My Galway Film Fleadh horror
Tim Fleming, who shot John Carney’s Once, creates an icy limbo that suggests life on some more than usually forbidding satellite. And the malign creatures are impressively unsettling. Certain expositions suggest that Foy, who also wrote the piece, has once again got faeries on the brain. But nobody is likely to confuse the hoodies with Tinker Bell. This is a really special piece of work.
With all this urban mayhem and supernatural jiggery-pokery afoot, one could be forgiven for suspecting that Irish film-makers had finally abandoned interest in the quieter affairs of rural Ireland. Happily, young Gerard Barrett was on hand with his masterful debut feature, Pilgrim Hill. At the premiere, Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan compared the picture to Michael Haneke’s upcoming Amour. This splendid picture almost lives up to that billing. Joe Mullins plays a farmer living a lonely life on the outskirts of a small town. He takes occasional trips to the pub. He pathetically contemplates the life he might have lived. He cares for his father – never seen by the audience – who has recently had a stroke.
Barrett demonstrates some admirably original thinking: the piece has some straight-to-camera sequences; it offers no nondiegetic music until a final, appalling catastrophe.
We nominate this brilliantly played film, with an apologetic nod to Citadel, as the best we saw at this year’s event.
Thumbs up are, however, also offered to the excellent closing film. James Marsh’s Shadow Dancer stars (of all people) the fine-featured Andrea Riseborough as a Northern Irish woman who, during the worst of the Troubles, finds herself being bullied into informing for the British secret services. Beginning with a knuckle-whiteningly tense dialogue-free sequence, Marsh – known for the documentary Man on Wire – makes something queasy and repellent of a story that could very easily have slipped into cheap sensationalism.
Shadow Dancer was a fitting end to a very encouraging fleadh. Next year is the 25th. We demand a mighty celebration.
* Shadow DancerJames Marsh’s Northern Ireland-themed film offered a fitting end to a very encouraging fleadh.
* Pilgrim HillGerard Barrett’s masterful debut, with much original thinking, was the festival’s best.
* CitadelCiarán Foy’s film, set in a supernaturally bleak Scottish housing estate, was the best Irish shocker.
* Lón sa SpéirSeán Ó Cualáin’s documentary about a famous photograph accommodates moving meditations on the immigrant experience and the lasting power of hastily snapped images.