Fastnet Film Festival gets under way in Schull

Nuala Kenny enjoying the festival. Picture: Denis Minihane

Forget Shakespeare and “all the world’s a stage”. In Schull, the whole town is a flickering cinema screen.

The Fastnet Film Festival is screening more than 100 short films and features from around the world in unlikely venues — given Schull is a town with no cinema.

The novelty of a town without a regular cinema hosting a film festival has resulted in serious levels of ingenuity. All the venues, whether the ballroom of the local hotel, the parish hall or the many pubs and other buildings screening films have been renamed. So it’s the Odeon, the Savoy, the Palace. Entering the parish hall — the Adelphi — it’s striking how effective it is as a cinema in all its tubular gloom — the effect was possibly heightened by the film on show at the time, Irish gothic The Parting Glass.

Things were altogether cheerier down the road in the ballroom of the Schull Harbour Hotel where children were watching Laurel and Hardy classic The Music Box. The squeals and laughs of delight showed that even in the era of the iPad and on-demand, there’s still a unique joy in immersing yourself in classic pratfalls in a darkened room.

There are two silent cinemas where viewers get the sound via Bluetooth headphones, while one of the most innovative experiences is the Long Island Cinema — a 10 minute trip on the ferry across to the nearby island of Inishfada where the ferryman’s bedroom has been converted into a cinema.

“It’s very different,” Hilary McCarthy, Festival vice-chair and communications director, said of the event. “It’s a small festival. The guest speakers say they come and have a bit of craic and get to see each other.

With multiple screenings it’s easier to catch a film than miss one, and while some events are ticket-only, others are free. It’s also a jamboree for filmmakers, with workshops and seminars, a quiz on Saturday and the closing awards ceremony tomorrow.

There are also some big hitters in town. Guests include Jim Sheridan, David Puttnam, Lenny Abrahamson, Pat McCabe, DG of RTÉ Dee Forbes, and many others. It will wrap tomorrow night with Stephen Frears, director of The Queen and Philomena, among others, being interviewed by the former DG of the BBC, Greg Dyke.


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