Vanessa Redgrave and Marisa Tomei to appear at Galway Film Fleadh

30-year anniversary festival moves into the newly opened Pálás cinema for some screenings

UK actress Vanessa Redgrave attends the presentation of the documentary ‘Sea sorrow - The pain of the sea’ in Milan. Photograph: Daniel Dal Zennaro/EPA

UK actress Vanessa Redgrave attends the presentation of the documentary ‘Sea sorrow - The pain of the sea’ in Milan. Photograph: Daniel Dal Zennaro/EPA


Those old enough to remember the birth of the Galway Film Fleadh may be surprised to learn that it celebrates its 30th edition next month. Younger film enthusiasts, comfortable with the event’s status as an institution, may not have guessed that it first emerged so recently.

The programme for the 2018 event, which runs from July 10th until July 15th, was launched on Thursday evening at the city’s Galmont Hotel. Will Fitzgerald, taking over as programmer after a successful run by Gar O’Brien, revealed that 107 films would screen and that 55 of those are from first-time directors.

The programme confirms a continuity of vision while announcing some new directions. The festival will, for the first time, move into the newly opened Pálás cinema on Merchants Road, but gala screenings will still play at the Town Hall Theatre, the Fleadh’s natural hub.

Special guests include Vanessa Redgrave and Marisa Tomei. Recently seen on screen as Spider-Man’s Aunt May, Ms Tomei won an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny and has also excelled in The Wrestler and In the Bedroom. She will attend a screening of upcoming drama Behold My Heart, in which she stars alongside Charlie Plummer, and will receive a Galway Hooker Award, the festival’s honorary gong. In an impressive display of inter-festival collegiate spirit, Ms Redgrave, who had to cancel her appearance at the recent Audi Dublin International Film Festival because of snow, will receive both the Galway Hooker and Adiff’s equivalent Volta award. The English actor’s belated debut as director, Sea Sorrow, will screen at the Fleadh.

A Market and a festival

Since its inception in 1989, the Fleadh – a busy market as well as a festival – has worked hard to highlight the best new Irish features. “There were very few films at one stage,” Miriam Allen, managing director and co-founder, told The Irish Times a few years ago. “Even now, there are films that have gone through the usual route via the Irish Film Board. Then there are films that have gone through the grassroots route.”

Once again, the Fleadh launches a series of intriguing domestic releases. The upcoming edition begins with the world premiere of Morgan Bushe’s The Belly of the Whale. The irresistible Pat Shortt stars in a comic thriller about a wild teenager (Lewis MacDougall) who seeks to reclaim his family’s caravan park.

Other domestic features receiving their world premieres include Luke Morgan’s Sooner or Later, a tale of two older people seeking freedom, Declan McGrath’s Lomax in Ireland, a documentary on legendary musicologist Alan Lomax, and veteran Cathal Black’s Five Red Roses, a study of Irish feminist Máirín deBurca.

Viko Nikci’s Cellar Door, another world premiere, stars Karen Hassan, Catherine Walker and Mark O’Halloran in the story of a woman, contained by the Magdalene Laundries, who insists upon searching for her son. The busy documentarian Ross Whitaker will premiere Katie, a film on boxer Katie Taylor that is sure to be the hottest of hot tickets. The popular actor – and more recently acclaimed photographer – Hugh O’Conor makes a move into direction with Metal Heart. O’Conor’s film finds roles for rising star Jordanne Jones and for the increasingly ubiquitous Moe Dunford.

The festival will close with a screening of Lance Daly’s famine drama Black 47, already a smash at the Berlin Film Festival. Attendees will also get a glance at RBG, the hit US documentary on US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and fresh from Cannes, Mark Cousin’s wonderful The Eyes of Orson Welles, a study of that director’s work through his sketches and paintings.

To confirm that the phrase “something for everyone” is more than waffle, the 30th Fleadh will also give punters a first chance to see Pixar’s incoming The Incredibles 2.

And there’s plenty more where those came from.

The Galway Film Fleadh runs from July 10th until July 15th.