Galway Film Fleadh provides real evidence for the future success of Irish film

The Galway Film Fleadh – now in its 24th year is one of the most popular film festivals in Ireland. A week long event held every July offers a great diversity of film-making from around the world. The relax atmosphere of Galway provides a unique opportunity for producers, directors, financiers, other technicians and film enthusiasts to meet, see and discuss the very latest in film production and developments.

This year I am not only attending as an Industry employee but it also coincided with my week curating the @Ireland twitter account (from the 9th to the 15th) In that role I have been highlighting a lot of what is happening in Irish film throughout that week. Earlier this week I was in Belfast to visit the HBO production of series 3 of Game of Thrones (more on that in a later post).

I arrived in Galway on Friday afternoon to glorious sunshine which made a change from the damp conditions I left in Dublin. I had booked to see 3 shows on the Friday all of which were at The Town Hall Theatre.

First show was ‘Pilgrim Hill‘ – the story of Jimmy Walshe, a middle-aged bachelor farmer living in rural Ireland. Regarded by his neighbours as a harmless misfit, Jimmy has spent all his adult life as the caretaker of the crumbling family farm on the outskirts of a small town. He is limited, non-educated, isolated, yet through relentless determination gets through each day as best he can by keeping a smile on his face. Jimmy also cares for his ill, bed-ridden father as well as dealing with the daily routine of running the farm.

Shot on a budget of €4,500 over 7 days in a remote part of Kerry, scripted and directed by Gerard Barrett. It gives a deep, moving and bleak account of life for many people living in the isolation of rural Ireland. Highlighting the unsophisticated way of life and what can be a very lonely existence.  Gerard did a wonderful job to capture the story so well given his limited recourse’s. Joe Mullins portrayal a lonely farmer is particularly strong including some straight to camera scenes of what might have been if he had chosen a different life. Keep a close eye out for Pilgrim Hill its a drama worth seeing.

Next film I seen was ‘Jump’ it follows the lives of four twenty-something’s whose lives collide one fateful New Year’s Eve amidst the ancient walls of Derry in a night of fast talk, accidents and intrigue. Crime-boss daughter Greta is rescued from suicide by drifter Pearse who is on a mission to avenge his brother’s mysterious death. Johnny, a small time crook, and Marie, a frustrated shop assistant, are both looking for a fresh start. As the clock ticks down to midnight and the night’s events fall into place, Jump weaves an existential portrait of our characters’ lives as their hopes, fears and secrets are revealed.

The film was adapted from a play script about a suicide attempt all of the dialogue takes place on a bridge. Kieron J. Walsh and Steve Brookes have reworked the play script in to a fast pace gangster/comedy in the unlikely setting of Derry city. I loved this film from start to finish the script is great with many twists and turns, a very strong cast, good direction and beautifully shot. Jump I believe has great potential to be a big hit if it’s get the right distribution. The only slight drawback it has might be the very strong Derry accents.

Producer Brendan J. Byrne, Script Kieron J. Walsh, Steve Brookes, Cast Nichola Burley, Martin McCann, Ciaran McMenamin, Richard Dormer, Charlene McKenna, Valene Kane, Lalor Roddy

The last film I seen last night was ‘Citadel – set in dilapidated suburbia of Edenstown casts a shadow over Tommy Crowley’s life. Trapped there by his agoraphobia since his wife was fatally attacked by twisted feral children, he now finds himself terrorised by the same mysterious hooded gang, who seem intent on taking his baby daughter. Torn between the help of an understanding nurse and a vigilante priest, he discovers that to be free of his fears, he must finally face the demons of his past and enter the one place that he fears the most… the abandoned tower block known as the Citadel. Chilling and terrifying in equal measure, Citadel is a powerful and accomplished urban horror story.

With last night been Friday the 13th this movie certainly lived up to the classic horror. The condemned tower block provided the right setting to produce this film. There were several moment in this film when I felt a chill, and certainly by the reaction of the audience there were many instants where people screamed and jumped in their seats and a few laughs also. The script was not overall complicated providing you with enough information to keep the suspense. The priest played by James Cosmo brings and interesting dimension to the script. This film has all the right ingredients to make it a very successful movie, the best Irish production I have seen in some time.

Producer Katie Holly, Brian Coffey, Script Ciarán Foy,Cast Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku, Jake Wilson. Production Blinder Films, Sigma Films

This morning I seen a lot of the short programme and tonight I will see Good Vibrations but more about that in tomorrows post.

It been a very interesting Galway Film Fleadh so far, and has provided real hope for success with the latest project on show, and all in the wonderful setting of Galway.

Follow my tweets @Ireland for the last 2 days of the #FilmFleadh

(c) Tom Dowling 2012

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