How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.
How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch
Paul Mescal in short-film Drifting, showing at Galway Film Fleadh.

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.

All has changed in the world of film festivals post-Covid-19, and the Galway Film Fleadh (July 7-12) goes digital for the very first time in its 32-year history. Like many festivals the world over, Galway launches online as it aims to bring new movies to film fans and industry executives.

Galway is long regarded as a major international launching pad for Irish cinema - The Young Offenders, Michael Inside and A Date for Mad Mary are among the recent offerings that had their world premieres here.

It’s also known for its extensive shorts programme, with jury winners in three shorts categories qualifying for the long-list for The Oscars. Jury members this year include Ruth Negga and Liam Cunningham.

A scene from The 8th documentary, showing at Galway Film Fleadh.
A scene from The 8th documentary, showing at Galway Film Fleadh.

Films have been scheduled in the traditional fashion, with new films ‘premiering’ at designated times during each day of the festival. All selected films will be available to rent from the Film Fleadh’s website, and can be viewed across multiple devices.

The film’s ten world premieres feature many Irish movies including Eoin Macken’s new feature, Here Are the Young Men, adapted from the novel by Rob Doyle.

“This will be the most accessible the Film Fleadh has ever been before,” says programme director William Fitzgerald. “But crucially, there are only as any tickets available as there are seats in the Town Hall Theatre.”

The 8th

The Fleadh’s opening-night film is a documentary that chronicles an intense and memorable time in recent Irish history. The 8th recounts how Ireland overturned its restrictive abortion laws. Directed by Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy and Maeve Boyle, it focuses on a group of key pro-choice campaigners as they sought to secure victory in the Referendum campaign.

Henry Glassie: Fieldwork

Cork filmmaker Pat Collins follows up his widely acclaimed documentary Song of Granite, about the seannós singer Joe Heaney, with another portrait of an artist at work. The worldwide travels and cultural explorations of celebrated American folklorist Henry Glassie is the focus of Collins’ new film, as he looks at the work of artists in Brazil and America.

Redemption of a Rogue

The Fleadh has long been regarded as a festival for breakthrough Irish talent and Philip Doherty’s debut, a black comedy, has been generating buzz ahead of its world premiere. Set in west Cavan, it centres on Jimmy (Aaron Monaghan), a man returning to his homeland seeking closure and salvation, before saying goodbye to the world.

The Winter Lake

The Winter Lake, at Galway Film Fleadh.
The Winter Lake, at Galway Film Fleadh.

The Lodgers, a spooky supernatural thriller which travelled internationally on a modest budget, was written by David Turpin. Turpin returns to the genre in this eerie mystery set in the west of Ireland, with Phil Sheerin directing.

After making a grim discovery at a seasonal lake, a teenager uncovers some dark local secrets. Anson Boon and Charlie Murphy head the cast.

The Castle

This Irish/Lithuanian co-production was shot in Ireland and focuses on a teenager who has immigrated here. The coming-of-age movie focuses on Monika, in the weeks after she arrives in Dublin with her mother and grandmother. She dreams of becoming a successful musician, but when financial constraints lead to her keyboard being sold, Monika becomes even more determined to make her musical dreams come true.

Nocturnal

British production Nocturnal has its Irish premiere following strong buzz from its showing at the London Film Festival. Irish-based director Nathalie Biancheri, currently filming the psychological thriller Wolf with George MacKay and Lily-Rose Depp on these shores, makes her debut here with Cosmo Jarvis and young Irish actor Lauren Coe. The story centres on a teenage girl who forms an alliance with a 36-year-old man who is fixated on her, with life-changing consequences.

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw

This Canadian horror/thriller is set in a secluded and devout community, where a mother and daughter are suspected of carrying out witchcraft. This is because locals are suffering with failed crops, dying livestock and other difficulties while the suspected family have no apparent ill-effects. Irish actors Catherine Walker and Sean McGinley are among the cast.

My Extraordinary Summer with Tess

Galway’s young people’s and family programme includes this award-winning Dutch coming-of-age story. It tells the story of a ten-year-old boy who’s having a difficult time on holidays with his family, until he meets the dynamic Tess, the daughter of a staunch feminist who lives on the holiday island.

Drifting

In the shorts programme, Drifting is already getting plenty of attention, not least because of the presence of Normal People's Paul Mescal in the tale of life in the midlands. The cast also includes Dafhyd Flynn (Michael Inside), while Galway electronic producer Daithí provides the soundtrack.

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