Fleadh harvests Irish film bounty

'My Brothers' leads Eire-focused lineup

The Galway Film Fleadh has always been a launchpad for new Irish films, but this year proves to be the most Gaelic of them all.

In spite of financial cuts in its 22nd year (the fest shaved €50,000 off its budget, leaving it with an undisclosed but “much reduced” figure), the fest is focusing on what it does best: springboarding Irish talent to festivals around the world.

This year it will showcase 18 Irish features, eight of which are world preems, leading with opening night’s “My Brothers.” Pic is penned by William Collins, who won the fest’s Pitching Competition prize in 2007.

“To have a pitching-award film at the Fleadh really excites me,” says Miriam Allen, managing director of the fest. “To see a film that has gone full circle from inception at the festival to premiering here on the bigscreen really cements what Galway is all about.”

Allen notes that this year’s fest has a higher volume of Irish fare than previous years but says this is due to the luck of the draw and increased production in the region.

“Production has no doubt gone up,” she says. “There are normally around eight Irish films (in the fest), but this year we’ve been lucky with timing. We seem to have nearly every Irish film that has been made in the last year, and we’re really pleased with this.”

This year the fest will pay tribute to 76-year-old Lelia Doolan, a powerhouse of Irish cinema and one of the founders of the festival. Doolan, who spearheaded the Fleadh in 1989 before bringing on board Allen, Joe McMahon and Bob Quinn, has worked as chair of the Irish Film Board in addition to heading the Galway Film Center and the region’s preeminent arthouse cinema Picture Palace. She will receive one of the fest’s Galway Hooker Awards.

“She’s a fascinating woman, and this year it’s time to pay tribute to her,” says Allen.

She adds that the ever-expanding festival looks set to surpass last year’s 12,000 admissions already.

“Galway reflects the intimacy of Irish culture, which is very important to us,” says Allen. “This year we’ve tried very hard to hold on to that, and I think we’ve succeeded.”

Time for real deal
Fair connects filmmakers, producers and exex in meeting marathon

The Galway Film Fair is set in the heart of the festival and offers filmmakers with projects in development the chance to meet financiers, producers and distribs from around the globe.

The Fair, which runs from July 8-10, is dubbed one of the biggest markets in the U.K. and Ireland and will stage more than 500 meetings between representatives from the U.S. and Europe. The roster this year includes Magnolia Pictures’ Peter van Steemburg, Paramount’s Alex Mandell, Wild Bunch’s Rita Dagher, Bankside Films’ Stephen Kelliher, Independent’s Bingham Ray, Pathe’s Louis Tisne and the Weinstein Co.’s Lucas Webb.

Representatives from a slew of festivals including Cannes, Sundance and Tribeca will also lend their expertise to the Fair.

In addition to the market, there is the Real Deal roundtable discussion, sponsored by the Irish Film Board and French-based training program ACE. At the event, members of the film industry debate various aspects of independent filmmaking, including production, financing, distribution and digital technologies. This year’s debate focuses on content under the title “What’s Your Story? And Why?” and participants will get the chance to discuss the types of films they choose to make and the reasons for their choices.

“It’s such a great way to get filmmakers talking and engaging with each other,” says Miriam Allen, the fest’s managing director. “People really get a chance to tell their story to others in terms of what works best for them and what doesn’t.”

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