Galway Film Fleadh (Saturday programme) Good Vibrations a winner with the audience.

Friday my first day at the Galway Film Fleadh had been a very positive experience. With more free time I would have loved to have been in Galway earlier in the week. I missed an opportunity to see a new Irish film Grabbers, I had also heard good things about Babygirl, the Rafters and Lὸn sa Spéir  (lunch in the Sky) Another feature I would have liked to have seen was Frank Stapleton’s The Fifth Provence (1996) which I worked on but I have never actually seen. I had seen 3 great productions on Friday ‘Pilgrim Hill‘Jump’ and ‘Citadel’ a quick drink and a chat in the Town Hall bar rounded off Friday nicely.

Saturday it was an early start with new Irish Shorts Programme 5 first up at 10 am, the sun was shining and made my 15 minute walk into The Town Hall Theatre very pleasant. A cup of coffee from the Theatre bar and we are in our seats with anticipation of what’s to come. There were 6 shorts in the morning session Music Memories, Golgotha, The Hatch, Shirin, Tom Sceadu. Film Festivals provide an opportunity for upcoming filmmakers to get their work out on a big screen and get feedback from their peers. All of the 6 shorts had some magic moments be that, cinematography, script, directions. There were 2 from the morning programme that stood out for me Music Memories which was a nice sentimental piece, in Shirin the tension built nicely before hitting you with a powerful and unexpected ending. After one hour 30 minutes it was off to catch a quick coffee and discuss what we had just seen.

Back in the Town Hall Theatre for 12 midday to see New Irish Shorts: Drama Programme 6. This time there were 8 shorts been screened, Morning, Lunchtime, Eyeline, Toy Soldier, Nowhere in Particular, A Kingdom Once Again, Oh and No Message. Like the earlier screen they were all entertaining, there were three that I would pick out for mention would be Morning, No Message and Toy Soldiers. After that it was time to get out eat and sample the delights of Galway. There was another selection of shorts made with the Irish Film Board frameworks scheme at 2pm that I missed.

Good Vibrations

The film that I had been most looking forward to seeing at the Galway Film Fleadh was Good Vibrations,  possibly for people of my generation there will be a stronger connection with the punk era, the energy, and rebellion. The film is set against the backdrop of the troubles/sectarianism which was tearing Belfast apart. With some kids in Belfast looking for a way to escape this  living hell – punk became their passport to giving sectarianism the 2 fingers. Terry Hooley a deejay had opening his own record shop, soon the punk scene became his driving force. Out of no where unable to get interest from the major record labels and to help get Northern Irish band to reach a larger audience., he set up the Good Vibrations record label taking on the giants of the music industry; it was his recording of The Undertones:  Teenage Kicks and subsequently it airing on the John Peel radio show that catapulted Terri Hooley into legend status in Belfast.

The film includes some file footage of the turmoil Northern Ireland was under at that time to tie in the music. Younger film audience may be unaware of the sight of the van belonging to the Miami Show Band blown to pieces along a rural road close to the border, killing 3 of the band members just how dangerous a time it was, even for musicians.  Good Vibrations strikes the right balance between the political realities of Northern Ireland, and the means of escape music provided some at that time. Good Vibrations depicts Terri as a flawed man in many ways but someone who had a deep passion for the music which was his religious, spanning the divide in war torn Northern Ireland. My one small issue with the film was casting, Richard Dormer  in the role of Terri Hoolie while he played the part superbly, might have been better cast as a younger actor to span the era. This film does for Northern Ireland in musical terms as The Commitments did in portraying a bleaker Dublin in the 80’s.  Good Vibrations is sometimes very dark and gritty, with some great Northern humour, but it’s the music which makes this movie live. Derek Wallace design captures the desperation and depravity of that time very well. This is a film which may prove a slow burner outside of Ireland given that accents and the period but I have no doubt in time Good Vibrations will be recognised as a classic. The audience in Galway loved it!

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