25 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
“First-of-its-kind” Galway Film Fleadh wraps, Award-winners announced
26 Jul 2021 : News Desk
On Sunday the 33rd Galway Film Fleadh came to a close after a pioneering week which saw it deliver a blended programme featuring outdoor screenings, in-cinema screenings, and online screenings & events.

This year the Fleadh became the first hybrid film festival in Ireland as it moved outdoors for the first time in its history, in addition to hosting screenings in the recently reopened Pálás cinema, as well as making films and events like the festival’s industry arm, The Galway Film Fair, and Masterclasses available online.

Long regarded as the premier festival showcase for new work from Irish filmmakers, the festival featured 11 world premieres, along with more than 40 new films and more than 100 short films. 20 screenings including 3 Short Film Programmes, were hosted at the Fleadh’s main stage at Father Burke Park in the city’s historic Claddagh region. Each screening entertained up to 200 audience members with a special outdoor screen and via wireless headphones in a safe setting under the largely cloudless skies.


Highlights of the outdoor screenings included the opening night screening of Stacey Gregg’s debut feature the psychological thriller Here Before on Tuesday and Death of a Ladies’ Man on Wednesday, featuring Gabriel Byrne who won an IFTA Award for his performance in the film. Thursday saw the world premieres of comedy film Bicycle Thieves: Pumped Up and Love Yourself Today, which centres around the music of singer songwriter Damien Dempsey as well as his fans. On Friday there werethe Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland World Premiere Shorts Programme, which featured a mix of live-action and animated short films These were followed by the world premiere of documentary Pure Grit which chronicles three years in the life of a young Native American bareback horse racer, her unwavering determination, and the relationships that sustain her. Friday finished with the world premiere of the latest Cine4 Irish-Language feature film Foscadh directed by Seán Breathnach.

Saturday featured the world premieres of Brendan Byrne’s latest documentary Ryan McMullan: DEBUT, which follows the travails of the up-and-coming musician of the same name as he tries to record his debut album, and Who We Love, Graham Cantwell’s feature length version of his award-winning short Lily. The feature was co-written with Katie McNiece and received a standing ovation as the credits rolled. The night ended with a screening of Chris Baugh’s horror-comedy Boys from County HellThe Festival wrapped on Sunday with World Premiere Screenings of  surfing doc Riding the Wave and the Closing Night Film, Untold Stories which detailed the experiences of Irish Mother and Baby Home survivors and focused on the life and upbringing of one survivor, Anne Silke.

Other outdoor screenings included the premiere of the Irish language version of Oscar-nominated and IFTA Best Film-winner Wolfwalkers, plus a 30-year anniversary screening of Beauty and the Beast and a 20-year celebration of Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning anime Spirited Away.

In addition to the outdoor events much of this year’s programme was also available online, including film screenings, Q&As and discussions, including Generation Fleadh, an expanded section for young adults, children and families, and the three “in conversation” events, supported by Screen Skills Ireland, and featuring veteran Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, Irish-Scottish documentarian Mark Cousins and Irish-American screenwriter Mark Fergus


Due to continuing international travel restrictions, the Fleadh’s industry arm and MarketplaceThe Galway Film Fair remain online, but once again saw more than 500 pre-scheduled business meetings take place between filmmakers with projects in development, and financiers, sales agents, distributors, broadcasters, and major producers.

As well as the marketplace, there  were also Market Screenings  and the Fleadh Forum: an annual industry seminar with a state-of-the-industry keynote address, networking opportunities, and a range of panel discussions from industry leaders includingThe Irish Cinema Experience: What does the Future Hold and Producing in the Regions: Making it Work for your Project.  

The Best Marketplace Project Award. in association with the UK’s Bankside Films went to Lakelands from Production Company Harp Media (Ireland)  and Producers Robert Higgins & Patrick McGivney. Speaking of the award, Stephen Kelliher, Managing Director at Bankside Films said. 

“We are thrilled to partner with the Galway Film Fleadh Marketplace once again on the award for Best Project. Congratulations to Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney of Harp Productions on winning the award for their project Lakelands. The voters agreed that it is a well-developed story with a marketable concept which has the clear potential to appeal to distributors, international film festivals and audiences alike.”


The annual awards ceremony took place online before the closing film with major awards handed out including the Oscar-Qualifying Short Film awards The Tiernan McBride Award for Best Fiction Short in association with Network Ireland Television, The Best Short Documentary Award in association with TG4 and The James Horgan Award for Best Animation Short.

The winner of Best Irish Film, in association with Danú Media was Here Before. The taut and sophisticated psychological thriller set in Northern Ireland, starring Andrea Riseborough as a bereaved mother whose new neighbours stir up uncomfortable feelings of grief. Here Before is the incredibly assured feature debut of television writer and Belfast filmmaker Stacey Gregg. 

Best Irish First Feature went to  Foscadh, an Irish language drama set in the stunning wild mountains of North Connemara, and starring Dónall Ó Héalai in a delayed coming-of-age tale directed by Seán Breathnach.  

Pure Grit won the Best Irish Documentary Award. It is directed by Kim Bartley, about the male dominated world of Native American bareback horse racing and follows Sharmaine, a young woman determined to become a champion. 

In the Oscar-qualifying short film Awards The Tiernan McBride Award for Best Fiction Short in association with Network Ireland Television went to Saul & I  Written & Directed by Jon Beer and produced by Brian J. Falconer. Best Short Documentary Award in association with TG4 went to Nothing to Declare Directed by Garrett Daly, while the The James Horgan Award for Best Animation Short went to Memento Mori  Directed by Paul O’Flanagan, written by Paul O’Flanagan and Laura O’Flanagan, and produced By Louise Ní Chonchúir 

The much coveted Pitching Award went to Giles Brody for his teen caperTop Marks which saw him pick up 3,000 Euros for delivering the winning pitch, while the Bingham Ray New Talent Award in association with Magnolia Pictures went to TJ O Grady Peyton.

The  Full list of winners are as follows :

Short Film Winners 

International Short winners 

Best international Doc Short – MAMA Directed by Pablo de la Chica and produced by David Torres 

Best international Animation Short – Homebird Directed by Ewa Smyk and produced by Leah Jones 

Best international Fiction Short – Leylak  Directed by Scott Aharoni, Dennis Latos 

Irish Short Winners 

Best Debut Fiction Short: Bump Written & Directed by Rory Keenan and produced by Roxanne Holman  

Best Debut Animation Short: Bardo Written & Directed by Aisling Conroy and produced by Claire Lennon 

The Donal Gilligan Award for Best Cinematography in a Short Film in association with Irish Society of Cinematographers – Faitíos (The First Fear) Directed by Martha Fitzgerald with Cinematography by Alba Fernandez

Oscar Qualifying Awards 

The Tiernan McBride Award for Best Fiction Short in association with Network Ireland Television: Saul & I Written & Directed by Jon Beer and produced by Brian J. Falconer 

Best Short Documentary Award in association with TG4 – Nothing to Declare Directed by Garrett Daly 

The James Horgan Award for Best Animation Short –  Memento Mori Directed by Paul O’Flanagan, written by Paul O’Flanagan and Laura O’Flanagan, and produced By Louise Ní Chonchúir 

Individual Artist Awards 

Pitching Award – Giles Brody, Top Marks.  

Bingham Ray New Talent Award in association with Magnolia Pictures  – TJ O Grady Peyton 

Feature Film Awards 

Inaugural Young Audience Award – RIDE THE WAVE

Peripheral Visions Award – EL PLANETA

Best Irish Documentary – PURE GRIT

Best Irish First Feature – FOSCADH 

Best Irish Film (in association with Danu Media) – HERE BEFORE

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