Review of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh: A Day Like Today


Christopher Banahan is impressed by Gerard Walsh’s A Day Like Today, which screened at the Galway Film Fleadh.

Gerard Walsh’s A Day Like Today has a thoughtfully-paced, sensitive script and direction that breathes an intimate sensibility into the arc of the story. Yet it belies a gritty undertone that gives the viewer disturbing glimpses that reveal the hidden flaws of the damaged central characters of the homeless Joe (Paul Butler Lennox) and downtrodden housewife Alice (Andie McCaffrey Byrne).

The film exudes a tentative subtle non-physical contact alliance between a couple from extremely different worlds. There is an unsaid compassionate understanding between the protagonists after spending a day in each other’s lives (suggesting an indirect catharsis to heal their own lives/ situations and see them more clearly from each other’s perspectives).

After the initial attraction, the unlikely couple’s hidden flaws rise uneasily and uncomfortably to the surface, during the course of ‘a mitching day in Dublin’.

Once intimate questions are asked by the pair, like the Pandora’s box syndrome, they have to be ‘looked into and faced’… As there’s no going back from the ugly truth once it is hinted at and takes an unhinged confrontational form of its own.

This confrontation manifests itself in a vengeful attack on Joe, a mercy rescue by Alice and the uncomfortable arrival of the vexed husband as he returns home to find his wife attending to the wounds of the homeless man. An uneasy, beer-drinking stifled conversation is drawn out with the homeless man by the suspicious husband, eventually leading to a brutal assault on his wife.

Yet despite the unwanted revelations and acts of retribution, the empathy of the two central protagonists towards each other irrevocably holds their belief in some form of redemption or hope, no matter how meagre or pitiful.

It is hard to believe that the film was put together on a micro-budget and shot in only ten days, as it is rich in its deliverance of its sensitive content, and thoughtful casting, particularly of Paul Butler Lennox’s volatile yet potentially ‘loose-cannon character’. An actor the director had in mind even as the script was still developing.

Gerard Walsh revealing it was ‘his love letter to Dublin’, told me he would make the film the same way again even if offered a larger budget – bringing to mind the Orson Welles filmmaker’s principal that ‘the enemy of art is the absence of limitation’ suggesting the tighter the budget the more creatively challenging the director must be. And in the case of A Day Like Today, Gerard Walsh succeeds with a wealth of imaginative gritty urban realism imbued with a sensitive story naturally told and revealed through brave and compelling performances.


Christopher Banahan (MA Production and Direction: Huston School of Film & Digital Media, Flirt FM journalist)

A Day Like Today screened on Wednesday, 8th July as part of the Galway Film Fleadh (7 – 12 July 2015)



‘Song of the Sea’ Wins Best Film at Galway Film Fleadh


Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea won Best Irish Feature Film at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. Alex Fegan’s Older Than Ireland was awarded Best Irish Documentary while Mark Noonan’s You’re Ugly Too won Best Irish First Feature ( in cinemas 24th July)

The Bingham Ray New Talent Award was given to producer Kathryn Kennedy, who produced the Fleadh’s opening film, My Name is Emily. Seamus Deasy was awarded Best Cinematography in an Irish Feature for his work on the film.

Stephen McNally’s Meanwhile won the Don Quijote Award for Best Animation and the Best First Short Animation was awarded to Tom Caulfield’s Unhinged.

The James Horgan Award for Best Animation went to Maurice Joyce’s Violet, while the Tiernan MacBride Award for Best Short Drama was won by Phil Sheerin’s North.

Best First Short went to Tristan Heanue’s Today, while Cara Holmes’ Queen of the Plough won Best Short Documentary.


The full list of winners of the 2015 Galway Film Fleadh:

  • Best Irish Feature Film: Song of the Sea
  • Best Irish First Feature: You’re Ugly Too
  • Best Cinematography in an Irish Feature: Seamus Deasy –My Name Is Emily
  • Best Irish Documentary: Older Than Ireland
  • James Horgan Award for Best Animation: Violet
  • The Don Quijote Award for Best Animation: Meanwhile
  • Best Animated Sequence in a Short Film: Geist
  • Best First Short Animation: Unhinged
  • The Tiernan MacBride Award for Best Short Drama: North
  • Best Short Drama: Queen of the Plough
  • Best First Short Drama: Today
  • The Donal Gilligan Award for Best Cinematography in a Short Film: Tim Fleming – My Bonnie
  • Best International Film: Margarita With A Straw
  • Best International Feature Documentary: Armor of Light and Touch the Light
  • Best International First Feature: My Skinny Sister
  • Best Human Rights Feature: Marzia, My Friend
  • The Bingham Ray New Talent Award: Kathleen Kennedy (Producer – My Name is Emily)
  • The Fleadh Pitching Award: Luke Morgan – Ewetopia
  • The One Minute Festival Award – Luke and Roger
  • Short Film Slam: I Am Jesus
  • Galway Hooker Award: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera, and Mícheál O Meallaigh

Review of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh: Song of the Sea



Song of the Sea had its Irish premiere earlier this evening at the Galway Film Fleadh. Glen Falkenstein sent us this review from the film’s Australian premiere at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.


Films routinely transport us to another world, another place; somewhere different and sometimes so enthralling that you can’t rip your eyes away. Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea, set in modern Ireland, does just that, weaving a very rich tapestry of Celtic folklore around a world we know, rendering a laudable achievement in both technical and literal storytelling just that much more fascinating.

Conor (Brendan Gleeson) shares an isolated lighthouse with his wife Bronagh and their son Ben, who is expecting a little brother or sister. A very pregnant Bronagh disappears one night after putting her son to bed, with Ben waking up to find a despondent dad and a baby girl, Saoirse. Fast-forward six years and Ben’s entrenched dislike of Saoirse has only grown, his sister yet to utter a word, his closest companion his scruffy sheepdog Cu.

Saoirse discovers a shell in Ben’s possession, left to him by their mother, which whenever she plays it produces magical properties and summons a flock of fairies. After a late-night adventure by Saoirse into the sea to explore these new-found wonders, her grandma decides the lighthouse is no safe place for children and takes them away to live with her, with Ben and Saoirse determined to remain by the ocean with their father.

Expertly integrating aspects of Irish mythology and a modern-day setting and characters, Song of the Sea is throughout its run an engaging and visually enchanting story. Screening as part of this year’s Sydney Film Festival, elements of Celtic mythology unfamiliar to the many who view the Oscar-nominated animated feature are rendered all that more engaging for both their vivid portrayal and demonstrated relevance and fusion within a current setting.

Tumbling down a rabbit hole of folklore, Ben encounters many magical, skilfully drawn creatures as he attempts to reunite himself and his sister with the ocean; both he and his father discovering the mythical secrets of their own family and home. The well-chosen style of animation is both descriptive and colourful but not overly complicated, creating images that are instantly charming as well as graphically striking when deployed for the more exuberant characters Ben meets along the way.

A memorable and endearing animated entry at this year’s festival, Song of the Sea sets itself above countless other children’s films by ably appealing to both kids and much older cinema-goers on so many wonderful levels at once.

Song of the Sea screened as part of this year’s Sydney Film Festival and The Galway Film Fleadh

Glen Falkenstein writes film reviews, features, commentary and covers local festivals and events. Glen lives in Sydney. He tweets @Glenfalkenstein


Short Films ‘Joseph’s Reel’ & ‘Coil’ Screen at Fleadh

JR Still 1
Forty Foot Pictures‘ Joseph’s Reel and Coil are both screening at the Galway Film Fleadh (7 – 12 July).
Michael Lavers’ Joseph’s Reel premiered at the Palm Springs Shortfest 2015 last week. Before passing away, an elderly man is given the chance to relive one day of his life. A figure known only as the Projectionist (Alice Lowe) offers a cantankerous Joseph (Robert Hardy) the chance to return to his favourite memory, so long as he follows the script of the day as it happened. But on choosing the day he proposed to his wife Rose in the 1950s, he is faced with a difficult choice – relive a perfect moment, or risk what little is left to steal a new one?

Steve Kenny’s Coil starring Joe Mullins (Pilgrim Hill) introduces us to Patrick, a lonely priest in a small rural community who has his world turned upside down when a strange trinket is left anonymously at his front door. This offering sparks in him an uneasy curiosity leading Patrick towards a dark encounter with the occult. His attempt to uncover what’s going on forces him to confront his own waning faith as he edges closer to the sinister threat of his mysterious tormentor.


Coil screens at 10am on Friday, 10th July at the Town Hall Theatre as part of the New Irish Shorts 4 programme.


Joseph’s Reel screens at 12pm on Friday, 10th July at the Town Hall Theatre as part of the New Irish Shorts 5 programme.



Irish Western ‘An Klondike’ to Close Galway Film Fleadh

Tom & Séamus


An Klondike has been selected as the Closing Film for the Galway Film Fleadh. An Klondike is the first Western to be made in Ireland and tells the story of the Connolly Brothers; three Irish emigrants who travel from Montana to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890s in the hope of striking it rich. The film follows the Connolly brothers to the town of Dominion Creek where they become embroiled in a deadly feud with Jacob Hopkins, the man who runs the town. When Séamus Connolly shoots Jacob’s son in a duel, Jacob vows revenge.

The film is produced by Galway based company Abú Media and producer Pierce Boyce states: “With An Klondike we have created an ambitious, character-driven drama that has international appeal, but with a distinctly Irish edge. The series will be bilingual with the majority of the dialogue in Irish. As they would have done at the time, the Irish characters speak to each other in Irish and speak with the American and English characters in English. The film has already attracted international interest and has secured an international distribution deal with Content Media.”

The film’s director Dathaí Keane said: “I’m delighted that An Klondike has been chosen to close the Fleadh. I’m from Galway myself and have been coming to the Fleadh since I was in school, so to premiere my first feature here is a real honour. The film was shot entirely in the West of Ireland and the landscape plays a vital role in establishing the visual tone of An Klondike. The desolate pine forests and lakes of Connemara are a perfect backdrop for the story we are telling. The terrain in certain parts of the West is identical to the regions of the Yukon where gold was discovered. So it’s very fitting that An Klondike make its debut at the Galway Film Fleadh”.

As part of the production the mining town of Dominion Creek was constructed on the grounds of the Glengowla mines outside Oughterard in Co. Galway. Production Designer Padraig O’Neill and his team spent months researching and designing each building that makes up the town.

The Connolly brothers are being played by Owen McDonnell, Dara Devaney and Sean T. Ó Meallaigh. Other cast members include Siobhán O’Kelly, Séamus Hughes, Steve Wall, Ned Dennehy, Robert O’Mahoney, Megan Riordain, Bríd Ní Neachtain and Native American actor Julian Black Antelope.

An Klondike is written by Marcus Fleming, director of photography is Colm Hogan, costume designer is Triona Lillis and music is by Steve Lynch. An Klondike was financed by BAI, TG4 and Section 481.


An Klondike screens at 8.30pm on Sunday, 12th July.

Director Dathaí Keane and members of the cast will attend.

Check our preview of Irish films screening at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh here

The 2015 Galway Film Fleadh runs from 7 – 12 July.

Check out the full programme here


Galway Film Fleadh 2015 Line-Up Announced



The Galway Film Fleadh has announced its programme for 2015, which this year features thirteen World Premieres alongside European and Irish Premieres plus its usual feast of film.

Irish films screening this year include a number of first features from debut directors, such as Mark Noonan’s comedy-drama You’re Ugly Too, starring Aidan Gillen who is released from prison to care for his niece; The Survivalist, a post-apocalyptic drama from Stephen Fingleton; and Traders from Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy, exploring the depths a group of young professionals go to, to preserve their wealth and status in recession-hit Ireland. The festival kicks off with a screening of Simon Fitzmaurice’s My Name is Emily.

The 2015 Fleadh will also showcase new work from directors like Johnny O’Reilly, who delivers a visual love poem to his adopted city and the interweaving lives of its denizens in Moscow Never Sleeps; Irish filmmaker Cathal Black presents a new short film Butterfly; and the Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar®-nominated animation Song of the Sea finally comes to Ireland.

Fans of Irish documentaries will enjoy Mary McAleese and the Man Who Saved Europe, in which the former president is our guide to the legacy of St. Columbanus; and Older Than Ireland, which tells the story of Ireland through interviews with thirty centenarians who are older than the state itself.

For details on these screenings and much more, including masterclasses, Q+A’s, panel discussions and musical accompaniments, check out


 The Galway Film Fleadh runs 7 – 12 July


Galway Film Fleadh to hold Free Outdoor Concert


The Galway Film Fleadh, in partnership with the Esker Festival Orchestra and Galway City of Film will present a Free Outdoor Concert of film scores on Wednesday 8th July at 1pm at the Spanish Arch, to celebrate Galway’s status as a UNESCO City of Film.


The Esker Festival Orchestra is a 60 person ensemble made up of talented young musicians from all across Ireland. They will perform a selection of classical film scores by popular composers such as John Williams, Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer. This Free Outdoor Concert will be an unmissable opportunity to hear music from movies such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Lord of the Rings and more, performed by a 60 piece symphony orchestra!


In December of last year, after a competitive evaluation process, Galway was officially designated a UNESCO City Of Film. This is a permanent global designation and an internationally recognised standard of excellence for Galway. The title of City of Film also includes membership of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, which seeks to develop international cooperation amongst cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development.


The Esker Festival Orchestra was set up in 2014 to provide a high quality, beneficial and meaningful musical opportunity for young professionals. The orchestra was set up to allow talented young musicians from across the country to perform together, socialise together and to promote and develop orchestral music in Ireland by nurturing the talents of its emerging musicians.


The Galway Film Fleadh takes place from Tuesday 7th to Sunday 12th July. The open air concert is just one of many events in a programme that promises to be filled with a feast of cinematic pleasures including public interviews, masterclasses, Q+A’s with filmmakers and extra-sensory screenings. The full programme for the 27th Galway Film Fleadh will be launched on Tuesday 23rd June at 6pm in the Veranda Bar of the Radisson Blu Hotel.

The Open Air Concert of Music from the Movies takes place on the second day of the Film Fleadh, Wednesday 8th July at 1pm by the Spanish Arch.


Call For: Volunteers for Galway Film Fleadh



The Galway Film Fleadh, which takes place from Tuesday 7th July until Sunday 12th July 2015, is now accepting volunteer applications for this year’s festival.


Volunteering at the Galway Film Fleadh offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with the running of an annual film festival, become a part of the Film Fleadh team and gain a unique insight into an important aspect of the film industry. Not to mention the fun to be had and friends to be made by working at ‘One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World’, as voted by Moviemaker Magazine.


Successful volunteer applicants could be asked to work in one of several areas:

  • Assisting with workshops and industry events
    • Transportation
  • Guest registration
  • Working with the Publicity / Marketing team
    • As part of a film crew – camera work, sound recording, editing etc.
    • Taking tickets / Ushering
    • Sales



If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, you can find more information and an application form on the Galway Film Fleadh’s website:


You can also email


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