Olivia Colman, Sinéad O’Connor and Mike Newell: Galway Film Fleadh announces its 2022 line-up

The 34th festival, with the event’s first fully in-person programme since 2019, features 20 world premieres and 33 Irish premieres

Galway Film Fleadh will be kicking off in style next month with the world premiere of Emer Reynolds’s eagerly anticipated Joyride. Starring Olivia Colman, who won an Oscar for her role in The Favourite, the road movie concerns a young man who, stealing a taxi, finds a woman in the back seat with her baby. The odd threesome end up on a wild and dangerous journey across Ireland that puts them in all sorts of peril. Reynolds, winner of an Emmy for her documentary The Farthest, is also one of the nation’s most respected film editors. “Joyride is full of heart, with a story that eschews cynicism, and is tenderly told,” says Will Fitzgerald, the Fleadh’s programme director.

This year’s festival, the 34th, is returning to a full in-person programme for the first time since 2019. Its programme, which has just been announced, features 20 world premieres and 33 Irish premieres. One of the hottest tickets is sure to be Kathryn Ferguson’s Nothing Compares. A critical smash at Sundance Film Festival, the documentary examines the turbulent career of the singer Sinéad O’Connor. Ferguson’s film (shot before the terrible death of O’Connor’s son Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor) features contributions from a variety of artists and a new interview with the performer herself. “When Sinéad burst into my consciousness it felt like a door had been kicked open,” Ferguson told Women and Hollywood. “Here was a bold Irish woman who said the things others didn’t feel they could say and she said them loudly.”

Among the world premieres, much attention will be directed towards Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney’s buzzed-about Lakelands. Eanna Hardwicke, who has already excelled in Normal People and the horror Vivarium, stars as a young Gaelic footballer facing up to a career-threatening injury. Shot in Granard, Co Longford, the film promises an anatomy of rural life. “We’ve always felt that the world of small-town GAA would make a good backdrop for a film, and we look forward to sharing it,” Higgins says.

Also making their first appearances anywhere on the planet are Declan Recks’s Tarrac!, a tale of Naomhóg racing from the coast of Kerry; Aisling Trí Neallaimh’s Clouded Reveries, a study of the admired writer Doireann Ní Ghríofa; Vincent Kinnaird’s Fr Des: The Way I See It, examining the life of Father Des Wilson, a significant figure during the Troubles; and Liza Bolton’s horror flick York Witches Society.


Antonia Campbell-Hughes, hitherto best known as an actor, makes her feature debut with the experimental It Is In Us All. “As a debuting director, Campbell-Hughes proves she has style to burn, building a doomy, stomach-churn atmosphere of incipient disaster in which the bleak beauty of this isolated part of Ireland,” Jessica Kiang of Variety reported from the South by Southwest Festival in Texas. Set in Donegal, It Is In Us All has its Irish premiere in Galway.

Founded in 1989, Galway Film Fleadh quickly evolved into the prime spot to premiere domestic features. John Carney’s Once, subsequently an Oscar winner, is among the films to have debuted by the Corrib. Such luminaries as Paul Schrader, Peter O’Toole, Richard Attenborough and Michael Moore have been guests at previous editions.

The 34th Fleadh, whose chief executive remains the indomitable Miriam Allen, welcomes visitors such as Vicky Krieps, star of Phantom Thread, Old and the recent Cannes smash Corsage, and the veteran British director Mike Newell. Newell, known for Dance with a Stranger, Donnie Brasco and Four Weddings and a Funeral, will be part of a panel convened to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his acclaimed Irish film Into the West. Jim Sheridan, who wrote the drama, will be there to discuss a key project in the history of the nation’s now-vibrant cinema. Fleadh visitors can also catch a screening of the lovely 1986 Irish classic Eat the Peach.

International features include two highly acclaimed documentaries on writers: Loving Highsmith, an effort to untangle Patricia Highsmith; and Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time, a look at the science-fiction legend. Christina Kallas’s Paris is in Harlem takes many characters through a busy day in uptown New York City. Mathieu Amalric’s Hold Me Tight adapts Claudine Galea’s play I Am Coming Back from Far.

Acknowledging the current surge in inflation, the organisers announced they will be lowering prices to make the Fleadh “one of the summer’s most affordable, entertaining, and inclusive events”. And it hardly matters if the weather doesn’t hold up. Attendees will be safe inside the Town Hall Theatre or the lovely Pálás Cinema.

Galway Film Fleadh runs from Tuesday, July 5th, until Sunday, July 10th

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist