Galway bows fresh Eire

Festival showcases new Irish cinema

GALWAY — Two world premieres bookend the 12th Galway Film Fleadh, held July 11-16. Boasting a 60-feature program, this year’s fleadh, or festival, will open with Steve Barron’s “Rat” and close with Kevin Liddy’s long-awaited debut feature “Country.”

Maintaining its reputation as a showcase for new Irish cinema, fest will unspool feature debuts from Irish directors: Peter Sheridan’s biopic of Brendan Behan “The Borstal Boy,” Conor McPherson’s darkly comic “Saltwater” and Fintan Connolly’s gritty urban crime thriller “Flick.”

The fest’s theme this year is nature, and two of Patrick Carey’s films will be shown in a program that also includes Panos Karkanevatos’ “Earth and Water,” Majid Majidi’s “The Color of Paradise” and Terence Malick’s classic “Days of Heaven.”

A sidebar on new French cinema will also be featured and a mini-retrospective of the work of Yugoslav director Goran Paskaljevic will take place.

Fest also screens competitive programs of new Irish shorts, animation and docus; this year, a bumper crop of 58 shorts has been accepted.

Expected guests include Woody Harrelson, who will be in town for Ron Mann’s “Grass,” which he narrates.

Barbara Kopple’s “Conversations With Gregory Peck,” Frederick Wiseman’s “Belfast, Maine” and Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen’s “Benjamin Smoke” are among other North American docus programmed.

International features include the European premiere of Kevin Jordan’s “Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish,” Abbas Kiarostami’s “The Wind Will Carry Us,” Nora Hoppe’s “The Crossing” and Stephen Frears’ “High Fidelity.”

“The Future of the Creative Documentary” will be the subject of this year’s Fleadh debate, while the annual Fleadh Fair, the only film market in Ireland, will again run for the final three days of the festival.