6 February 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Irish cinema at the centre of the action as Galway Film Fleadh launches its 34th Programme
21 Jun 2022 : Nathan Griffin
Galway Film Fleadh
Featuring a spectacular, packed programme of the very best of Irish and international cinema, Galway Film Fleadh has launched the full line-up for its 34th edition.

All roads lead to the West this July 5th-10th as the Fleadh celebrates filmmakers, storytellers, and the enduring power of cinema. 

“There are 80 sensational International and Irish feature films selected for this year’s edition. A quarter of those are World Premieres,” said Will Fitzgerald, the Fleadh’s Director of Programming. “32 of the selected films are from debut feature directors and there are also over 100 new shorts. As ever, we strive to be a springboard for new talent, and to elevate diverse and emerging voices in cinema.” 

Long established as a major platform for new Irish cinema, there are an impressive 32 new Irish films, with 18 World Premieres and 18 debut features. These include the World Premiere of director Declan Recks’ Tarrac, an intimate character drama set in the Kerry Gaeltacht. The latest entry in the current wave of Scannáin Ghaeilge spearheaded by Cine4, the film stars Kelly Gough, Lorcan Crantich, and Cillian Ó Gairbhí. Tarrac follows Aoife Ní Bhraoin, who returns home to help her father recover from a heart attack. Over the course of a summer, Aoife gets pulled back into the competitive world of rowing in Naomhóg boats. As the big final race approaches, fifteen years of suppressed grief, anger, and sadness threaten to derail her chances of success.  

One of the nine nominees for the Fleadh’s Bingham Ray New Talent Award, Éanna Hardwicke (SmotherNormal People) stars in two World Premieres at this year’s event. Hardwicke joins young multi-hyphenate Ollie West in his feature debut alongside David O’Hara (BraveheartLuther) in the World Premiere of Michael Kinirons’ drama, The Sparrow. Shot by Richard Kendrick in West Cork, The Sparrow follows a teenage boy in a remote fishing village, wrestling with guilt after he keeps the truth of a tragic accident a secret. 

Hardwicke also stars alongside fellow New Talent Award nominee Danielle Galligan (Shadow and BoneGame of Thrones) in Lakelands, in which he plays young Gaelic footballer, Cian who struggles to come to terms with a career-ending injury. Cian must rethink his path in a community where Gaelic football is a religion and identity is defined by what you can do on the pitch. 

Renowned Irish artist Aideen Barry will be bringing her debut feature film Klostės to the Fleadh. A black-and-white film merging early cinematic techniques including stop motion animation, Klostės was created through collaboration with hundreds of citizens of the inter-war modernist city of Kaunas in Lithuania. Other less traditional narrative pieces include the World Premieres of experimental filmmaker Dean Kavanagh’s first narrative feature Hole in the Head and visual artist Bryony Dunne’s docu-fiction piece, Surrender Your Horns.  

Documentary fans will have tough choices to make when selecting from the Fleadh’s robust line-up. Irish biopics include portraits of Sinéad O’Connor (Nothing Compares), activist Fr. Des Wilson (Fr. Des – the Way He Saw It), and author Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Clouded Reveries). 

The controversial beliefs of pro-nuclear energy activists are explored in Frankie Fenton’s documentary Atomic Hope: Inside the Pro-Nuclear Movement. Filmed internationally over a ten year period, the activists believe we need to urgently re-address our feelings on nuclear power if we are to have any hope in decarbonizing our energy systems before the effects of catastrophic climate change wreak havoc. 

China is in the grip of ‘pianomania’ in Gary Lennon’s latest documentary Piano Dreams, which chronicles three young musicians and their families as they attempt to realise their dreams in the competitive world of Chinese piano. 

The MTV-produced doc Afghan Dreamers will make its World Premiere followed by a Q&A with director David Greenwald (The Blech Effect) and guests. Afghan Dreamers follows an all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan who risk their lives to prove they can have a future as more than just teenage brides. Working in secret under Taliban rule, the high school-aged team members face immense odds and ever-present danger to change perceptions in their male-dominated culture.  

The World Cinema line-up features films from 30 different countries, with strong influence from both Finland and Ukraine. In the Finnish comedy Bad Women, a busload of Russian sex workers seek sanctuary in a traditional parish community hall. In Finnish director Alli Haapasalo’s Sundance debut Girl Picture, Aamu Milonoff (Netflix’s Deadwind) plays Mimmi, who experiences the earth shattering effects of falling in love with Emma, while her best friend Rönkkö goes on a quest to find something she's never experienced before: pleasure.

In solidarity with Ireland’s new Ukrainian community, four new features from the still-productive Ukrainian film community present stories and themes that have taken on new resonance in light of the Russian invasion. The Fleadh will close with Carol of the Bells, a period drama whose story of survival amidst occupation in pre & post-WWII Ukraine takes on new resonance amid the current war. The film will be presented by director Olesya Morgunets-Isaenko and the lead actor Yana Koroliova, who now lives in Ireland. 

Acclaimed Luxembourgish actress Vicky Krieps will be in town to present actor & filmmaker Mathieu Amalric’s (The Diving BellButterflyThe Grand Budapest Hotel) latest feature Hold Me Tight, in which she plays a woman who abruptly abandons her family home. Krieps, best known for playing Alma Elson, the leading role in the Academy Award-nominated film Phantom Thread (2017) was nominated for the 2022 César Award for the role.  

The 34th Fleadh’s “Return Into The West” motif is encapsulated by a cast & crew reunion of Into the West (1992) on its 30th anniversary. An iconic Irish film, the award-winning family adventure follows brothers Tito and Ossie on their runaway journey to hold onto their mythical horse Tír na nÓg, and fulfil their dreams of becoming cowboys. The Fleadh has announced a Sunday matinée of Into the West, followed by a conversation with scriptwriter Jim Sheridan (My Left FootThe FieldIn America), director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireDonnie BrascoFour Weddings and a Funeral), and other key creative cast & crew who brought the film to life. 

Other classics screening include John Huston’s 1972 sports drama Fat City on the occasion of it 50th year. And the subjects of two new documentaries at the Fleadh Sunset Boulevard (1950), as features in Boulevard! A Hollywood Story and Eat the Peach (1986), as featured in The Artist and the Wall of Death.  

The Fleadh boasts fourteen programmes of short films, comprised of over 100 Irish and International shorts, all competing for the Fleadh’s Oscar® qualifying prizes. This year also features a late-night shorts programme for the first time, focusing on horror themed shorts, to round out the festival’s genre section. Rounding out the premieres and Q+A’s are a range of industry events, panel discussions and public interviews.  

As the full programme for this year’s Fleadh was revealed, Chair of the Board of the Galway Film Fleadh Annie Doona said: “On behalf of myself and the Board of Galway Film Fleadh I am delighted to welcome you all to the Fleadh 2022. It's wonderful to be back to normal and to meet the industry and friends old and new face to face. The film industry in Ireland is thriving after a difficult few years and I'm so excited to see so many strong and diverse Irish films on show this year alongside some great industry events and panels. I look forward to saying hello to you all in Galway in July.”  

The 30th Galway Film Fleadh takes place from 5th – 10th July in the Town Hall Theatre and Pálás Cinema, Galway.  The Fleadh is supported by the Arts Council, Failte Ireland, Screen Ireland and Galway City Council. 

Click here for more information about tickets and further information for all films and events.

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