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Film Fleadh with common touch weaves a magic spell

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Lifestyle – Ciaran Tierney hears how new talent mingles with the stars during a uniquely Galway event

In theory, it probably should not even work. A city with a population of just over 75,000 people, which has yet to see the completion of its own art house cinema, somehow manages to transform itself into a major hub of European and world cinema for six days each July.

Professionals attending bigger, glitzier festivals in Cannes and Berlin talk with bated breath about the delights on offer at the Galway Film Fleadh, which celebrates its 25th birthday next month. There are no red carpet premieres, but Hollywood professionals love the way they can rub shoulders with amateur enthusiasts and ordinary film fans over a few drinks at the famed Festival Club at the Galway Rowing Club.

For six days and nights, the Town Hall Theatre is packed with people attending screenings of documentaries, features, and shorts from all over the world. Every year the festival manages to unearth a few new gems while established global stars enjoy the informal atmosphere around an event which has grown enormously, but still manages to retain an intimate feel.

“The Fleadh has maintained its ethos over the last 25 years, which is that we want to be small, not in terms of the scale of the event, but we want to be intimate and informal. The Rowing Club is the festival club. There isn’t an ‘us and them’. Everybody is mixing and mingling. It’s so informal and relaxed, I think that kind of reflects the city of Galway itself,” says Managing Director Miriam Allen.

She believes it’s a huge bonus for the festival not to have a red carpet or glittering, champagne-fuelled launches. Film people from all over Europe and North America love to contrast the six days of mayhem in Galway with the glitz and glamour of Cannes.

Last year, there seemed to be one standing ovation after another at the Town Hall. Programmer Gar O’Brien gave world premieres to Pilgrim Hill, set in rural Kerry; Good Vibrations, a celebration of the Belfast punk scene during The Troubles; another Northern Irish film called Jump, and King of the Travellers. Each of them delighted capacity audiences as the Film Fleadh became a launch pad to greater things.

Irish film-makers now aim to finish their work in time for the Fleadh. It was the festival which gave Dublin film Once its first screening before it went on to win an Academy Award, the place where Garage featuring Pat Shortt was first shown to an audience, and where The Guard (starring Brendan Gleeson) received a rapturous reception after being filmed in the West of Ireland.

There have also been premieres for some brilliant documentaries down through the years. Richie O Domhnaill’s The Pipe (about the ‘Shell to Sea’ protests in Mayo) and the Oscar nominated Five Broken Cameras, set in an occupied Palestinian village, were both screened to Irish audiences for the first time at the Town Hall and both received standing ovations at the Fleadh.

Since its humble beginnings back in 1988, the Fleadh has always aimed to encourage new Irish talent. There was no Irish Film Board back then, the screenings took place in the ramshackle Claddagh Palace on the way to Salthill, and the Festival club was in a tent nearby. It just seemed to ‘click’ perfectly into place and the Galway bash became an annual pilgrimage for hundreds of committed film fans.

“The thing I like about the atmosphere around the Town Hall is that if you want to dress up, you can do that,” says Gar. “There’s such a great buzz and atmosphere outside, the whole thing is so informal, with all walks of life there. It’s a huge draw for us. Cannes is one thing, but people come here knowing it’s going to be so much more relaxed and informal, and that they can get some business done.”

Miriam and Gar both went to Dublin for a private screening of Pilgrim Hill with young Kerry director Ger Barrett last year. Barrett borrowed money from his local credit union to complete the film. There were only six people at the screening, including Ger’s parents and the local parish priest, and they were all in tears afterwards. It has given Miriam and Gar a huge lift to see Barrett’s career take off since the first public screening in Galway last year.

“We’ve always had a kind of punk rock or DIY ethos,” says Gar. “I think Pilgrim Hill was really satisfying for us, to see it not only getting a general release across Ireland, but the progress Ger has made, the people he has met. The way he’s been picked up internationally. That’s something we picked out. It all came from the Fleadh. For it to just to explode and his talent to be recognised since that first screening, that’s just an amazing part of the job!”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Immortal, a musical exploration of history, family and immortality

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Ellen Greally who plays Oisín's daughter Plur in Immortal.

An original musical, Immortal, from local theatre company, Morgan Creative is running at the city’s Town Hall Theatre until this Friday night, September 24, starting at 8pm nightly.

Billed by its creators Luke and Jake Morgan as “the next chapter of Irish folklore”, the story is set between the mythological land of Tír na nÓg, rural Galway during the Irish Civil War and modern-day Galway. It features 12 new original songs that strive to bring the area’s rich local history and traditions to a modern audience.

An era after her father, Oisín has left Tír na nÓg, Plur sets off on a perilous journey to find him. With the help of Choppy, a grouchy swan, Plur crosses the sea to a magical land she has heard about only in stories: Ireland. However, when she arrives, she learns that trouble is brewing.

The year is 1921 and the struggle for Irish independence is about to take a bitter turn. As Plur encounters a group of young rebels intent on storming Renmore Barracks, there is only one question on her mind: Will she manage to find her father and bring him home before it is too late?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway back in festive swing

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Festival highlight…John Gerrard (centre) in front of his Mirror Pavilion in Derrigimlagh Bog, pictured in with Galway International Arts Festival’s Chief Executive John Crumlish (left) and Artistic Director Paul Fahy. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

The programme may have been amended because of Covid-19 restrictions – but this year’s Galway International Arts Festival still conjured up a whole set of indoor and outdoor experiences to deliver three weeks of spectacular success.

The pandemic resulted in GIAF’s biggest ever digital programme, including the first festival theatre livestream, making the work accessible to a much wider audience – and a star-studded concert from St Nicholas’ Church.

Festival highlights included Medicine, a theatrical tour-de-force by Enda Walsh with a cast featuring Domhnall Gleeson – and the acclaimed Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work, the second part of John Gerrard’s visual art project set in the heart of Derrygimlagh bog. That also attracted a global audience because it included a 24/7 live stream of the virtual performance that was being shown on the LED screen.

The first ever Other Voices collaboration with the festival delivered an unforgettable concert from St Nicholas’ Church, as part of the Courage series, featuring NewDad, Tolü Makay, Susan O’Neill and Mick Flannery, and Anna Mullarkey.

Audiences can still experience again the First Thought Talks series by checking them out  the Festival website.  Guests such as Misha Glenny; Bonnie Greer; Mike Ryan, Noelle Browne; Siobhan Burke, Sinéad Burke, Fintan O Toole, Peter Lunn and Teresa Lambe amongst others, discussed everything from cyber-hacking to the impact of remote working on rural Ireland to vaccine development.

The 2021 Vinyl Hours series saw guests Philip King, Sinéad Burke, Niamh Regan and Brian Kerr, reveal their most treasured songs in special in-conversation events. Fans can catch up with these conversations when they are released next month as part of the First Thought podcast series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Kinvara exhibition focuses on ups and downs of social media

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The Kinvara Area Visual Artists group, KAVA is hosting, My Social Bubble, an exhibition of work by arts graduate Mark Keaveney, in which the Roscommon native focuses on the use social media

“My current practice is about the psychological effects of social media,” he explains. “I am exploring people’s engagement with these online platforms, mostly through digital media, along with other platforms such as painting, drawing, and photography.  Modern technology has proven to be a huge phenomenon and an extremely helpful tool in the contemporary art world.

“It provides many benefits as well as potentially harmful results. There is a significant grey area to be found when approaching peoples’ mental health and these handheld devices.”

This exhibition in cooperation with KAVA, will be supported by Kinvara Alive, a local group that promotes well-being and mental health.

The spokesperson for Kinvara Alive, Sean Glynn, says the show offers plenty food for thought.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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