Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

A big hello from the 25th Galway Film Fleadh

The western event delivers fine cinema in sunny conditions

Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 22:06


Over the last few years, this fine event — currently enjoying its 25th edition — has had to endure some seriously damp weather. Not to put too fine a point on it, the sky rained its arse off in 2012 and 2011. What’s this? Like the rest of Ireland, Galway has been enjoying the sort of weather we usually expect to encounter on the Côte d’Azur. Actually, sod that!. It’s a bit hotter (and a lot dryer) in Galway than it was at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Anyway, enough of the meteorological chatter. The good news is that crowds are still flowing into the Silver Jubilee event. We met Gar O’Brien, festival programmer, on the steps of the Town Hall Theatre, and he was happy to jaw about some impressive coups. This year, the Fleadh tip-toed into the murky world of the “surprise film”. And they really pulled off something special. Enjoying only its second festival screening since Cannes, J C Chandor’s All is Lost – starring Robert Redford as a man adrift — proved to be the lucky-dip prize and one of its producers, the lovely Zachary Quinto, was there to introduce the flick. The current Mr Spock, who once lived in Galway, was here for a brace of Q & A sessions. Hats off, team Fleadh. That’s some nifty footwork.

There was also great buzz around Viko Nikci’s documentary Coming Home. Co-produced by our own David Collins, the picture follows one Angel Cordero as, after serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, he attempts to make his way in a greatly changed world. The response to the film was enormously positive.

Gar O’Brien beams between the pillars.

I met Gar before a screening of Donal Foreman’s rather splendid Out of Here. This is the latest film from the (ever-so-slightly vaingloriously named) Stalker Films. It’s a most peculiar film, but one I thought enormously successful. Fionn Walton plays a college dropout who returns to Dublin after a spell travelling about Asia. There is nothing you could call a plot. The hero wanders. He wanders some more. But the picture features hypnotically beautiful images and employs very sly, sideways humour throughout.

We’ll be offering a more in-depth analysis of the New Irish Cinema — always the Fleadh’s strongpoint — in Tuesday’s newspaper. But we can happily confirm that there are plenty of decent domestic pictures groping their way towards you.  Lance Daly’s Life’s a Breeze is a mainstream hoot that makes good use of the inimitable Pat Shortt. Here was Cuba is a fine documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Events end tomorrow with an unveiling of Stephen Brown’s take on John Banville’s The Sea. You should be here. But we will keep an eye on the screen in case you are otherwise engaged.