Celebrating its 30th anniversary, The Galway Film Fleadh returns this July to deliver a multitude of diverse films from both here and abroad. The festival, a staple of the artistic scene in Ireland’s cultural heart, has a great selection of movies and events for cinephiles to enjoy and indulge in. As well as marking a milestone, this year will also see many screenings take place in Galway’s newest arthouse cinema Pálás, which opened earlier this year. Another quality and luxurious hot spot for film screenings will no doubt serve to improve and spread the movie madness across the city.
Irrespective of refurbishments, the primary draw of the film fleadh is the films and the events. This year is no different. While many will be hoping to catch a glimpse of famous faces who will no doubt be in attendance, if you want with absolute certainly to meet and learn from one of Ireland’s greatest acting talents, you need only attend an Actors Masterclass being delivered by Andrew Scott. Known to many from his work as Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty in the hit BBC drama Sherlock, this takes place Saturday July 14th, 10am-1pm.
The actor also has a movie screening at the festival, Steel Country, directed by Simon Fellows. It tells the story of a small-time truck driver (Scott) who becomes obsessed with the murder of a young boy in Western Pennsylvania. For anyone familiar with the actor’s mainstream work, it’s unusual for him to be cast in the role of protagonist/hero. This is down to his hypnotically evil persona onscreen in roles in Sherlock, Spectre, and Victor Frankenstein. Yet Scott is an incredibly versatile actor both on the big screen and small, which he proved recently in the Irish film Handsome Devil.
There will also be a screenwriting masterclass overseen by Ed Solomon. His credits include Men in Black, Now You See Me, this year’s HBO series Mosaic & the most excellent Bill & Ted series. For anyone interested in screenwriting, movie-making, or creative writing in general, this event is a must see. Solomon will hopefully discuss the recently announced Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third entry in the series, more than 25 years after Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. If you’re a fan of screenwriting, Keanu Reeves’ breakout movie, or The Super Mario Bros movie (he co-wrote it), mark your calendar. The masterclass will take place on Friday July 13th from 10am-1pm.
New Irish Cinema
One of the more unique things about this year’s film fleadh will be the debut of the first ever stop-motion movie produced in Ireland, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen. Directed by Estonian newcomer Kaspar Jancis, and featuring a stellar Irish voice cast, including Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn, Ciarán Hinds, and comedians Jason Byrne and Tommy Tiernan, it follows a young boy who, after a chance encounter with a magician, finds himself captain of his own toy ship.
Following on from the recent Oscar-nominiated success of Irish animated movies, such as The Breadwinner, Song of the Sea, and The Secret of the Kells, the ten million production price tag, as well as the Renaissance of stop-motion movie-making by studios such as Laika, who’ve reached huge success both critically and commercially with movies such as the fantastic Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline, and ParaNorman, there is a lot of anticipation and expectation on the shoulders of this movie. You can catch it Saturday July 15th at 4pm in the Town Hall Theatre.
Last, we have the hotly anticipated, Black 47, closing the film fleadh Saturday July 15th at 8pm. Receiving mostly positive reviews after its initial screening at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival in February, this Western thriller is set during during the great potato famine of 1847. Directed by Lance Daly, and starring Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, James Frecheville, Freddie Fox and Irish stars Stephen Rea, Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene and Barry Keoghan, it tells the story of Feeney (Frecheville), a member of the British army. Upon returning to his home in the west of Ireland, he finds his mother dead from starvation, his brother hanged by the English, and his sister in law and her children starving from the catastrophic event unfolding across the country. Filled with fury, Feeney sets about exacting revenge on those responsible for the injustices carried out.
The director has spoken at length about how important it was to bring this monumental moment of Irish history, which hasn’t really been explored on screen before, to life. While this will certainly have more of a build-in audience at home, particularly due to the subject matter, it’ll be interesting to see if the movie can reach viewers outside Ireland who are perhaps unfamiliar with The Great Hunger. Nonetheless, this is without doubt the highlight of the festival. It’s a must see for anyone planning on attending.