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Fleadh Round-Up: 36th edition kicks off this week in Galway with vibrant lineup
09 Jul 2024 : News Desk
Galway Film Fleadh Round-Up
The Galway Film Fleadh kicks off its 36th edition today, Tuesday 9th July, with the Irish premiere of the award-winning Kneecap, and the festival will run through to Sunday, 14th July.

As always, it's a dynamic lineup for the Fleadh, with a vibrant mix of Irish and international work – 94 features (including 52 Irish Premieres), 110 shorts, a selection of documentaries and other industry events taking place across Galway during the week.

In addition to Rich Peppiatt's Kneecap, which has received a rapturous reception since premiering at Sundance in February and will get its Irish cinema release from Wildcard in August, the Fleadh will see the premiere of major new documentary Mrs Robinson about the life of former President Mary Robinson, from One Million Dubliners filmmaker Aoife Kelleher. 

Irish language feature Fidil Ghorm (Blue Fiddle) - directed by Anne McCabe and written by Patricia Forde - is aimed at a family audience and premieres on Wednesday. Award-winning actress Eva Birthistle marks her directorial feature debut with Kathleen is Here, a drama about a young woman leaving foster care with a major Irish cast including Hazel Doupe, Clare Dunne, and Peter Coonan, which screens on Saturday evening.

The Fleadh has chosen Palestine as its Country of Focus for 2024, programming a number of films made in, and about, Palestine. The selection includes Oscar-nominated director Farah Nabulsi's The Teacher starring Muhammad Abed El Rahman and Imogen Poots, which screens on Thursday. Bassam Jarbawi’s Screwdriver, screening on Sunday, follows a Palestinian man released from an Israeli jail after 15 years. 

The festival will close on Sunday night with Mahdi Fleifel’s To a Land Unknown, which was the only Palestinian film screened at Cannes Film Festival this year. Fleifel's drama follows “Chatila and Reda, who are saving to pay for fake passports to get out of Athens. When Reda loses their hard-earned cash to his dangerous drug addiction, Chatila hatches an extreme plan, which involves them posing as smugglers and taking hostages….”

Other new Irish features debuting at the festival include Steve Reeves' The People Before starring Imelda May, Liz White, and Ray Fearon. In the film, written by Charlotte Northedge and Mike Oughton, “Jess and her husband, desperate for a fresh start, jump at the chance to buy a charming old house in the idyllic Suffolk countryside. But, the warm welcome they expect never comes. The tight-lipped locals harbour a dark secret about Maple House, and Jess soon realises their dream home might be a grave mistake.”

Also on Wednesday, Eoin O'Brien, Patrick Bergin, and Francis Magee star in Tom Waller's Kiss of the Con Queen, based on “the true story of the unbelievable scam that rocked Hollywood”, and quirky independent comedy Froggie, from Galway-based brothers Luke and Jake Morgan, sees brothers Fiachra and Tadgh hunting down their stolen childhood puppet.

Thursday night will see the premiere of Mark O'Connor's tense Amongst the Wolves, with a cast including Luke McQuillan, Daniel Fee, Aidan Gillen, and Jade Jordan. The film follows a homeless man in Dublin who develops a “fragile yet profound bond” with a young teenager on the run from a drug gang.

John Farrelly's The Ghost will also premiere on Thursday. Produced by Jim Sheridan, the film “unfolds in the bleak landscape of post-famine Ireland”, where Éamon and Máire “encounter inexplicable phenomena” while caring for a remote Georgian Mansion.

Friday's premieres include Paul Kennedy's crime drama Dead Man's Money starring Ciaran McMenamin, Pat Shortt, and Judith Roddy. Terry McMahon's new feature The Kiss of Death, produced in Nigeria and featuring English and Hausa dialogue, screens on Friday evening; as does Irish horror Oddity, from writer/director Damian McCarthy, winner of the Midnighter Audience Award at SXSW earlier this year.

On Saturday afternoon, audiences will have a chance to see Steven McKenna's feature Dreamtown, about a “delusional, aging rocker" who decides to rebuild his relationship with his musically talented son. Sam O'Mahony's The Wise Guy follows an 11-year old boy who discovers an exiled mobster on the run in the nearby woods and develops a strange friendship through “a shared love of nature and a passion for the F-word”.

Sunday's programme includes Dermot Malone's King Frankie starring Peter Coonan as a Dublin taxi driver who receives an unexpected visitor, sending him back to the worst day of the life. The film will be released by Wildcard Distribution later this year.

There's also a terrific and diverse selection of Irish feature documentaries debuting at the festival. Wednesday's lineup includes Stephen Mazurek's Laoch: Defy the Odds, the inspiring story of Thomas McCague, Ireland's only powerlifter with dwarfism. Dónal Ó Céilleachair's Are We One traces the transmission of Zen Meditation through the life's work of Irish-American Zen Master Robert Kennedy.

Screening on Thursday, Ross Killeen's Don't Forget to Remember is “an artist's exploration of the fragility of memory, and the lived experience of his mother's Alzheimer's” featuring the artist Asbestos. Robert Manson's Afternoon in June is “an homage to unknown and long-forgotten amateur filmmakers featuring three decades of rediscovered footage… matched with a new bespoke soundscape”. Neasa Ní Chianáin's The Alexander Complex “unravels a bizarre tale of intrigue, politics and money as a group of gentlemanly explorers come together to solve the mystery of Alexander the Great's missing tomb".

On Friday, Terraforma, from filmmakers Kevin Brennan and Laurence Durkin, is “the story of how the remote desert island of Ascension was ‘terraformed’ by Victorian scientists into a tropical paradise”. Alessandra Celesia's The Flats captures New Lodge, a Catholic neighbourhood in Belfast marked by social abandonment, yet a proud sense of belonging and idealism. Trevor Whelan's Home: The Story of Zak Moradi follows the Leitrim hurler's journey from a Kurdish refugee camp to Irish sports superstardom. 

Also screening on Friday, Sandy Kennedy's At Sea is described as “a hypnotic, hallucinatory reverie at the edge of liminal space”. Ciaran Cassidy's Housewife of the Year tells the story of Ireland's treatment of women through the prism of a surreal, live-televised competition that has to be seen to be believed. The Song Cycle sees veteran musician and filmmaker Nick Kelly set off to cycle from Dublin to Glastonbury, to prove it's possible to tour live music without driving.

On Saturday, Conor Walsh: Selected Piano Works sees director Keith Walsh celebrate the work of the celebrated late musician, who died in 2016. Iarsmaí (Remnants), from filmmaker Damian McCann, looks at Ireland's role as a colony through the issue of stolen skulls in TCD. Jesse Gilbert's Gleann sees the filmmaker turn his attention to the remote valley where he was raised, using both digital and Super 8 footage to create a time capsule to a changing valley and country. On Sunday, Sara Sulej's Patchwork Family explores the history of beloved performers Galway Street Club.

Major international guests attending the festival included acclaimed British actors Brian Cox and Tim Roth. Cox, star of HBO's Succession, will participate in a Public Interview in associated with IFTA on Sunday, hosted by RTE's Sean Rocks. Meanwhile, Roth will be the subject of the festival's Actors Masterclass moderated by Maureen Hughes, and attend the premiere of his latest film Poison; while Singapore director Anthony Chen will participate in the Directors Masterclass and attend the Irish premiere of his film The Breaking Ice.

Click here for further details on the programme, and to purchase tickets, on the Galway Film Fleadh website.

Exclusive: Official poster revealed for The Wise Guy ahead of world premiere at Galway Film Fleadh
Fleadh Round-Up: 36th edition kicks off this week in Galway with vibrant lineup
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