Informative plattform of International Federation of Film Societies- Féderation Internationalle des Ciné-clubs- Federación Internacional de Cine Clubes
Galway Film Fleadh is a festival that it has celebrated the 28th edition. Irish Republic has several film festivals, none of them like Fleadh. It is so called “Fla” –in Spanish- is how people pronounce it in Irish. Fleadh means “celebration, party” in Gaelic. The Fleadh includes all the items of any first-rate film contest: several sections, industry spaces, large public, world premieres, recognized directors…
Nevertheless, it has one thing different to the others: a symbiosis between creators and spectators, one closer atmosphere between public and filmmakers that it is not common in other festivals around the world. I give different examples; some spectators of previous editions are creators in the present edition is more often than in other places; the films protagonists, not only producers or directors, usually are sitting closer to the public – this can be logical in any festival because the film crews go to the premieres – but the main difference in the Fleadh is that these “protagonists” assist to the other Fleadh projections or events where public is invited too, how ordinary spectators, they not only go to watch their own films – this is a trend in the new filmmakers and in another festivals-; and finally, the presence of cinema students or people who has some interest in the Seventh Art is so usual in the Fleadh.
Galway Film Fleadh, focus its effort for promoting the new Irish cinema, in all of its genres and formats. It’s a platform for Irish creativity and the industry that supports it.
The direct and closer personality of the Fleadh is given by the way Irish people are; kind people, without artifice and they show themselves like they are, it doesn’t mind if they are ordinary people, spectators or filmmakers.
I have been fortunate to assist like a Jury member of Don Quijote Prize two times. Access Cinema, the organization that provides the best cinema throughout Ireland, the International Federation of Film societies, through its member the Catalan Film Societies Federation, and the Galway Film Fleadh have invited me.
It’s infrequent enjoying of this opportunity two times in the same event like a member of a Film society; nevertheless, it serves me to show me that the Fleadh is in fact a singular festival. In this edition I have watched more movies than ever, 38 during two days and a half.
I’m very pleased with all that I have seen. I haven’t found any film without something interesting for stopping my view. It doesn’t mind the budget or the genre. All films have had something appealing; good scripts, much humour, gestures to the spectators, well crafted films, great art works, amazing cinematography… In general, movies that they have many doses of creativity no matter the budget of the films.
This is surprising for me. I wonder the reason why all the films have this high level. Why? Because I’m not a conformed spectator.
Ireland has a Industry with great links to other markets, like United States or United Kingdom. This wide market provokes that the flagship films have success around the world. The Fleadh is an Oscar qualifying festival, in two sections, Best Short Animation and Best Short Drama. The Irish films are nominated for Oscars often.
But the main feature that gives this quality differential point to Irish movies is, in my in modest opinion, the freshness and the authenticity of their works. The films reflect well the Irish society, without artifices or tricks, nor with the pretensions too often in another cinematographies.
Examples of this are The young offenders, comedy released in the Fleadh, directed by Peter Foot and performed by the teenagers Chris Walley and Alex Murphy, or the shorts drama Madam Black, Starz, Fingerprints, The Captors, Gridlock, or short documentary Mama Hen, Gasper, Gone Viral and From ash, … They are only some examples of this special feature that I describe.
In the same way it has happened in the section where I have evaluated like a member of the Jury of Don Quijote Award, Animated short films. Most films have empathized with the audience. Their storytelling have touched them with emotions. The jury of Don Quijote Award has been composed by three people, Michael Ryan, Silwya Hamerska and myself, Joaquim Roqué, and we have failed to give the prize to Second to None, a film directed by Vincent Gallaguer, an inventive and funny stop motion animation. Playing with the humorous and unpredictable consequences of murderous intent, Second to None, is a smart and lovingly detailed, macabre tale of jealously and one man’s bungled attempts to fulfill his murderous desires. Pleasantly light in touch Second to None is a delightful audience pleaser.
A special mention was also awarded to Define Intervention, a surreal, irreverent and very funny story of faith as a natural resource This film explains the story of a man who comes face to face with God. This scathing film surprises to the international members of the Don Quijote Award Jury. This film wears implicitly the background of the affairs that the Irish Catholic states have suffered during the last years.
The set of the animated shorts films have mixed the works of students and the works of professional Irish productions like The lost letter, directed by Kealan O’Rourke with the Kate Winslet voice. For its excellent production, this movie has been the winner of the Best Animated Sequence in a Short Film.
Don Quijote Award Jury has coincided with The James Horgan Award for Best Short Film Animation, Oscar Qualifying Award for 2017. Second to none has captivated all.
My experience how member of the jury has been excellent. In the other hand I have the privilege to watch like a spectator the main window through the Irish Cinema flows to the world.
The fact of talking about cinema between members of film societies movement around Europe is an enriching experience. Because we can exchange ideas for applying to our reality when we come back. Spaces like the Rowing Club, where the creators, filmmakers, public and juries members can dialogue in an environment with a relaxed atmosphere that provides Corrib river shore, do that the global experience be appealing for any person keen on cinema.
Also, if you have your hand to Jim Sheridan when you are listening Irish music when are you drinking a Guinness. This picture is recorded forever in your Irish memories. This is Fleadh. Awesome.
Joaquim Roqué Paret
Amics del Cinema de la Vall de Ribes Film Society Member