'The Runway' is best of Irish at film fleadh


THE 22ND Galway Film Fleadh ended last night with an awards ceremony that honoured a controversial documentary and a warmly received full-length debut.

The best Irish feature award (in association with Volta Video on Demand) went to Ian Power’s The Runway. Starring Demián Bichir and Kerry Condon, the picture – imbued with the spirit of Frank Capra – follows a young boy as he makes friends with a stranded Colombian aviator in rural Ireland. Power has hitherto been a highly lauded maker of short films.

Best feature documentary went to Risteard Ó Domhnaill’s The Pipe. Four years in the making, the picture concerns itself with the people of Rossport, Co Mayo, as they wrestle with Shell’s plans to lay a gas pipeline there.

Runner-up in the best Irish feature category was Carmel Winter’s Snap, a hard-hitting drama of abuse. Nic Dunlop’s Burma Soldier, a study of activism in that Asian country, secured second place in the documentary race.

A wide range of awards for short films were handed out. Domhnall Gleeson, son of Brendan Gleeson and star of Sensation, Tom Hall’s controversial new feature, won the Tiernan McBride award for best short drama with his film Noreen. Mister Heaney: A Wee Portrait,directed and produced by David Quin, won the James Horgan Award for best animation.

Lelia Doolan, a distinguished producer and festival stalwart, was presented with the event’s achievement award, the Galway Hooker.

The Galway Film Fleadh is regarded as the centrepiece of the nation’s cinematic summer. Under the control of its managing director Miriam Allen, this year’s festival offered eight world premieres of Irish films and many more domestic premieres of home-produced and international titles.

Other films receiving warm welcomes included PJ Dillon’s Rewind, starring Amy Huberman as a recovering alcoholic; and Paul Fraser’s My Brothers, which opened the festival last Tuesday.

Felim Mac Dermott, the fleadh’s programmer, expressed particular pride that he was able to schedule Fraser’s film. Two years ago, Will Collins, the writer of My Brothers, won the Fleadh’s script-pitching award with his brief precis for the comic-drama: three brothers travel to Ballybunion in an attempt to replace a watch owned by their dying father.

A film-maker named Len Collin will be hoping to emulate Collins’s success in 2012. Collin won this year’s pitching competition – during which film-makers attempt to sell a script idea in just 500 words – with a project entitled Dumpailte.