Eastenders actors Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie were amongst the stars that dropped by sun-drenched Schull in West Cork for this year’s Fastnet Short Film Festival.
The duo are filming a spin-off BBC one series based on their Eastenders characters Kat and Alfie Moon. The series, set in the fictional Irish village of Redwater, is being shot on location in Dalkey and in Dunmore East in Co Waterford.
Recent international Irish successes in film were brought home to the five-day festival this year, where directors Lenny Abrahamson, whose film Room was nominated for four Academy awards, and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach are festival patrons.
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Mark McKenna, the stars of Irish musical comedy Sing Street, were in town to promote the film and to sing a few songs, as well as posing for pictures with young fans.
“I’ve grown up quite a lot since we made the film so I don’t get recognised all that often, but I do at events like this,” Walsh-Peelo said, standing outside Hackett’s bar with his parents and little sister Siafra in tow.
Frankfield, Cork, and Patricia Newman, Schull.
Cast in the role at just 14, he’s been kept busy ever since.
“Promoting Sing Street is a full-time job but I’m writing a lot of music at the moment and waiting for the next good role to come along,” he said.
In the meantime, the teen has been made Ireland’s Unicef ambassador and will travel to Nepal in June to highlight the important of education in the earthquake-hit country.
Key crew members from Room, such as producer Ed Guiney, set designer Ethan Tobman, and film score composer Stephen Rennicks, who also wrote the music for RTÉ 1916 series Rebellion, were on hand to share their experience in workshops and talks that are a part of the strong educational ethos of the festival.
Paddy Breathnach, the director of Viva, shortlisted for a foreign language Academy nomination, was also on hand to share his experience in a talk with former director general of the BBC Greg Dyke. Director Jim Sheridan, whose latest film The Secret Scripture, starring Rooney Mara, has experienced a delayed release due to financial problems was on hand to host many of the talks.
programming; and Pauline Cotter, hospitality and fundraising for the festival.
‘Our village is our screen’, runs the tagline for the festival; Schull may have no cinema, but that doesn’t stop the organisers. With 400 short films screening in pop-up cinemas in local businesses throughout the town, as well as in three locations in neighbouring Ballydehob, the only dilemma film buffs encountered was in choosing between the screenings and the draw of the weather, which saw the local pubs spilling out on to the streets with a mix of locals, film industry professionals, and festival punters, all soaking up the sun.
Although the festival lost Corona as its headline sponsors last year, festival chairwoman Hilary McCarthy said it has grown on last year, with 58 guests up from 34 last year, and attendance far in excess of the 4,000 punters who went to events in 2015.
“We had to scrounge and scrape a little bit from local businesses, but it’s been great,” she said.
The closing awards ceremony last night saw a sun-burnt crowd pack into the village hall, where The Bill actor Tony O’Callaghan, who lives locally, handed out the awards.
Best of Festival and Best Director went to Audrey O’Reilly for Wait, a “short film about fathers, sons and pigeons,” while the Best in Cork went to Paddy O’Shea for Brutal Truth.
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