‘Rubai’ Triumphs at Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival

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Rubai, directed by Louise Ni Fhiannachta, took home Best Drama and Best of Festival awards for 2014 on Sunday last at the sixth annual Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival.

The festival, which took place from the 21st to the 25th of May saw huge crowds of filmmakers from all over the world descend on Schull, Co. Cork for the duration of the festival. With over 300 short films being screened across 15 different venues, from the Ceiling Cinema, Mirror Cam and screenings on Long Island to pub and Café viewing all over town. Visitors also attended feature screenings, film quizzes and nightly live music.

The five-day event held various gala screenings, workshops, seminars, forums and clinics with some of Ireland’s top producers and directors including Carmel Winters, John Kelleher, Sandy Lieberson, Hilary Durman, Philomena’s Steve Coogan, Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Tracey Seaward, and Run and Jump writer Ailbhe Keoghan.

Other winners at the festival included Ian Fitzgibbon’s Breakfast Wine (Best Irish Short Film & Best Direction); Niall Owens’ Torn (Best In Cork); Jordon Prince-Wright’s Not Their Boots (Best Junior Filmmaker); Carolyn Duchene’s Wanda (Best Young Filmmaker); Laurence Relton’s Reel Life (Best Comedy); Aoife Kelleher’s Home (Best Documentary); Steve Woods Director, Ray Harman Music for Keeping Time (Best Arthouse & Best Original Music); Rita Basulto’s Lluvia en los Ojos (Best Animation); Hannah Salt’s Bump (Best Screenplay); Ronan Fox’s Keeping Time (Best Cinematography); and Evan Payne’s The Skelligs (Best Conservation).

This West Cork based festival also presented a director’s forum, chaired by John Kelleher and attended by Jim Sheridan, Stephen Frears, Pat Collins, Carmel Winters, Maurice O’Callaghan, Brian Deane and Jack Gold. Famous patrons of the festival include Lenny Abrahamson, Greg Dyke, Jim Sheridan, Kirsten Sheridan, Carmel Winters, David Puttnam, Jack Gold, Steve Coogan, John Kelleher, Gerard Stembridge and Maurice Seezer.

For more information on the festival and list of winners please check out http://www.fastnetshortfilmfestival.com/news/and-the-winners-are-2014/

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Irish Film Festival London: ‘The Irish Pub’ & ‘Rúbaí’

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The Irish Film Festival London has been presenting the latest and greatest of Irish Film and Animation to a London audience since 2011. This year Harrison Drury attended the festival to see how it promotes the best of Irish creative talent in the UK.

Here Harrison reports from the opening night’s screening of  Alex Fegan’s The Irish Pub with the director participating in a post-screening Q&A, plus a special screening of Louise Ní Fhiannachta’s award-winning short film Rúbaí.

 

The opening night of the Irish Film Festival London went down a treat with the UK premiere screening of Alex Fegan’s The Irish Pub for a rapturous crowd at the Tricycle Theatre.

The feature-length documentary looks at a selection of traditional Irish pubs. All at least three generations in the same family, with that family’s name painted above the doors. They have uneven stone floors and antique beams. Beer-bellied men sing in their taprooms and Irish music plays in their backrooms. Many double as convenience stores, one has even branched out into undertaking.

They are handsome and nostalgic, like old castles standing proud against the waves of what Fegan referred to as the “Starbucksisation” of modernity. They serve Fegan as microcosms of Ireland.

He talks to the daytime trade and their publicans, who are warm and tell funny stories. Their communities are brought to life in the stories they tell and given wonderful characters in the souls who have haunted their pub.

Haunted is unfortunately the word for there are troubles here also, pain and loneliness too. Though it is not explicitly referred to – the lens lingers on some drink ravaged soul sat in “his chair” at the bar – the documentary looks at drinking problems. As Fegan discussed in the Q&A session concluding the evening:

“I think there are moments where you see people that clearly, you know they’re not happy. I think they’re escaping reality, which can be a bad thing . . . but for me you can drink at home and you can buy drink a lot cheaper and that’s anti social . . . the pub is a place where people can talk and chat and in moderation I think it’s a healthy thing.”

The Irish pub seems a positive place to me. The publicans see their pubs as meeting places and their chat as a selling point. To quote one of their number: “There’s people come in to me for a drink and I get talking to them and they’ll stay for the night.” Which chimed nicely with WB Yeats’ line prefacing the film: “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” One customer likened his barman to a priest.

The houses really are like churches, adorned as they are with relics and old treasures. A confession box door is even used as a partition in one of the booths. Over another’s fireplace hangs the image of the mother of Christ upon a wooden box with doors like a dart board. During times of great religious oppression it was taken to liturgies deep in the woods

Indeed long reams of Irish history may be read on the pub walls. Fegan films inside snug boxes where women drank in a time when it was not proper for them to stand at the bar and where marriages were arranged and important conversations had.

One can also read, in the decline of the trade – almost one pub closes every day according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland – the depopulation of Ireland’s rural communities. It is clear in their interviews that the publicans fear the death of the institution.

I came away feeling for the publicans. It would be a shame to see such places disappear and, given that possibility, this would make a superb document of their having ever been.

 

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 Rúbaí

The Irish Pub was accompanied by a special screening of award-winning short film Rúbaí, a poignant comedy directed by Louise Ní Fhiannachta.

Rúbaí is school child who, with the Holy Communion looming, confuses her teacher and fellow students by declaring herself an atheist. She goes on to perplex her mother, bamboozle her priest and buy a big book by Charles Darwin.

All the above worry for their troubled Rúbaí but she the audience laughing to the bittersweet end.

Rúbaí won the Best First Short Drama at The Galway Film Fleadh and Best Irish Short Film at The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in Kerry 2013.

 

http://irishfilmfestivallondon.com/

 

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Galway Film Fleadh: Short Film report

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Mechanic (Tom Sullivan, Feidlim Cannon)

 

Laura Gaynor picks her ten favourite shorts from this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

This year I did what (I think) is known as the shorts marathon. It is an almost self-explanatory term and involves going to all the short films at the Galway Film Fleadh.

One of the reasons I like going to shorts screenings in particular is because of the range of stories told in contrast to just one type of story during a feature. Hence, value for money. However, if you’re a full-time chancer like myself, you might be able to get a free ticket. The cool thing about film festivals is that the people who worked on the film are usually in the cinema. I always find it funny when you settle into a screening and realise afterwards how the lead actor was sitting beside you the whole time. Lastly, the main reason I prefer film festivals is that people applaud after the movies. As small as this sounds, I hate when you go to a regular cinema and no one claps. It feels unnatural to watch a performance and not applaud. Applause concretes the shared experience that is watching movies in the dark. Without further ado, here are my favourite ten shorts – in no particular order:

 

The Beauty Of Ballybrack

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Old Bríd McNamee turns her house into a homestay for Spanish students but when the young divas cannot be tamed, Bríd returns to her witchy ways.

Director: Megan Woods
Producer: Amber Miles

This film was a graduate piece from the National Film School. I really enjoyed last year’s grad films and made a point of checking out their website to see how many would get through this year. The short centres on an old woman living alone in Dublin. Young at heart, she fancies the postman and writes letters to herself in a bid to advance their relationship. Bríd turns her house into a homestay for Spanish students but has ulterior motives. The film was good fun and had a great sense of colour. It was bilingual and was in no uncertain terms: hilarious.

 

Unfold 

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Mark is struggling with an unexpected change in his life when he meets Sara, opening his eyes to a new perspective of the world around him.

Director: Steven Daly
Producer: Oisin O’Driscoll

This was another IADT graduate film, with a clever idea to it. I liked its hook at the beginning with the secretive lead actor. It had great art direction and some nice lighting. The makers of this film left free paper cranes outside the cinema to coincide with one of the main ideas of the film. Who doesn’t like freebies?

 

I Can’t See You Anymore 

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Having woken up from a coma after an accident, psychotherapist Aidan Clifford is forced to confront the consequences of his own actions.

Director: Michael Kinirons
Producer: Ailish Bracken

A very original short about a man who’s dealing with the fallout of a car accident. My favourite part was the conclusion of the film but also the tension created throughout the film with flashbacks. It also had a commendable score and cinematography.

 

The Missing Scarf

(WINNER Best Animation)

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A black comedy exploring some of life’s common fears: fear of the unknown, of failure, rejection and finally death. Narrated by George Takei.

Director: Eoin Duffy
Producer: Jamie Hogan

A brilliantly abstract animation by Vancouver-based animator Eoin Duffy. I mainly liked this one because of its style, characters and script.

 

Alia 

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Alia is an Afghan-Irish girl torn between two lives. When her secret relationship with an Irish boy comes to her sister’s attention, it forces the family to make a decision that could ultimately tear it apart.

Director: Clare Dix
Producer: Nodlag Houlihan

Since most of the films seemed to centre on adults or young children, it was refreshing to see one in there that was about teenagers. I thought this short had a nice understated feel to it. Hat’s go off to the guy who played Alia’s Dad – he was fantastic.

 

Scratch 

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Eoin’s life is turned upside down when an unexpected mix of regulars and strangers turn up during his shift at a local petrol station.

Director: Phillip Kelly
Producers: Dave Leahy, Liam Ryan

Starring a man who said he’d let his face be used as a tee box for a winning lotto ticket, this film easily garnered the loudest response of the Fleadh. During an impossibly boring night shift, a first-time mugger attempts an ill-prepared raid of the shop. Although he has a gun, both the shopkeeper and customer call his bluff to hilarious effect. The actors had a great sense of timing and worked from a well-written script.

 

Curruid 

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In the wilds of Connemara, a mischievous boy discovers a creature from Irish folklore washed up on shore. They embark on a journey that sparks an unlikely friendship.

Director: Adam Kavanagh
Producer: BCFE

A very unusual story, but I loved it. When a Connemara boy meets a Loch-Ness-type creature, they become the best of friends. A beautifully animated short from Ballyfermot College of Further Education.

 

Heart And Hand 

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From its humble roots in the fishing village of the Claddagh, the Claddagh ring has identified the Irishness of its wearer, both living and lost.

Director: Emma-Kate O’Reilly
Producer: Galway Film Centre

Of the short documentaries I saw in the Fleadh, I noticed how lots of them could work from really simple ideas. This film was about a man who sells Claddagh rings – but it explored it in a very interesting way.

 

Rubaí

(WINNER of Best First Short Film) 

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Agus an rang á ullmhú don Chéad Comaoineach, dhiúltaíonn Rúbaí é a dhéanamh, ag maíomh gur ‘atheist’ í.

While the class are preparing for their First Holy Communion Rúbaí refuses to do it, claiming she is an ‘atheist’.

Director: Louise Ní Fhiannachta
Producer: Gemma O’Shaughnessy

The only film to take home both an award and a special mention, this was by all means the best gearscannan of the week. Much of the charm of this film stems from an engaging performance by young Doireann.

 

Mechanic

(WINNER of Best Short Drama)

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A mechanic fixes up an old car and drives into the Dublin Mountains to end his life, but old age catches up with him..

Directors: Tom Sullivan, Feidlim Cannon

Producers: Tom Sullivan, Siun O’Connor, Derek O’Connor

What seemed like an impossibly dark film at first ended up as one of the best plot twists I’ve ever seen. The film itself was very simplistic and didn’t veer from the inside of a car. This was one of the last shorts I saw during the Fleadh and definitely my favourite of the week. I was not surprised to see it take The Tiernan MacBride Award for Best Short Drama.

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