Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The Guard is a smash (and those Fleadh results in full)

This weeks’s box-office news brings interesting tidings.  Both The Guard and The Tree of Life have gone bananas. To deal with the Irish beast first, John Michael McDonagh’s film hoovered up in excess of half a million euro at the …

Tue, Jul 12, 2011, 19:23


This weeks’s box-office news brings interesting tidings.  Both The Guard and The Tree of Life have gone bananas. To deal with the Irish beast first, John Michael McDonagh’s film hoovered up in excess of half a million euro at the nation’s cinemas over the weekend. To put this in perspective, the film managed to make it to the number five spot in the combined UK and Ireland chart on its domestic takings alone. (The picture does not emerge in the UK for another month or so.) Indeed, it was the highest new entry in the chart. A great many movie slots on UK radio shows are going to be very confused by that news. Box-office experts may contradict me, but I would be astonished if an Irish-only release has ever charted so high in the combined territories hit parade.

So, how did they manage it? It’s a good movie, but plenty of  good Irish movies have bombed. People adore Brendan Gleeson (why wouldn’t they?), but he’s been in his fair share of commercial disappointments. It helps that there’s a movie star in the thing. Don Cheadle may not be all that famous, but his presence assures punters that this is a proper film. It also helps that the distributors picked their release date very cannily. With the decks cleared for some wizard film next week, there was plenty of space for a smaller picture to stretch out and breathe.

One assumes that — following that kerfuffle we won’t mention again — 2oth Century Fox had a similar plan for The Tree of Life. That also paid off. The picture’s limited release had been a roaring success. Despite the fact that the thing doesn’t really have a story and the characters spend a great deal of time chatting with God, Malick’s confounding picture took £406,000 in the UK and Ireland. That works out at a stonking per-screen average of £5,414. The Guardian reports that the Curzon Soho — by no means an enormous cinema — somehow managed to draw in £18,000. It will be interesting to see, once curiosity wanes and word gets out about its oddness, whether the film develops any serious legs.

The Guard also managed to pick up the audience prize for best Irish film at the Galway Film Fleadh. The best first feature was shared between Darragh Byrne’s likable Parked and Terry McMahon’s plain barmy Charlie Casanova. The results in full are below. Congratulations to all. This list is pasted from an early press release, so please excuse slightly messy formatting.

The Best Irish Feature Award:


Director John Michael McDonagh

Producer Andrew Lowe & Ed Guiney

The Best Feature Documentary in association with Eugene F. Collins presented by Andrea Martin

In Second Place: DON’T ASK DON’T TELL

Director: John C Walsh

Producer: Tara Power, Joselyn Allen, Daryl Roth


Directed & Produced by Lelia Doolan

The Best First Feature has been awarded to joint winners:


Directed by Darragh Byrne

Produced by Jacqueline Kerrin & Dominic Wright


Directed & Produced by Terry McMahon.

Winner of the Galway Film Fleadh Pitching Award

Rioghach Ni Ghrioghair “Death Rattle”


The Best First Animation Award in association with the Cartoon Saloon – Presented by Paul Young

Second Place: The Art of Making Friends

Directed & Produced by Paul McNulty

Winner: SIGNS

Directed & Produced by Vincent Gallagher

The James Horgan Award for Best Animation in association with Telegael

Special  Mention: Children in Direct Provision

Director – Galway Refugee Support Group

Producer – Sharon Lynch and children resident in Direct Provision Centre’s

Second Place: The Gentleman’s Guide to Villainy

Director: Aidan Mcteer

Producer: Aurelie Gauthier


Director: Kealan O’Rourke

Producer: Brian Willis

The Tiernan McBride Award for Best Short Drama sponsored by Waveform Studios:



Director: Tom Sullivan

Producer: Aislinn Ni Chuinneagain



Director:  Phil Harrison

Producer:  Lisa Barros D’Sa, & Phil Harrison

The Best First Short Drama in association with Mazars presented by Paul Mee:


Direcctor:  Peter Mc Donald

Producer:  Eimear O’Kane

The Best Short Documentary Award in association with Studio Solas Teo

Special Mention

Halls Without Walls

Directed & Producer by Mia Mullarkey

Winner: Needle Exchange

Director – Colm Quinn

Producer – Andrew Freedma

The Donal Gilligan Award for Best Cinematography in a Short Film.

Michael Lavelle for Mummy’s Little Helper

The International Federation of Film Societies is proud to award for the first time the Don Quixote Award:

WINNER: The Boy Who Lived In A Bubble

Director: Kealan O’Rourke

Producer: Brian Willis

30 Second Film Festival Judges Award