GearrScannain caught up with Galway Film Fleadh’s short film programmer Eibh Collins to talk about the selection of short films that will be on offer at the 30th Galway Film Fleadh this July.
GS: So what have you got in store for us?
We have lots of lovely shorts for you this year. We have 8 programmes of Irish shorts, 3 world programmes, and then 4 programmes of retrospective work from the last 30 years, and 2 other other out-of-competition programmes on top of that. It’s a mad mix of stuff. There’s a lot of really good documentaries. We have two doc programmes this year when we usually only have the one. All the world stuff is really exciting. And the local ones. There’s an out-of-competition programme called ‘Way Out West’ which highlights local films. It’s a big one.
When did you start reviewing the submissions?
I started pulling the retrospective in January. Just one or two days a week putting stuff together. Then full-time from May. It’s been a quick enough turnaround to get everything in and done. This year we got nearly 600 submissions. On top of that there’s the Screen Ireland programme and a new programme where European film festivals have nominated films to be shown, and there there’s other random bits which all pile up.
And do you watch them all or divide them out?
I watch them all several times. And then everybody else watches batches of them. Then they go to the screening panel and they say yes or no and then it moves up and down from there. It goes from 600 down to 300 and then you try to go from there. Finding themes and space for the films to fit the programmes.
Then do you have a prescribed run-time for each programme?
Each slot is two hours. And you have to be careful within that. We have one this year called Detainment, it’s wonderful, and it’s 30 minutes. It’s like a reenactment of the Jamie Bulger case in the UK. So you have to be careful where you place that as it bleaker than a lot of the others. It’s a balancing act. Which people don’t realise, that kind of mood-board in the curation of it and where you are starting and finishing. You can’t just have a really dark one and then a really funny one. It’d be like whiplash.
Are there any ones that we should watch out for?
Of course. They are all must-see! I’m really excited for the retrospective. We have 50-60 films on for free where people can go in and watch them, particularly for all of the students to be able to go and watch hours and hours of content. That will be a few doors up from the Town Hall Theatre in a venue called The Black Gate.It has its own little screening room upstairs, which we have taken from Wednesday to Sunday, and we are just going to have 5 hours of shorts on each day. So people can go in, grab a glass of wine and watch some films. It’ll be very relaxed, you can go in and out, and it’ll be for free in a nice environment. It’s as many of our past winners from the last 30 years as I have been able to get my hands on.
The 30th Galway Film Fleadh will take place across Galway city from 10th to 15th July. Over the past 30 years, Galway’s local film festival has grown to become an internationally renowned celebration of independent film and the premiere destination for Irish filmmakers to debut their work. In celebration of this milestone, this year’s Film Fleadh will have the biggest line-up of feature films, documentaries, animations and filmmaker talks in years, as well as continuing to foreground the best in cinema produced in and around Galway. Popular film programmes including music documentaries, family films, human rights cinema, short films and LGBTQ+ cinema will all return with some of the boldest emerging voices and some Fleadh-favourite directors too.
GearrScannain’s selected highlights:
Director Brendan McCallion will bring his IADT graduate short film Backwater to the Fleadh. The film was co-written with producer Frank O’Malley and tells the story of a young man who is looking after his sickly father in the depths of rural Ireland, and succumbs to the isolation that it can possess. His sister, Dylan, has returned home to help him escape, but letting go of things is much more difficult than both of them of them imagined. Backwater stars Patrick Loftus, Sophie Campbell, Padraic McGinley, and Slaney Power.
Bittersweet – the Rise of Diabetes is a short documentary directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by both Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films. The film captures the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients, and warns against this troubling epidemic facing our population. It follows the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it. Over the course of the documentary, we also discover ground breaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Prof David Brayden and his team at UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body.
Noted Irish writer/director Terry McMahon returns to the Fleadh with his latest short film Brand Ireland: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which is produced by Jeff Doyle (The Legend of Harry and Ambrose). McMahon’s Patrick’s Day shared the prize for Best Irish Feature in 2015.
Award-winning writer/director Vincent Lambe (Broken Things) brings a harrowing drama to Galway with Detainment. The film is the story of two ten year-old boys who are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993.
IFTA award-winning actor John Connors moves behind the camera with documentary short Eden. Connors’ directorial debut covers themes of identity, marginalization in the context of the pressures felt in a globalized world by many small communities.
Actor Lydia McGuinness (Sing Street) turns writer and director, alongside Claire Byrne (Spent), for Her Name Is…, which follows a young woman making her way through an oppressive city in a final act of desperation. McGuinness also stars with Fionn Walton (Cardboard Gangsters) and Kieran O’Reilly (Love/Hate).
Another documentary to watch out for is Sean Mullan’s Inhale, a film exploring the infinite momentum of life via an energy never destroyed, only transformed. Through horses, a man feels an irrepressible duty to move in harmony with his pain.
Irish filmmaker Shaun O’Connor (Uisce Beatha)’s latest is Mary, written by Jonathan Hughes. A scandal erupts in the small village of Ballymullan when eight-year-old Charlie O’Connor, in a moment of blind rage, destroys the town’s beloved Virgin Mary statue. Wracked with guilt and shame, he does the only thing any of us would do in such a situation; he frames his bully of an older brother Finbarr. The local media has a field day and Charlie revels in his brother finally getting his comeuppance.Mary is not just the story of a town’s broken statue and the witch-hunt that ensues, it’s a story of brothers, owning up to your responsibilities and becoming an idol yourself. The film is produced by Sharon Cronin, with Eimear Ennis Graham as DoP, and stars Luke O’Donoghue and Lee O’Donoghue.
Northern Irish writer/director Stacey Gregg brings her Northern Ireland Screen-backed short Mercy. The film produced by Brian J. Falconer and Chris Myers of Out of Orbit.
Director Natasha Waugh and writer Jonathan Hughes will bring their latest short Mother to the Fleadh. Hardworking mam Grace has the perfect happy family; a loving husband and two wonderful children. But when her husband arrives home one day with a brand new kitchen appliance, she slowly starts to realize that there might not be room for both of them in this house. Mother is a quirky, surrealist, mostly silent comedy that will lead you to question, just how necessary are you to the ones you love? The film is produced by Sharon Cronin, with Eimear Ennis Graham as DoP, and stars Hilary Rose (The Young Offenders) and Lochlann O Mearain (Love and Friendship).
Mia Mullarkey’s Mother & Baby will be a must-see having won Best Short Documentary at the Cork Film Festival last November. The film explores the memories of Mother and Baby Home survivors who were sold or fostered out by the Irish church and state if their mothers conceived them out of wedlock.
Norther Irish writer/director Helen Warner’s Stigma is a experimental fable based on a string of confessions that unveil a tale of religious guilt, sin and redemption.
Meanwhile Patrick Myles’ The Overcoat is a darkly comic, live action short film about a man who, in a desperate attempt for popularity and social acceptance, spends all his money on a brand new overcoat. It is based on Gogol’s original tragicomic fairytale. A strong cast includes Jason Watkins, Tim Key, Vicki Pepperdine, Alex Macqueen, and Dominic Coleman,
Narrated by renowned Italian actor Leo Gullotta, The Red Tree is a short documentary that tells the little known history of Italian gay men being arrested and exiled to a remote prison island during Mussolini’s Fascist regime. In the film, an elderly man returns to the island of San Domino where many years before during the Fascist era he was imprisoned with hundreds of other men for being homosexual. The film is edited and directed by Paul Rowley, with Nicky Gogan and Rowley producing for Still Films.
Irish animator, puppeteer, lecturer and director, Patrick O’Mahony brings his short Under the Weather to Galway. During a seemingly normal day Ed discovers a secret room, a crazy old man and a conspiracy that sets him on course for a life changing decision.