The programme for the 28th Galway Film Fleadh, which begins on July 5th, has been launched. Highlights of this year's event include Bobby Sands: 66 Days, an already acclaimed documentary on the hunger striker, the first screening of Richie Smyth's The Siege of Jadotville, a much-anticipated historical drama starring Jamie Dornan, and Kit Ryan's Property of the State, a study of the murderer Brendan O'Donnell.
The Irish actor Ruth Negga, currently soaking up praise for the TV series Preacher, will be in Galway for an actor's masterclass. Kirsten Smith, who wrote the smash Legally Blonde, will host a screenwriting masterclass, and director Jim Sheridan will also be speaking to his admirers.
"We have three venues and offer about 90 feature films," Gar O'Brien, the Fleadh's programmer told The Irish Times. "So programming is a challenge. It's been an extraordinary year for Irish film and we are happy to have wall-to-wall Irish premieres."
The Fleadh has established a reputation for launching the best in Irish features. Celebrated domestic films such as John Carney's Once and Gerard Barrett's Glassland made their debuts at the festival.
O'Brien and Miriam Allen, the managing director, have pulled off quite a coup in securing the first ever screening of The Siege of Jadotville. Produced by Netflix, the film tells the story of the Irish UN battalion that endured a siege during the 1961 disturbances in the Congo. Doran stars opposite Guillaume Canet and Emmanuelle Seigner.
"It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get it," O'Brien says. "There is a great connection with Ireland in that story. And a lot of people connected with it are living here and in Athlone. It's a cracking historical action film."
Property of the State tackles an extremely sensitive subject. The film tells the story of Brendan O'Donnell, who killed Imelda Riney and her son in 1994, through the eyes of his sister. There is potential for controversy here.
“It’s not in any way salacious,” O’Brien explained. “It’s an indictment of failures at the state level. It’s quite a balanced film”
Other Irish titles include Mark O'Connor's urban thriller Cardboard Gangsters, Ciaran Creagh's In View and Ken Wardrop's Mom & Me. There will be a focus on Finnish cinema and a focus on Women in Film.
“We have never had a deficit,” Gar continued. “We have a very small team that works very hard. We keep things as tight as possible and live within our means.”
The Galway Film Fleadh runs from July 5th until July 10th.