put off. This is an impressive, moving and often funny debut feature that deserves to find a wide audience. As Kelly said afterwards, “Even if you aren’t currently mentally ill, I think, hopefully there’s something in it for you”. Recommended – An Irish film to be proud of.

 

The Drummer and The Keeper screened on Friday, 14th July as part of the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh (11 – 16 July).

 

 

 

 

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IFB Announce New Funding Initiatives for Female Writers and Directors

 

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) has announced a number of new funding initiatives at the Galway Film Fleadh specifically targeted at incentivising female writers, directors and producers, in order to directly increase female representation in the Irish film, television and animation industry

The IFB stated its intention in the 6-point plan to achieve 50/50 parity of funding within three years. However, the actual number of funding applications received by the IFB on an ongoing basis, with female writers and directors attached remains relatively low. Therefore, the IFB will roll out a number of funding initiatives focused on increased production and development funding for female led projects and a female focused low budget production funding initiative. These initiatives are aimed at incentivising female talent into the sector and encouraging Irish production companies through the provision of additional funding to develop Irish female talent.

Commenting on the new initiatives Dr Annie Doona, IFB Chair said “These initiatives represent the continued commitment of the IFB to achieving gender parity within the film, television and animation sector. We are of the view that whilst a lot of been achieved in developing the careers of female writers and directors, not enough has been achieved in relation to increasing the actual funding applications received by the IFB, with female talent attached. I believe these direct funding initiatives will incentivise an increased number of applications from female led talent and will support, empower and elevate Irish female talent working within the Industry. 50/50 parity of funding remains our goal.”

 

The new funding initiatives are:

 

➢ Low Budget Film Production & Training Scheme for female talent
In the coming months, BSÉ/IFB will launch a new low budget production programme aimed exclusively at emerging and established female Writers and Directors. Following tailored workshops, mentorship and training, talent will have the opportunity to apply for support to produce a feature film with a budget of up to €400,000 fully funded by BSÉ/IFB and S481.
 
➢ Enhanced Production Funding for female initiated and driven feature films
Increased support of up to €100,000 (subject to meeting BSÉ/IFB prescribed criteria) will be made available for projects under BSÉ/IFB’s Fiction: Irish Production funding for feature films that are creatively lead by an Irish female Writer(s), Director(s) or Writer/Director with effect from September 2017.

 

Across all other BSÉ/IFB funding schemes, including the BSÉ/IFB Short Film schemes, gender parity across all creative roles will be monitored and encouraged within any applications for support.
 
➢ Development Focus for female initiated feature films
The IFB has recently appointed a new team of project managers who have taken up their positions in the Production & Development team at the IFB. The team is currently reviewing the Screenplay Development scheme for writers, writing teams and writer and director teams, and amendments to the scheme will be announced shortly. As part of the planned amendments to this scheme, all efforts to ensure gender parity across funding awards will occur. In addition, the IFB plans to pilot one round annually available to female applicants only.

 

The team is also discussing the introduction of a supplemental funding award for feature films originated and written by Irish female writers with effect from September 2017.

 

In terms of BSÉ/IFB’s other development funding schemes gender parity across all creative roles will be monitored and encouraged within any applications for support.
 
➢ Establishment of the Gender Equality and Diversity Subcommittee
A new Gender Equality and Diversity Subcommittee will be appointed by the IFB board, who will consult with external bodies, will be introduced with effect from September 2017. The Subcommittee will establish ongoing policies and guidelines in relation to the application process and funding arrangements and will be responsible for their implementation and delivery.

 

➢ Promotion and dialogue focused on female talent
BSÉ/IFB will continue to monitor our progress on gender equality and to conduct our dialogue with the relevant stakeholders and partners including RTÉ, the BAI, SPI, Directors Guild, Writers Guild and Animation Ireland. Particular attention will be given over the coming period to dialogue with the major Irish production companies to discuss actions they could take to increase gender equality within the industry.

 

IFB will introduce a targeted strategy to promote female talent in the sector increasing their visibility, celebrating achievements, supporting their work and promoting gender equality widely to new and existing practitioners as well as the public.

http://www.irishfilmboard.ie/

➢ Note that comprehensive information on each of these Initiatives (the exact details of which are subject to change) will be announced in the coming months and will be made available on the IFB website.

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James Creedon, Director of ‘Thanks to Your Noble Shadow’

Director James Creedon talks about his film Thanks to Your Noble Shadow, the story of one of Ireland’s last missionary nuns, which premieres at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

What can you tell us about the film?
The film is a biographical and intimate portrayal of a woman who has just turned 100 and is reflecting back on a her epic life journey. Born in 1912, she grew up during the Irish Civi War in Cloughduv, West Cork. Her childhood was marked by this – she even heard the shots that killed Michael Collins with her own ears, just over the hills in Béal na Bláth. Educated by the Drishane Nuns (Infant Jesus Sisters) in Millstreet, her father subsequently pulled her out of the school out of fear she would join the order.

Jennie O’Sullivan – or Sr. Paschal, as she was to become known – had indeed developed an interest in becoming a missionary sister and Ireland being the deeply Catholic country it was at the time, she had begun to imagine a life elsewhere as part of that broader movement. Through guile and determination, she managed to return to Drishane on a retreat and from within the convent walls, she informed her family of her decision to join.

Some years later, she then had to say goodbye to her loved ones and her homeland for what she thought would be forever as she journeyed by boat to Japan, where the decision had been taken to send her.

The film charts the course of her life journey, the four camps she spent time in during World War 2, the culture shock she experienced arriving on the other side of the world with not a word of Japanese and how she navigated all of these challenges.

At 100 years of age, she recounts her memories with extraordinary energy, verve, joy and wit. Jennie was, above all, a committed and loving English teacher who built incredibly loving bonds with legions of Japanese women who went through her classrooms over seven decades. The film portrays the sense of deep gratitude that these women have for Jennie at the end of her life. It’s a story of love returned in gratitude by those who have been loved, as her life reaches its end. Jennie is a sublime example of unconditional love – every time I show the film, there are tears and there is laughter.

How did you originally get involved?
My grandmother had maintained close ties with Jennie down through the years by letter writing. I could not understand why Jennie had returned to Ireland after 75 years in Japan knowing that she had expressed a wish to live out her days there. While she was allowed to return on holidays to Ireland every few years from the 1960s onwards, she had left on the understanding she would never return and this “sacrifice” – as she understood it – was part of what had made sense of her decision to commit herself fully to her work as a missionary and an English teacher in Japan for the rest of her days. It simply was not part of her plan to come back to Ireland but that decision was essentially taken for her. As in the army or the diplomatic corps, missionary orders are hierarchical and “personnel” don’t decide where and when they are moved from one location to another.

I, however, found the decision to send such an elderly women home quite bizarre and I began to interview her. It turned into a year-long project of visiting her and filming her every time I returned to see my family in Cork (I have been living in Paris for 12 years now working as TV journalist at the France 24 international news channel). Jennie and I developed a really strong bond and began writing letters to each other. I then decided it was essential to travel to Japan with a message from Jennie that I would deliver to her loved ones and past pupils in a bid to close the circle and heal the suffering of her separation from her adopted homeland. I brought video messages back to Jennie after my trip to Japan and she witnessed one last time the huge love and gratitude felt by so many of those she had dedicated her life to. It was a massively gratifying and moving journey for me.

You must have been thrilled to have such an amazing story to tell.
I was intimidated by it in the beginning as I had never imagined that I would try to make a film. It was the strength of her story and the fact that she seemed to simply be in death’s waiting room with few taking notice of how extraordinary she was apart from those who knew and loved her that compelled me to up-skill fast and find a way of recording her memories before she passed on. What I was most impressed by was her energy and her memory and her ability to recount stories well. She was able to recite ‘Daffodils’ by Wordsworth in full from memory. She would sing ‘Danny Boy’ perfectly on note… Her storytelling and ability to entertain and be joyful at such a ripe old age was astounding.

What were Jennie’s abiding memories of Japan?
The relationships she had developed. I prompted her and pushed her a lot to talk about the major historical events she had lived through but in the end what rose to the surface every time was quite simply her almost zen-like presence and devotion to the moment and to human relationships. It made me reflect on the values she had lived by and it made me examine – as someone who is not a practicing Catholic – what it was about her values and how she encountered and merged those values with her host / adopted country that explained her vitality and vigour at 100 years old.

What did you yourself learn spending time with her?
I learned that to be giving and loving and joyful is the secret to happiness. It’s such an old adage but she seemed the living embodiment and proof that “in giving you receive”. It really is as simple as that. She radiated love, joy and happiness. Simply being in her presence was uplifting. She came along at a time in my life where I was searching for meaning and answers to some of life’s great questions and her simple presence seemed to answer those questions in a very simple way. I’m much more at peace with myself now than I was starting out in this project. Also, the doing of the project and the resources I had to draw on, the strength and courage I had to find to overcome the obstacles in my way helped me to become a more confident, happy person. My confidence grew because I had formulated a dream – to preserve her energy and her memory for transmission to others – and I had executed it.

What can you tell us about the archive footage you use?
I drew heavily on archive footage from the Irish Film Archive, British Pathe, NHK in Japan and other sources to illustrate the richness of her oral memory as recounted in our conversations. She was a little deaf and she insisted I come out from behind the camera to sit next to her. As she told me her stories, they came to life in my mind’s eye and I sifted through archives of early 20th century Ireland and Japan for hours on end to find the best images and the one’s that most closely matched what I had envisaged as she told me her stories.

And the footage of interviews… how much were you working with in the edit and how did that work out?
I went completely “mental” in the filming and collecting of footage stage… I had 30 hours of interviews with her and added to that interviews with other missionaries who had returned from Japan, as well as historians, etc., etc. I didn’t know where to draw the line and I learned a harsh lesson in the editing stage! My wonderful editor Elisabeth Feytit and I quickly realised that – as had been the original intention – Jennie’s story was preeminent and so she stayed, those who knew her stayed, and all other interviews ended up on the cutting room floor.

Rather than interviews, it’s conversations, which are made more natural by you appearing yourself in the film.
As mentioned above that was her decision, and there’s quite a funny sequence in the film where you see her deciding that. Because I’m a TV journalist and used to being in front of the camera and because Jennie had spent decades at the top of a classroom, neither of us were self-conscious in front of the camera so I do think the conversations that emerged were very natural. Also, in some respects I was experimenting and had the idea that, at worst, this would be a family record and didn’t have to be shared – so I wasn’t worried what people would think.

And funding the film…

The question of funding and distribution had not even been remotely touched on during the filming stage. I did a crowdfunding campaign around a year later in order to make up the editing and production costs. I had no official funding for this project which was entirely paid for by the crowdfunding and by the school she worked at in Tokyo who understood and fully supported the motivation for the film.

 

Thanks to Your Noble Shadow screens in the Cinemobile on Sunday, 16th July at 16:15 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh.
Buy tickets
The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqJJPUDxfZA

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

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Olga Černovaitė, director of ‘Butterfly City’

 

Director Olga Černovaitė explains her motivation for making ‘Butterfly City’, her film about the city of Visaginas, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

The city of Visaginas was created from nothing in the 1970s in order to service a powerful Soviet nuclear power station. Literally designed and shaped like the wings of a butterfly, it was intended to be a window of Soviet progress to the West. After USSR disintegration, however, EU membership meant Lithuania has to close the plant, the city’s main industry. At a time of growing geo-political tension, and in an ambiance of mutual mistrust, what future for the 25,000 Russian-speaking townspeople?

Ahead of its screening at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, director Olga Černovaitė explains her motivation for making Butterfly City, a portrayal of a city that is refusing to die along with its defunct power plant.

“I knew I had a story to make about this topic of identity, in Lithuania, where I grew up, but for a long time I couldn’t identify exactly what it was. In the end, it was right under my nose all along. As a child to Russian parents, I was born in Lithuania and raised as a very patriotic Lithuanian. But the question about identity became stronger as I grew older. Am I Russian? Am I Lithuanian? Later, after my daughter was born, I spoke Russian with her and taught her Russian songs.

“When researching the film I discovered that many of the people of Russian descent in Vilnius I was talking to turned out to be from Visaginas. Then I realised this was the place I had to go to and there everything came together. Originally, before I studied film, I had a scientific education, in chemistry, so in that way even the characters based at the power plant reflected my own personal history, just like other characters are also a kind of reflection of myself.

“I did not set out to make a political film, but in the process of making the film and with the recent political climate in the former USSR states, it became impossible to avoid it. So I tried to show the complexity of the problem. And perhaps even showing a more nuanced point of view. Lithuania was the first country to leave the Soviet Union and a lot has changed since then. Some people see it as a good things, some people not. The many voices in the debate can be heard in Visaginas.”

Talking about the role the power plant plays in Visaginas now, Olga says that “many people in Visaginas lost their jobs because of the power plant closing. When the power plant was still fully functioning, the town had 33,000 inhabitants, of whom 5,000 worked directly at the plant. Today the population is around 20,000 people; 2,000 work at the plant and this number is still decreasing. It is still is a big source of income for the people who still have jobs, as a lot of work goes into closing a power plant. Ironically, the people that are working on closing the plant are the children of the people that built it in the 1970s.

“If you look at people’s attitudes towards the plant, there is mainly pride, though. You could say the power plant symbolises the history of Lithuania and people’s attitudes towards it are as complex and diverse as people’s attitudes towards the USSR and the country’s independence.”

As for the future, “Visaginas is a city at a turning point,” according to Olga. “The closing of the power plant created a lot of uncertainty, but it also paves the way for a new future. Nowadays, the town is investing a lot in tourism sports, and other small and mid-size businesses. Looking at it from the outside, it may seem like a dying city, and maybe it was for a while, but with a very active young generation that shares a deeply rooted love for the city, what dominates is hope.”

 

Butterfly City screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh Friday, 14th July in the Cinemobile at 12:15

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

 

 

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Cast to Attend ‘Maze’ Screening at Galway Film Fleadh

 

Tickets have already sold out for the Irish premiere of Stephen Burke’s hotly-anticipated Irish thriller Maze at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh. The screening on Saturday 15th July will have director Stephen Burke and cast Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Barry Ward, Martin McCann, Aaron Monaghan and Niamh McGrady all in attendance.

 

“I am delighted to be premiering Maze at the Galway Film Fleadh, and to show the film to an Irish audience for the first time,” said director Stephen Burke. “The festival has become such an important part of Ireland’s film culture, and it’s wonderful that so many of our great cast and crew will be present.”

 

Based on the true story of the 1983 mass breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland.  As Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the chief architect of the escape, schemes his way towards pulling off this feat, he comes into contact with prison warder, Gordon Close (Barry Ward). Initially Larry and Gordon are confirmed enemies, born on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide, but when Larry realises that Gordon may be unwittingly useful for his escape plan, a slow seduction begins. Larry intends to use and manipulate Gordon in order to get closer to his goal but what follows is a tense, and intriguing drama in which an unlikely relationship is forged between two enemies that will have far reaching consequences for both of them.

 

Maze will be released by Lionsgate UK, and was financed by The Irish Film Board, RTE, BAI, Film Vast, Windmill Lane, Cork regional funding and Irish tax incentives for the film industry.

 

Maze will be in Irish cinemas 22nd September, Cert 15A

 

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

 

http://filmireland.net/2017/06/05/irish-films-in-cinema-2017/

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Kevin de la Isla O’Neill, Director of ‘Acorn’

Kevin de la Isla O’Neill tells us about the seed that became the Acorn.

 

What can you tell us about the film?
It’s a sweet and fun story about a mum who gets called into the Principal’s office at her son Gregg’s school during nativity play rehearsals. She assumes it’s because he’s in trouble again and is ready to defend his actions, however the principal has something rather different to tell her about Gregg​ which leaves her completely gobsmacked.

How did you become involved in the project?
I entered the Filmbase Short-Shots scheme as a director back in Feb 2016. It’s where directors, writers and producers come together to create one of 4 films offered by RTÉ/Filmbase.

As a director in the scheme, I had to first find a script I liked through various methods. Among them, a Facebook group where people send and request scripts and also a few speed-dating events for writers and directors. So after an extensive selection process I came across Jonathan’s [Hughes] script and I found his sense of humour to be very in tune with my own. I contacted him and we got on great, so pitching the idea came naturally. After that, we had to find a producer that would serve the project best. So we approached Sharon Cronin [producer] with our ideas on the project and she happily came on board to make the perfect team complete.

Can you tell us a little about putting the cast together?
Casting Gregg was the most important at the beginning and we saw some boys who had a lot to offer. But we all thought Luke [Kerins] brought that something extra, a kind of ’knowing’ look in his eye. He was also​ a bit​ older than what​ we were looking for but looked young enough for the part, which I think worked in his favour as he did a fantastic job! For Barbara we always had Norma Sheahan in mind, and when approached, she happily came on board.

We went through many ideas for the mother and principal and we all had suggestions that would make the characters very different, but in the end we decided on Aideen Wylde and Aidan O’Hare, who were both comfortable with comedy and they worked incredibly well together, and really made the characters their own; a very unique take on the roles that we were thrilled with.

How involved was Jonathan in the filming process?
Jonathan was very involved from the beginning and whenever we had questions about the script or characters he was always on hand to help or advise, and to make changes where we needed to if things weren’t working. He travelled over from London where he was residing at the time and was on set for the filming days,​ so I think it was all really exciting to see his script come to life. It also helped when we needed to rejig things very quickly on set, to get his opinion on how the changes might make the characters react, etc.

Any particular challenges you faced on this production?
There were various types of challenges as there are with any production, whether it’s a short or a feature, working with a big crew or small, and then working with children and animals, etc. So sometimes it comes down to trying to get the most out of the budget and dealing with time restrictions or location limitations, etc. scheduling picks-ups with actors and crew.

Sharon is an extremely competent producer and organized everything with acute efficiency, which meant we had a more than capable team throughout production, so challenges were quickly addressed when faced with them.

Working with Director of Photography Richard Donnelly was also a great asset, as I had worked with him once before and we seem to speak a common language, so when faced with any challenges we would quickly find a creative solution to the problem at hand.

No matter the budget or scale of production, you always wish you had more time and budget. In this case we were fortunate to have Natasha Waugh as our 1stAD, so thanks to her shoot management we were able to get the most off our time on location.Some locations kept changing and, as the story takes place on a school, we had to wait for a holiday break from the school to be used in order to shoot there, as weekends would be too restrictive. Also due to location access, some scenes were cut and replaced by others.

As the film takes place during nativity play rehearsals, the costume and production design are hugely important as the costumes are very specific, specially for the children, but Ciara Coleman-Geany did a fantastic job creating these and then the set design was very prop heavy, but Jill Beecher, our set designer, looked after that extremely well too, from finding bits and pieces everywhere​,​ to creating​ a very​ Christmassy look​,​ to​ even​ building a full stage for the nativity play rehearsals​, as there was none at the location​.

At some stage we had a very visual scene in a swimming pool, but that proved too burdensome due to the time allowed at the location and the amount of time we had for the shoot as a whole.

There were​ a lot of VFX required, which​ were done in After Effects, that you probably wouldn’t even notice​ (and shouldn’t)​, which is a great thing if it doesn’t stand out of course. But it takes an incredible amount of time and patience to do those types of things especially when working to a deadline on a small budget​, etc. But it’s all part of the process and we want to make sure that the best possible version of this film is the one you see on screen at the end of the day. So all the challenges make it worth it.

You must be excited about Galway…
I am very excited about Galway as I feel we have a lovely little film with a lot of heart. I’m really looking forward to seeing the film on the big screen and hearing its 5.1 mix, which was done and designed by Mutiny post, ans the score, composed by Sarah Lynch, was performed by the RTE concert orchestra, thanks to the IMRO | RTÉ Scoring for Film Program, so it should be an amazing experience to see and to listen to.

It also has been a while since I’ve been in Galway as part of a film project in the programme, instead of in the market pitching, etc. So I’m really looking forward to getting to showcase our film, network and talk about the next projects in order​ to develop further and enjoy all that the Fleadh has to offer.

 

Acorn screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts 4 on Friday, 14th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 12.00.

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017.

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Emma Eliza Regan, Writer/Director of ‘Wild Fire Nights’

Emma Eliza Regan

Emma Eliza Regan gives us a glimpse into the world of Wild Fire Nights, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

What can you tell us about Wild Fire Nights?

It’s a 17-minute contemporary drama, that centres around Lila – a deeply troubled and dysfunctional young woman, who tries to maintain an image for the world, but inside she’s crumbling and trying to numb the pain out. I’ve tried to reflect the inner world of young women today, all the grey areas that don’t ever get tapped into on Irish screens. The ‘selfie generation’ has created a situation where one’s validation only comes from her sex appeal – there’s severe consequences on the psyche of young women, which I could see around me every single day, as young as 14 up to 34. Anytime I looked at my phone, whether it was Facebook or Instagram, it was there, so I was trying to capture the real darkness and the massive psychological consequences of it all.

 

… and the title, Wild Fire Nights?

 The film was called ‘Unfiltered’ for a while, but the title Wild Fire Nights seemed to really depict the total destructiveness and utter waste… it expressed how one tiny situation can ignite something in us, that causes a series of events, that just spread fast and destroy everything in such an irrevocable way.

I called her Lila as it comes from the Hebrew word for ‘’Night’ and ‘Dark Girl’ – which was fitting for her.

 

How did the story come about for you? 

The character itself came from a night out – I was in a cubicle, and there were empty vodka and pregnancy tests thrown on the floor, and I guess that image was such a very dark juxtaposition that it stuck with me. Who was this girl, and how did she end up in here?  I also would see so many young women completely out of it and nobody really investigates that. I wanted to dig a bit deeper and see well what is going on in a young woman that she’d need to do that? What has happened? Most of these girls are just deeply hurt and trying to cope.

 

Wild Fire Nights

Were you planning to direct from the get-go?

Yes, I had such a clear vision of it that it just made sense. Also, I started to feel that directing was the one place where I could contribute something substantial – I was able to use my own voice, instead of offering just the little tiny box of my performance.  I was at the stage I wanted to move on from playing the school girls, and use my other capacities too and create my own work.

I suppose as a girl in my twenties myself, I felt I could write about certain topics and portray them in a way that’s totally authentic – so I just started writing what I saw and questioned around me.

 

What was it like directing your first short?

I really enjoyed the experience! It was hard work too, being responsible for so much, but I just rolled up my sleeves and kept going because I was so passionate about it and had fun times with the crew around me.  I’ve always been sort of observing and contributing ideas on every set I was on anyhow, I hang around on set watching what’s going on even after I’m wrapped… so it was a natural decision for me.  It was the post-production I needed to learn a lot, all those elements were new to me, so I took away a huge amount of lessons from the edit.

 

Hanging around on set

What experience as an actor did you bring to working behind the camera. 

Firstly, all a director needs to do is make sure the actor doesn’t feel like it’s acting… make it about not acting as much as possible. I was very in tune with them all anyhow, and gave them complete trust to keep the takes fresh and spontaneous. I knew from experience that if something doesn’t work, scrap it, it’s not working for a reason, change it around rather than stay there forcing and forcing a scene. I have been on sets where a director keeps forcing it, although it doesn’t feel right, so I was sharp in keeping each scene instinctive from my acting side of my brain. For an example, James Browne, who’s one of the most instinctive actors anyhow, I had him swinging around on bars of a boat as Lila tried to talk to him about her mother’s death, it was actually written as them sitting by the beach, but I knew I needed both that tension and lightness…. Also, the same with Dara Devaney, before his scene I gave him a bowl of porridge to be feeding the granny, that one tiny action told more about his character than any words could – so I used a lot of simple, authentic actions in a scene to click a performance into place.

 

Did you pick up a bag of tips from directors you have previously worked with?

Of course, I mean I was privileged to have that experience with very talented people, so of course it shaped me in some way. I did learn a huge amount about performance and film in general from Shimmy Marcus when I was in the Factory, he deconstructed everything from script to the edit to the performance, and taught me that it’s much about show rather than tell… Then on set,  I went with longer takes with certain actors, like Gerry (Mc Sorley) and David Murray, because I knew the level of experience they carried, and that those extra few seconds after the scene would be where they would just nail it, and I remember Ivan Kavanagh working with us in a similar way. Also, I personally think Brendan Muldowney is a phenomenal director, I love how he captures so much tenderness in the darkness of the subject matter –  so if I could have learnt anything at all from a director I worked with, that would be it.

 

You assembled a great cast. Can you tell us a little about this?

I had a very clear idea of who would work from the writing stage. I had worked nearly everyone with previously, except Gerard McSorley –  although we were both on Penance last year, we hadn’t any scenes together, but he is such a prolific actor, someone I admired for years on film, and he connected with the subject matter on a personal level, so he brought a lot of real and powerful truth to that scene. He had me in tears and it was still only on his close-ups, so that’s the strength and brilliance of his performance for you right there.

With James Browne and Dara Devaney, they were both actors that I did theatre with at the very start that I sort of just clicked with. Dara Devaney and I had worked in the Abbey and we became good pals, he’s got such a genuine and honest quality to him, and I knew our ease with each other that would come through on screen. He added a very warm and kind presence in the final scenes, and James Browne was also someone I met back at the very start. I did a version of A Midsummers Nights Dream when I was 17,  and then, earlier this year, I was in a screening of Lorcan Finnegan’s Without Name at ADIFF and he absolutely stole every scene. He has that exact mix of both elusiveness and danger, and he brought so much intensity to Flynn. He’s also going to be in Maze which screens at the Fleadh on Saturday night, so he’s gaining a real momentum in her career now, and think he’s only going to go from strength to strength.

With David Murray, we worked with one another on Jack Taylor – and again, was the first and only choice for the role –and he brought such an edge to that scene. I loved his performance in Amber. He’s a great voice, and had that mix of both masculinity and vulnerability it needed.

 

How did you find the role of producer?

Very full on, I have actually helped produced some projects over the last few years, so I wasn’t totally clueless. It was a huge amount of work with locations, insurance, health and safety, getting the whole crew together, catering, but my production designer, Steve Kingston, came board as a co-producer and helped me out with everything. So when we were both working together, we actually had a lot of fun in the process.

 

You must be excited to screen at Galway…

Yeah, it will be great to have a screening and finally see how people react to it.  It’s only the start for this film.

 

 

Wild Fire Nights screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts: Way Out West programme on Wednesday, 12th July at the Radisson Blu Hotel at 2.30pm.

 

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Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

 

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Tristan Heanue, Writer/Director of ‘A Break in the Clouds’

 

 

Tristan Heanue gives us a look at A Break in the Clouds, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

What can you tell us about A Break in the Clouds?
 
It is about a young couple who are struggling in different ways following the birth of their first child. It follows them over one morning as things come to a head.

 

How did the story come about?

It came from a few different places. A few friends of mine had babies in quick succession and I saw first hand the different types of strain that it had on them. It just stuck with me and I wanted to tell a story that showed what the pressures were like for both sides during this time.

 

Did you always know you wanted to direct this story?
 
Yes, I had been working on the script for over a year and it was always in my head to direct it. Originally, I hadn’t planned to act in it as I submitted it to a short film scheme, but once we didn’t get selected for that I had to re-think it. Paddy Slattery [producer] had always suggested me acting in it so I decided to go for it. I had a wonderful cinematographer in Narayan Van Maele who made the whole experience so much easier. We spent a day in Connemara walking through the locations and planning everything so when the time came for me to step in front of the camera for my shots he had it all under control.

 

You’ve worked with Paddy Slattery before – what does he bring to the table?

 

A number of things, he is always the first person to read my scripts so I trust him more than anyone. He gives the best advice when it comes to screenwriting and doesn’t sugar coat it. He always helps you keep belief in a project and pushes you on when you sometimes might be having doubts about the material, which usually happens weekly!

 

What were the important lessons you learned from your debut directing experience that you brought to bear on this film?

 

Mainly to not try to cut corners with anything, to be more prepared. Sometimes you look back at the other films and see little mistakes and you just do your best to not do the same again. I spent a lot more time on the script also, it went through quite a few different versions as we had a certain budget and had to make sure it was possible to shoot it on that.
 
How important was the chemistry of the cast to successfully tell this story?
 
It wasn’t as important as maybe on others. All the characters are somewhat estranged in it or have bad communication with each other so I think it would have worked either way. But as it happened everyone kinda knew each other. I had met Marie Ruane, who plays Natalie, a few times before and we spent an evening rehearsing our scene beforehand but that was the only rehearsals we did for the film. Gemma-Leah Deveraux, who plays Sarah, and Marie had also known each other for years so they were comfortable working together. And I had also met Linda Bhreathnach, who plays Ally, a couple of times before so that always helps things flow a little better.

 

You must be excited about Galway
 
Yeah, I’m so excited to show this film to people. I’m nervous as well of course but I think the excitement is maybe edging it this time. Galway is obviously special for me being a native so it will be great to have all my friends and family there with me.

 

 

A Break in the Clouds screens at Galway Film Fleadh on Friday, 14th July at the Town Hall at 10am as part of the New Irish Shorts 4 programme.

 

 

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Padraig Conaty: How We Made ‘No Party for Billy Burns’

Billy Burns is a would-be cowboy lost in the dreary fields of Cavan. Stranded at home with his grandfather and ridiculed around town for his innocent ways, Billy works for the local ranchers, saving his money for a trip up to the big city, maybe to never come back…  

Director Padraig Conaty tells Film Ireland how he went from playing Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to writing and directing his debut feature No Party for Billy Burns, which premieres at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

I studied animation at IADT Dun Laoghaire. Honestly, I spent most of my time there playing Grand Theft Auto San Andreas with my friends. It gave birth to a love of gangster rap and country music. With little hope for my drawing abilities after college, I drove diggers on sites during the boom years, which was an ideal job as it gave me plenty of time to think about film ideas. I saved my money and bought a Panasonic HVX 200, cutting-edge equipment at the time for the aspiring low-budget filmmaker.

The first thing I filmed with it was a slow-motion shot of some old friends standing outside a pub drinking pints, smoking and telling lies to each other.

There was always a whiff of the Western around the way men would speak to each other back home. I think it was passed down from John Wayne to my father’s generation when they watched all them Cowboys as kids. It permeated the cultural gathering – a certain swagger in how you would outwit your neighbour.

I was very lucky to meet a young upstart around the village, Kevin McGahern – also a veteran of the animation degree. We were both fascinated with the characters and stories around our hometown, though we had enough distance from it to develop our own outlook on the world.

Kevin liked Cowboy films more than me. When nearby town Arva held its inaugural American Truck and Wild West Country Festival, Kevin was the only person who dressed up as a cowboy. Little did he care as he made his way around the town, firing off imaginary shots at the local Garda Sgt, who even pretended to get killed. I said at the time to Kevin’s girlfriend Siobhan,  “that’s a great character for a film.”

Eight years later, No Party for Billy Burns is about to take its first breath at the Galway Film Fleadh. We filmed it over two blocks of ten days at the tail end of 2011, which makes it almost 6 years now since production began. I assembled a bright-eyed crew of friends whom I had been working with in the Dublin Indie scene at the time, co-ordinated by producer Lisa McNamee.

I had a lightning quick and trusty DoP in Tommy Fitzgerald, and my Mam rustled up the best dinners I’ve had to this day on any film set. There were over forty actors, mostly local. The budget was raised through table quizzes, horse racing nights, fundit.ie and a little help from Cavan Arts Office.

It’s tough making the no-budget feature film. The editing was the real ordeal for me. It’s something I would advise anyone with that hazy-eyed dream to pay lots of attention to. I am grateful to the time it took though, as it made me mature enough to appreciate the substance of the story I wanted to tell, and I never lost that original belief in the uniqueness of the character Billy Burns.

 

No Party for Billy Burns screens in the Town Hall Studio on on 13th July 2017 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh. 

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

 

 

 

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

 

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Amy-Joyce Hastings, Co-writer & Director of ‘QED’

Charlene Gleeson (QED) 

Amy-Joyce Hastings shines a light on her short film QED, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

What can you tell us about QED?

I’m being somewhat tight-lipped about some of the major themes until after it’s had its world premiere in Galway. You only get one chance to see it with a virgin audience if that makes sense… QED tackles some big issues, it will be controversial to some I imagine but sure to spark debate at any rate! At its core it’s a film about love. For a short, at just 17 minutes, it takes a deep dive into a passionate marital relationship and poses the ultimate question – what won’t love do?

 

How did the story come about for you and Michael O’Kelly? 

So the story was Michael’s, and the screenplay was mine. He had this amazing idea he’d been carrying around in his head for years, it was loosely inspired by real events from his own life. He first pitched the idea to me last year at the Kerry Film Festival and I was blown away by it. When I read his first draft it didn’t really put across the story he’d described to me back then so we worked on the story for several weeks till we had a filmable script that effectively put across the themes and relationship I’d found so captivating initially. Michael was great to work with on the script, and that is so often not easy for somebody to do. It was a very fluid collaboration.

 

Were you planning to direct from the get-go?

No, not at all. I was just at a festival listening to an actor’s idea for a short. That happens a lot. I never imagined I’d end up making it! Then a month later I asked Michael to take part in a reading of my feature screenplay After The Rain, after which he asked if I’d direct his short. I was very taken with the idea but was stuck into my own screenplay and thought his first draft needed time I didn’t have to develop it into a film. But at the same time, something in it just struck a chord with me and I couldn’t let it go. And here we are now….

 Amy-Joyce Hastings

You’ve written and directed a number of shorts now – it’s obviously something you enjoy alongside acting…

I love it. It’s a crazy amount of work, but there’s something addictive about taking something from your imagination and making it manifest. There are commonalities with acting – the storytelling, the creativity, and of course there are differences – it’s a lot more technical and time consuming on the one project, but they are all very rewarding in their various ways.

 

Can you tell us a little about Filmbase’s involvement in the project?

Yes, I’m delighted Filmbase was one of the main production companies on QED. It was similar to the scheme Alan Fitzpatrick [Filmbase MD] devised last year with Lily. So, each Spring the Filmbase Digital Masters students make a feature film through Filmbase. And last year Graham Cantwell, who mentors on the course, had a short film script he really wanted to make, so Alan cleverly suggested they produce it through Filmbase and use it as a training exercise for the Digital Masters, prior to going out to shoot their own feature. They hired in professional Heads of Departments and each HOD supervised a team of students who made up the crew. I sent Alan the QED script in January and he really responded to it and suggested we do it the same way as we had with Lily, provided we could shoot early February! It was a very quick pre-production period but we took that great momentum into the shoot. Filmbase also provided some of the resources and film equipment for us. It really helped us achieve high production values so we could best utilise our budget.

 

You must be excited to screen at Galway…

I’m thrilled to premiere the film at Galway. It’s an exceptional year for shorts programming with some big names in the category. It’s always a great launching pad for films in Ireland. I had to press very hard to get the film ready in time but it was worth it now it’s in!

 

QED screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts 1 on Wednesday, 12th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 10:30.

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

 

 

 

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

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Liam Ó Mochain: Director of ‘Lost & Found’

Aoibhinn Garrihy  and Seamus Hughes

 

Liam Ó Mochain tells us about the 5-year journey behind his feature Lost & Found.

 

Lost & Found is a feature film with 7 interconnecting stories set in and around a Lost & Found office of an Irish train station.  All segments are inspired by true stories, share a theme of something lost or found and have characters that come in and out of each other’s lives.  It was filmed in 7 segments of 3-4 days per annum over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016 in Ireland.  I spent the first 6 months each year researching the stories and characters, 3 months working on the script and 3 months was spent on the production itself from prep, to filming to post work.  A good part of the year was also spent looking for and raising money to cover the next film segment.  Each year we brought in most of the key production team and core crew three to four weeks before the filming began, depending on how many segments were to be filmed.  Each year’s segments were only done after the previous one or ones were paid for and finished.  Doing it over this long period gave me a lot of time to think about all the different stories, characters and ways to interweave them together in the overall project.  Lost & Found completed principal photography in Summer 2016 and post-production in April 2017.

 

Lost & Found

We filmed for two and half days in a busy railway station in Co. Laois and an empty prefab building in Dublin which was turned into a Lost and Found office. One of the biggest challenges with this segment was finding materials and props to fill this empty space.  We contacted numerous charity organisations and asked to borrow whatever they could spare.  I also raided most of my own home including most of my toddler’s beloved toys.  Which both bemused and confused my 3 year old and 2 year old when they visited the set and seen their toys in our Lost & Found office. I researched stories from Lost & Found offices all over the world and visited the main L&F office of the national Irish Rail company to incorporate interesting stories, incidents and items into the script.

 

Ticket to Somewhere

Irish Rail were again crucial for this segment, as the film is set in and about a train station and on a train. The original story and character that inspired the story was in a bus station in Morocco. I met a man with a large suitcase in the main bus station in Marrakesh who seemed to be living there.  He said he was waiting for a bus to go to the airport to visit his sister in London.  He was telling everyone his story or a variation of it.  I wondered what his real story might be and it got me thinking.  I decided to adapt and adjust this experience and set it in a train station, as they have always fascinated me. They are busy and diverse places, with train tracks overlapping like veins and blood vessels. Filming in such a site was aesthetically interesting and logistically challenging.  Irish Rail let us film once we had insurance and did not disrupt their live services.  After a bit of persuading, they allowed us to shoot on a scheduled passenger train for half a day at no cost so long as we did not disrupt their passengers or schedule which was a times a challenge.

 

The Proposal

The story of the proposal is inspired by an incident that happened to a Canadian couple I heard of at a London airport.  I changed the location and some details of the story.  This segment took the longest to set up as we wanted to film in a real airport, in all areas including the security section with guards.  The Dublin Airport Authority were very helpful but did rule out filming in the security area.  Straight away I had to rewrite the ending of the film.  Luckily I had contacted them a few months in advance as it gave me time to re-think the crucial end scene and how to still make the scenario work in a different area of the airport.  The Alcock and Brown bar in Dublin airport with its widescreen vista of planes landing and taking off was a perfect location to end the story.

 

The Tent

The inspiration for the Tent came from two places.  A friend of mine from Eastern Europe told me a story about what happened in a neighbour’s garden in the Czech Republic some years back. A couple had asked to camp in their garden for the night; but after a few days of no movement from the tent, the farmer opened the tent and found something mysterious left behind.  I had also heard about 100 or so children that lived in a farm in the North of Ireland in 1939. They have travelled there as part of the kinder-transport from Germany and Eastern Europe. After I heard this story I decided to do some researching on both lost treasure of the 2nd World War and children who had been sent from their homeland by their families to the UK and Ireland.  I relocated the Czech Republic part of the story to an area in Poland and I created a character who had come to Ireland as part of kinder-transport, settling in Ireland after the war had ended.  The countryside area in Poland that we chose to set part of the story in, is very similar to Ireland so we recreated it in Laois with Polish road signs, car signs etc.  It was a lot of fun to do and watch being recreated.

 

The Will

The story of The Will is based on an urban myth that is told all over the world and no one knows where the original story came from or who it is based on.  All versions of the tale are set in a funeral home which was our principal location.  After much searching, we eventually found the ideal funeral home. A week before the shoot the funeral director suddenly kicked out the full pre-production crew and refused to let us film there.  It was the most surreal experience being kicked out of a funeral home. I suppose if you are going to be kicked out of somewhere it is one of the best places.  We are still not quite sure why he changed his mind and he wouldn’t say but we suspected afterwards that he thought we were going to embalm a body for real for the film.  Which we weren’t!

 

Grand Opening

The script for Grand Opening came to me in a dream.  I had noticed a bar in Dublin that every few months would change its name and exterior design, but never changed the inside or anything else about the bar. However, no matter how many name changes, they still had no customers.  I wondered what it would take to fill the bar.  Every scene of the film came to me in a dream.  I woke up and wrote it down straight away.  After writing the script I was told about a lot of similarly stubborn bar owners; whose traits I tried to integrate in the main character.  I travelled most of Ireland trying to find a bar with the right look and found it in a small rural community in Ballybrittas, Co. Laois.  It took four days to film this segment because we had to redesign the exterior of the pub every night for the next days’ filming, which caused a lot of confusion in the area and bemused Sean the owner of the Fisherman’s Thatched Inn, Co. Laois.

 

The Wedding

This story was told to me by a friend about one of her colleagues who was desperate to get married by a certain date; despite the lack of a groom on the scene she booked the church and paid for the venue.  I changed some details of the story to fit it into the narrative of Lost & Found. I can’t say any more about the story without giving it away.

 

Making the film Lost & Found was a great experience overall.  We had a great cast, crew and post production team at Screen Scene who stayed with the film throughout the 5 years.

 

 

Lost & Found screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday 15th July at the Town Hall Studio at 18:30.

The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

 

 

Lost & Found  screens at IndieCork at 3pm on Friday, 13th October 2017

IndieCork runs from 8 – 15 October 2017

 

 

 

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

 

 

 

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Linda Bhreathnach: How We Made ‘Native’

Patrick Bergin  Photograph by: Seán T. Ó Meallaigh 

 

Director Linda Bhreathnach tells Film Ireland how the idea for her latest film just wouldn’t leave her alone and how she set about making the idea a reality. Native is a story about a migrant worker returning home after many years abroad. A film about immigration and homecoming and a film which is ultimately about rising above the suffering inherent in life. Native will be screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

The idea for this film wouldn’t leave me alone so, in the end, I went about seeing if I could make the idea a reality. Native was inspired by a short story written by my sister (Bridget Bhreathnach). The story was so beautifully written and told the story of an immigrant (played by Patrick Bergin) in such a sensitive and insightful way, it conjured up so many clear images in my imagination of how the film might look.

I wanted the film to be beautiful but not pretty, to have a ruggedness to it, a wildness. Connemara, where it’s set, is such a unique and interesting landscape and I wanted to show the darkness and barrenness and to show that these things can be incredibly beautiful. In the same way that sadness can be beautiful.

I don’t like when things are too perfect, so I didn’t set out with rigid expectations. Although I had a very clear image in my head of what I wanted the film to look like, I wanted to create a film in an organic way. I think this helped a lot because we had very limited time and a limited budget.

Seán T. Ó Meallaigh (Director of Photography) and I have been very good friends for years and he has the most beautiful eye for photography and is a poetic editor. I cast him in my last film, Adulting, and during that we decided that we would make something together in the future. Seán was really into the concept and brought so much to the film. We used the natural light in Connemara, which is naturally dramatic because of the cloud coverage and strong winds and I think this translates to the screen.

When I met Patrick Bergin I told him about the story and he loved the idea. We decided to shoot it in March when the weather got a little better, although it still did rain for much of the shoot! One of our filming days was on an island, which was quite difficult as we had to cross this stony old causeway to get out there. The causeway is covered by the sea when the tide is in so we had to race against the clock to get it shot in time in order to be able to walk back off the island again.

I was very lucky to have met an amazing producer and writer from California, Marina Donahue, at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh, she was so supportive and hugely important to the film. We are currently developing a feature film written by Marina, about the travelling community in the 1970s and how the ‘cruelty men’, as they were called, would often take children from the camps and then put them up for adoption. It’s a very powerful and important story and I’m proud to be a part of it.

L-R: Moisés Mas Garcia (composer), Linda Bhreathnach (director / co-producer), Marina Donahue (co-producer), Seán T. Ó Meallaigh (director of photography) • Photograph by: Seán McCormack

The music was composed, created and produced by this gifted Catalan musician who is based in Galway, Moisés Mas Garcia. The music was so important because the film has no dialogue and the composer really needed to understand the story. Moises has a deep understanding of the theme of the film and this helped him to create a musical story to match the images on screen.

We also had Foley Artists in Russia work on helping to create a wonderfully rich ambient sound to go with the film. It was pretty amazing to see footage of these artists working on Native all the way over in Russia and watching the images of Patrick in Connemara and trying to recreate the sounds of the water and of his footsteps. There was something remarkably beautiful about that to me and the work they did really helped add another layer to the film.

There are hints of Irish music, but only hints. It’s subtle and you can hear beautiful Irish elements like the bodhrán. It was really really important to me that we had the bodhrán because of its primal sound and how linked it is to Ireland. The music overall creates a landscape of its own to match the Connemara landscape and the landscape of Patrick’s character’s journey.

I think the elements of story, place and sound all combine to create a story that can be understood by anyone anywhere. At least, I hope they do.

 

Native screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts 4 on Friday, 14th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 10:00.

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLgYk7vE5_gTlY3fkn1QuWHUfSYyvZQCV8&v=ROvlfvJb91o

 

 

 

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‘Butterfly City’ to Premiere @ Galway Fim Fleadh

 

On Friday, 14 July the new documentary by Lithuanian director Olga Černovaitė, Butterfly City, produced by Dublin-based Jeremiah Cullinane for Planet Korda Pictures, will celebrate its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh as part of the official selection.

Butterfly City is a portrait of the purpose-built Russian-speaking Lithuanian city Visaginas, refusing to die along with its defunct Soviet-era nuclear power plant. At a moment of economic turbulence and political tension, the residents face an uncertain future.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWa1mGSWH7U

www.butterflycityfilm.com

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Mark Coffey, Co-producer of ‘Writing Home’

 

Producer Mark Coffey tells Film Ireland about romantic comedy Writing Home, made as part of the Filmbase Masters Course.

 

What can you tell us about Writing Home?
Writing Home is a romantic comedy and tells the story of Daniel Doran, the writer of a string of international bestsellers of dubious literary merit. He returns reluctantly to a small rural village in Ireland where he has to deal with family politics, the old flame he walked out on and the daughter he’s never met.

 

How does the Filmbase Masters programme prepare you for making a feature film?
The Masters programme sets you up well for making a feature film. In the first term the focus is on the academic side of filmmaking where we learned about each aspect of the filmmaking process with a few practical assignments. The second term concentrated much more on the practical side of things and the assignments allowed us to experience each department’s roles and responsibilities on set. Our final assignment was crewing the short film QED, which also premieres at Galway, and it allowed us to work alongside established cast and crew in the Irish film industry.

 

Cast & Crew

Did you enter the course knowing you wanted to be producer?
I entered the course knowing I wanted to be a filmmaker and was interested in writing, directing and producing. After graduating in science from Trinity, I moved to Los Angeles for a year and worked as a production assistant on a number of commercials and TV shows. It wasn’t in the Steven Spielberg league but I got a great variety of experience from reality TV to high-end drama. When I returned to Ireland, I worked on some films produced by Treasure Entertainment and believe the skills I picked up in the US and Ireland led me towards the producer role.

 

There were 3 directors on Writing Home – Nagham Abboud, Alekson L. Dall’Armellina and Miriam Velasco – how did that work?
It’s actually not as bad as it sounds. The toughest hurdle was between themselves in transforming three voices into one. Of course each of them brought their own skills and perspectives and they worked intensively as a team in pre-production to ensure a consistent vision for the film. I understood with having three directors that I needed to take a backseat in the creative process on this occasion.

 

What was it that attracted you to Conor Scott’s script?
It was a laugh reading through it and there’s plenty of funny moments that I hope the audience at Galway will enjoy. The main character, Daniel, has an interesting character arc and, although he is funny, he still has to face the consequences of his actions and learn from his experiences.

 

Can you tell us about some of the biggest challenges you faced and lessons you learned.
The first big challenge was finding a location for a rural Irish village. After unsuccessful scouts in Kildare and Wicklow, I hit upon the idea of setting the film in Carlingford, where I spent many happy childhood summers growing up. The locations were perfect and the people were very welcoming and generous but the only way we could have Carlingford as the setting was if I could find accommodation for about 20 members of cast and crew. The next problem was how to get everyone there when so few people could drive or had transport of their own – but we managed it and spent almost two weeks filming in the Cooley peninsula.

 

Another big challenge was the shoot in London. The crew of four, and the two actors that joined us, were fairly new to the city and, although we had done our research, we couldn’t be certain that our plans would go off without a hitch. Sadly, three days before we arrived, the London Bridge attack had taken place and the tension in the city was palpable. Despite that, we found people very helpful and we got most of the material we had been hoping for.

The most persistent challenge was the constant need to raise funds. We organised a crowdfunding page and I managed to get sponsorship from a number of businesses and Louth County Councillors but the budget was extremely tight and a constant worry.

Although the production was stressful at times, it was a great experience and the biggest lesson I learned is to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

 

Writing Home screens on Wednesday, 12th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 22:00 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh 2017
 

Writing Home screens on Wednesday, 15th November at The Gate Cinema at 18:45 as part of the Cork Film Festival
 
 

Masters Digital Feature Film Production

MSc at Filmbase

 

Dates: Starts September 2018

1 year full-time course

Filmbase offers a unique, industry-facing masters-level course aimed at preparing filmmakers for the reality of writing, developing, pitching, producing, shooting, editing, posting and distributing feature films in digital formats.

http://www.filmmasters.ie/

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2017 Bingham Ray New Talent Award Nominees

Chris Baugh

The Galway Film Fleadh has nominated five Irish filmmakers for the 2017 Bingham Ray New Talent Award. This year’s nominees have been shortlisted for their work in the fields of Directing, Acting and Producing.

Co-founder of indie film distributor, October Films and former president of United Artists, Bingham Ray attended the Galway Film Fleadh for many years before his untimely death in 2012. Bingham spent his time at the Galway Film Fleadh mentoring filmmakers; listening, advising and encouraging. The Irish film community benefited hugely from Bingham’s wealth of knowledge across the complete spectrum of the film industry and in 2012 the Galway Film Fleadh recognised his generosity and contribution to the industry by creating the Bingham Ray New Talent Award.

The Nominees for 2017 are:

Dafhyd Flynn (actor, Michael inside)

Chris Baugh (director, Bad Day for the Cut)

Colm Seoighe (actor, Song of Granite)

Donna Eperon (producer, Michael Inside)

Kate McColgan (producer, Drummer & The Keeper

 

The winner of the 2017 Bingham Ray New Talent Award will be announced at the Closing Night Awards Ceremony of the Galway Film Fleadh at 7pm on Sunday July 16th.

For more info see www.galwayfilmfleadh.com

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Actors Masterclass with Michael Smiley @ 29th Galway Film Fleadh

The 29th Galway Film Fleadh, in association with Screen Training Ireland, have announced that Michael Smiley will be the subject of this year’s Actors Masterclass.

The masterclass will be facilitated by Maureen Hughes of Bow Street.

The masterclass costs €25 and will take place on Saturday the 15th of July from 10am – 1pm in the Radisson Hotel, Galway. For further information or to apply for a place, contact Brónagh Keys by email at:

masterclasses@filmfleadh.ie

Some scenes may be inappropriate for a young audience – viewer discretion advised.

The closing date for applications is: 1pm Friday – the 7th of July 2017.

 

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Dave Thorpe, writer of ‘Leap of Faith’

Writer Dave Thorpe talks to Film Ireland about his film Leap of Faith, which is set to screen at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. 

 

What can you tell us about the film. 

Leap of Faith would probably best be described as a sci-fi thriller. I was pitching it as Rear Window meets Marvel. It’s about a young woman, Kelly, who begins watching her new neighbour, Johnny, from her apartment window. Kelly quickly becomes fascinated with Johnny and is watching him over a number of days. Where this takes a turn is that, one morning, while watching Johnny, Kelly discovers that he has special powers. She only sees it for a moment, but she is sure that what she saw happened… or is she? She thinks she is, but she needs proof. The film then becomes about Kelly determined to catch Johnny out and get the proof she needs. The two of them have a cat-and-mouse game going on. It’s about Kelly becoming less shy and reserved and more confident as she starts to believe in herself and the greater supernatural aspect to the world.

 

How did the original story come about?

I wanted to do a superhero film from an outsider’s point of view. So if there’s this superhero secretly off saving the world, that we don’t focus on them but we follow someone else in the world that this superhero exists in. I was actually originally writing a sort of cartoony short story about a kid who looked up to his mam as though she was a superhero, and she secretly was. I was also wanting to do a mostly contained Rear Window style of thriller. Then those ideas just both developed into Leap of Faith. I actually only recently came across old notes on my phone from a couple of years ago – character and shot ideas – that ended up being ideas I used much later for Leap of Faith. That’s the cool thing about writing, that even if you write something down for a different reason at first, it never really goes to waste.

Kelly confronts Johnny

You found a director and producer through the Short Shots scheme – tell us how that worked.

I’ve known Mark Smyth, the director, for about ten or eleven years now. We’ve worked together a number of times before but I think this is the first time as a writer and director team. We both applied for the Short Shots scheme separately. We encouraged each other to apply and talked about potentially working together but we didn’t go into the scheme with the plan in mind to team up. We just decided to go in looking for projects or teammates that suit what we wanted to do. I did the speed networking events that Filmbase held as part of the scheme, which were fantastic. It was a great way to meet people who you could work with and it makes you more confident in your story when you pitch it and gauge reactions. But I teamed up with Mark after he read the Leap of Faith script and we were both excitedly chatting about it. It was funny because there was this awkward moment as though we were on a date! We both wanted to team up but we were trying to play it cool and see what the other one was gonna say. But Mark being the gentleman that he is, plucked up the courage and I said yes. It was during the next stage of Short Shots that we both met producer Jonathan Farrelly for the first time. We all got along straight away, but we didn’t complete the team until myself and Mark pitched the film in Filmbase and Jonny read the script. The ball was in the producer’s court in a way so we just had to hope Jonny would go for it as he was who we both really wanted to produce Leap of Faith. Thankfully it all worked out.

 

What was it that they brought to the project that attracted you to working with them.

I really wanted Jonny to produce it because he was very into being ambitious in the Short Shots scheme. He didn’t want to make something that was very simple to accomplish and he didn’t want to cut down on any ideas for being difficult, expensive or whatever else without really trying our best to be able to pull it off. He has an infectious positive energy about him and he was really pushing for the film to be the best it can be. It absolutely would never have been made to the level it is if he didn’t produce it.

With Mark, I’ve always liked the style he puts into anything on screen. He really thinks about camera movements and styling very carefully. I knew he’d add that cool cinematic flair to Leap of Faith regardless of budget. I knew he wouldn’t shoot anything with the mindset of “Grand. That’ll do.” People often wonder when a writer hands a script to a director if they’re worried they’ll do something with it that you won’t be happy about, but I knew Mark would direct the film that I’d want to see not just as the writer but as a general viewer too. I honestly loved working with both of the lads, we had great craic making it but it was also tough work. They both really went above and beyond, which as the writer is great to see two people working their hardest to make something that otherwise would have just been a document on my computer. Overall I think the three of us worked great as a team.

 

What advice would you have for future participants on the scheme.

The first thing I would definitely say is don’t write or choose a project just because you think that is the type of film that Filmbase/RTÉ are going to go for. We never thought they’d go for a film where a woman is looking out her window at a superhero!  Don’t agonise over what was funded in the past. Apply with a film that is something that you want to see on screen. I also think it’s worth thinking about what you can do within the budget. To be realistic but ambitious at the same time. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make something that you’re really proud of. What I think really helped us with not only being selected at the end of the scheme but to actually make the film better was to start working hard on it straight away. Don’t wait for the ‘yes’ before you put any work in. The moment you’re in the scheme if you are actively working on preparing the project and thinking about it as though you’re definitely going to make it, I do believe that really helps the project in a lot of ways.

Dave on set with director Mark Smyth

How involved were you in the production process as a writer.

I was involved the whole time, I was on set with Mark and Jonny. The three of us collaborated every step of the way, and ran all of our decisions by each other. I worked on the script after we had our locations – to suit any changes that either might have to be made for logistical reasons or to add to the script any cool visual stuff that Mark wanted to shoot. It’s a very visually told film with very little dialogue, so it was great to be able to chat about shots and how to best tell the story even at that stage. After the shoot, myself and Mark took on the editing together and every week when Jonny came down to Dublin from Belfast, we’d all sit in the edit suite and watch the latest cut together. It was a perfect way to work and it made sure we were all making the film that we all wanted to make.

 

You must be excited about Galway…

I’m absolutely over the moon that it’s premiering at the Galway Film Fleadh! I studied screenwriting at the Huston Film School and lived in Galway for two years so to be able to come back with a film in the Fleadh is an amazing feeling!

Leap of Faith  screens at the  29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts 3 on Thu 13 July / Town Hall Theatre / 12:00 / 

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Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

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Galway Film Fleadh Launch 2017 Programme

 

 

Speaking to a packed crowd at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway on Tuesday evening, Director of Programming Gar O’ Brien revealed the full line-up for the 29th Galway Film Fleadh, comprised of over 80 features, including 16 World Premieres. The Fleadh also includes a robust short film line-up of almost 100 Irish shorts, as well as event screenings, panel discussions, masterclasses and more.

 

“Between being both a UNESCO City of Film and the destined European Capital of Culture in 2020, we felt more pressure than ever to deliver a programme to satisfy the cineaste audiences in Galway but I think we’ve put together something for everyone across the six days,” he said. O’ Brien is playing one of his personal favourites, Southland Tales, at this year’s festival and admonishes those of us who incorrectly critically maligned it the first time around. The underseen alt-history satire is playing, along with cult hit Donnie Darko, as writer/director Richard Kelly delivers a screenwriter’s masterclass. Also on hand will be funny-man and frequent Ben Wheatley collaborator, Michael Smiley (Free Fire, The Lobster), to deliver this year’s actors masterclass while director Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That) will impart his experience from making his many acclaimed documentaries. Bar-Lev’s latest, Long Strange Trip, a four-hour-long epic on The Grateful Dead, will play as a special event in Monroe’s Live, complete with whiskey tasting and presumably other…accompaniments. Hubbard Casting and Spotlight will also be returning to the Fleadh following the huge success of their unique casting workshop and pop-up casting village which we showcased last year.

 

Of course the Fleadh is where it all kicks off annually for many new Irish features and the Irish industry doesn’t disappoint. Launching at this year’s Fleadh is Michael Inside, the third feature from director Frank Berry and second collaboration with his young discovery Dafhyd Flynn. The prison drama looks set to be a breakthrough performance for both the social-realist director and the young Mr. Flynn. On Fleadh breakthroughs, Gerard Barrett returns to the Fleadh with his latest feature Limbo, a homeless drama, made in between making his TV3 rural drama Smalltown and selling a corporate espionage series Honey to U.S. network F.X. In addition to the social commentary, the cracking crime caper A Bad Day for the Cut and the high-octane medieval thriller Pilgrimage will both make their Irish premieres after bowing earlier this year at Sundance and Tribeca respectively. These tasty morsels join previously announced quirky buddy movie The Drummer and the Keeper, prison escape movie Maze, and Irish-language period thriller Aithrí (Penance), all making their world premieres at the Fleadh’s feast of film.

 

There’s a focus on Polish cinema including Agnieszka Holland’s latest Spoor, an eco thriller in the style of a Polish Fargo, but world cinema titles abound with films from over 30 countries stuffed into the Fleadh’s six days. You can’t get much bigger than the Irish premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, starring Irish talents Cillian Murphy and Barry Keoghan, but of course there’s plenty of more arthouse fare, including Irish premieres of God’s Own Country, the feature debut from Yorkshire man Francis Lee, billed as a better, more British Brokeback Mountain and the Fleadh’s closer Return to Montauk, a romantic drama which marks the screenwriting debut of Irish author Colm Toibin and directed by Volker Schlöndorff.

 

For fans of great documentaries, the festival continues to impress with insightful and topical films like A Cambodian Spring, in which Irish director Chris Kelly exposes the international complicity in the corruption of the Cambodian government; Condemned to Remember, the follow-up film to the acclaimed 2014 doc Close to Evil, featuring Irish holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental embarking on another journey to confront human rights abuses; and In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America, a portrait of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, with a post-screening dissection with key contributors including former Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn.

 

For details on these screenings and much more, including Q+A’s, panel discussions and events happening during the festival, check out www.filmfleadh.ie.

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@GalwayFilm

 

 

 

 

 

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