Actors Saoirse Ronan and Zachary Quinto for Galway Film Fleadh

Bid for Unesco city of film designation also due to be made

On the eve of its annual film fleadh, Galway is set to bid to become Ireland's first dedicated Unesco city of film.

Details of the bid to join the Unesco creative cities network are due to be outlined next week when Galway marks the 20th anniversary of the Irish Film Board.

Several days later, Irish international actress Saoirse Ronan and American actor and film producer Zachary Quinto - alias Dr Spock in Star Trek: Into the Darkness - will be among participants at the 25th annual Galway Film Fleadh, which published its programme tonight.

Animation, human rights cinema, and new work by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied audiences are themes of this year’s programme which will open with the Spanish comedy-drama Tasting Menu on July 9th.


Directed by Roger Gual, Tasting Menu's cast, led by Spanish stars Jan Cornet and Claudia Bassols, includes Irish actors Fionnuala Flanagan and Stephen Rea.

The festival's animation focus involves the Irish premiere of Disney Pixar's Monsters University, and the much-praised Luxembourg co-production, Ernest and Celestine.

Moon Man, a new animation feature by Schesch Filmkreation and Kilkenny’s Cartoon Salooon, will also be screened as part of a packed programme that includes documentaries, new Irish shorts and community film.

Kim Longinotto’s Salma opens the human rights segment on July 10th. It follows the struggle of a southern Indian poet, named only Salma, who was locked up in a small room for 25 years.

The story of Nelson Mandela's release from prison in South Africa is also told in Plot for Peace by Mandy Jacobson and Carlos Aguilo.

The failure of western pharmaecutical companies to provide affordable AIDS medication for the developing world is documented in Fire in the Blood .

Human rights will also be a theme of a ten-day cinema, human rights and advocacy (CRHA) summer school opening on Thursday at NUI Galway's Huston School of Film and Digital Media. The school programme includes a three-day human rights event, Films That Matter, organised by Amnesty International and Galway's One World Centre.

The following week's international fleadh guest of honour is Saoirse Ronan, while masterclasses will be given by Zachary Quinto (for actors), Julien Temple (directors) and Daniel Waters of Batman Returns (screenwriters). The programme also includes a tribute to James Morris, outgoing chair of the Irish Film Board.

The new film board chair, Bill O’Herlihy, will visit Galway next week to mark the board’s 20th birthday and to hear details of the Unesco city of film bid.

The city of film designation is relatively new, with Britain’s Bradford becoming the first in 2009. Criteria include having notable film-related infrastructure and historic links to film. The city’s new Picture Palace arthouse cinema, which may be central to the bid, is currently under construction.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times