Galway Film Fleadh unveils this year’s ‘outdoor summer’ programme

The mainstage will be an outdoor cinema with all events available to stream online

Gabriel Byrne can be seen as a boozy professor exiting the world to the strains of Leonard Cohen in Death of a Ladies’ Man

Gabriel Byrne can be seen as a boozy professor exiting the world to the strains of Leonard Cohen in Death of a Ladies’ Man

 

The programme for the 2021 Galway Film Fleadh has been announced. This year’s event, running from July 20th to July 25th, is to be a hybrid affair – combining outdoor screenings with online content. The organisers have confirmed that all films, Q&As and industry events will be streamed from the Film Fleadh website.

“It is the Fleadh’s wish that those who cannot, or who aren’t yet ready for travel in the current phase of the pandemic, will enjoy the festival from the comfort of their own homes,” a statement confirmed.

The Fleadh, which for more than 30 years has defined the centre of the Irish cinema year, is consciously getting on board with Ireland’s much-vaunted “outdoor summer”. The mainstage this year will be an outdoor cinema in Father Burke Park. Seventeen of the Fleadh’s features and three of the short film programmes will screen to an al fresco audience of about 200 socially distanced visitors. Audio is to be delivered via wireless headphones.

The festival will unveil 45 new features and more than 200 shorts over six busy days. Stacey Gregg’s Here Before, a psychological thriller from Northern Ireland starring Andrea Riseborough, will open the event. Untold Secrets, a new documentary that gives voice to the survivors of Irish mother and baby homes, will bring proceedings to a close.

The Fleadh has long been the prime spot to launch new Irish features and, even in this unusual year, domestic content continues to thrive.

Seán Breathnach’s Foscadh, an Irish-language coming-of-age story, adapts Dónal Ryan’s novel The Thing About December. Dogged Irish film-maker Graham Cantwell returns with a drama entitled Who We Love. Among the more intriguing independent productions is Conor O’Toole’s Bicycle Thieves: Pumped Up.

“The film is a magical-realist action comedy about a pizza delivery girl whose bike gets stolen and she has to find it and steal it back, preferably before she gets evicted,” O’Toole, an Irish film-maker based in Glasgow, told me. “Not only does her bike get stolen but weirdly the handlebars are taken off it a number of times which, if I remember correctly, happened to you at one point too?”

It’s good that the vital issues are being covered. Gabriel Byrne can be seen as a boozy professor exiting the world to the strains of Leonard Cohen in Death of a Ladies’ Man. Darragh Carey’s A Brixton Tale goes among that colourful London locale to tell a tale of gentrification.

The outdoor screenings will take in international animated classics – both ancient and modern. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s Wolfwalkers, Oscar nominee and recent winner of best film at the Iftas, will be screening as Gaeilge. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away will also be breathing the Corrib breeze.

This version of the Fleadh feels very much like a transitional event between the pandemic era and the permanently altered normality. The variety is still there. There will be dedicated sections for international documentaries, LGBT+ cinema, music docs, genre cinema and mid-length programming. The festival’s Oscar Qualifying short film competition is back. But, as was the case last year, the audience will be largely at home.

“Outdoor summer is here, finally, for everyone,” Will Fitzgerald, the Fleadh’s programming director, said. “Cultural programming and events for all ages have been underserved in the reopening narrative thus far, but for six glorious days this July, there will be a window into all corners of the world from Father Burke Park.”

The Galway Film Fleadh runs from July 20th to July 25th

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