film festival tourism

Galway

The Galway Film Fleadh

A low-key festival (or Fleadh in Gaelic) held in an attractive setting. Not a destination festival but rather one that makes a handy stopping-off place during a tour of Ireland.

Festival Website: http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/

Timing: Five days in mid-July

Dates for 2009: July 7-12

Programming

The fest features a program of new Irish films and a well-chosen selection of recent international fare (mostly European titles) culled from the festival circuit.

Cathy Bates 2007

Cathy Bates 2006

Peter O'Toole 2008

Special Guests: A few, mostly Irish (e.g. Peter O’Toole in 2008).

Audience:

Mostly locals with a considerable youth factor.

Screening Venues

The Town Hall Theater was designed for live performances but serves well enough for movies. The festival’s other main venue, the Omniplex, is a clean, standard-issue multiplex outside of the historic center but within easy walking distance from the Town Hall. The fest’s third venue, the CineMobile, is housed in an ingenious pop-out trailer contraption parked next to the Town Hall Theater. There are also free outdoor screenings, as has come to be a commonplace feature of almost all festivals. These are held in Eyre (Kennedy) Square at the center of town, but the conditions won’t satisfy anyone seriously interested in the films shown. No seating is provided.

Screening Schedule

Screenings begin in mid-morning and continue into the evening on three screens. The last screenings begin at 10.45.

Tickets

Tickets are inexpensive (61/2 euros to 9 euros) and can easily be purchased at the last minute (except, possibly, for opening and closing nights).

Program Notes:

The festival puts out a glossy program book with ample descriptions of all movies.

2008 Galway program cover

Fest Website: http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/

Surroundings

Galway is an attractive city set on a famously beautiful bay. The town’s historic core has been largely converted to pedestrian thoroughfares, which make exploring easy and fun. The central areas are filled with young people, both tourists and students from the local university. The weather is usually temperate (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit), but drizzle and mist are common.

Accommodations

I stayed at the Forster Court Hotel, a comfortable three-star property with good breakfasts and an accommodating staff. It was an easy fifteen minute walk to both major festival venues. Forster Street, Galway. +353 91 564111 http://www.forstercourthotel.com/

Restaurants

The town is full of them. These are a few I visited in the vicinity of the theaters.

Kirnan’s Lane Restaurant. Elegant and expensive. Kirnan Lane, Galway (091) 568266

Nimmos. Good food in a scenic setting. Spanish Arch, Long Walk, Galway (091) 561 114  http://www.nimmos.ie/

McSwiggins. A local favorite. 3 Eyre Street, Wood Quay, Galway. (091) 568 917 http://www.mcswiggans.com/index.html

Excursions

Yeats’s house and Lady Gregory’s estate

The Cliffs of Moher

Mood Movies Films set in and around Galway you might want to watch before you go.

The Quiet Man An updated Taming of the Shrew set in neighboring county Clare. Irish-American director John Ford (née Feeney) makes the most of Western Ireland’s picturesque settings and a fiery performance by Irish-born actor Maureen O’Hara. (1950)

The Field. Jim Sheridan adapted John B. Keane’s searing drama about the vast changes Ireland is facing in the modern era in relation to its verdant landscape. Richard Harris got a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his bravura turn as the farmer who gets left behind in the new order (1990).

The Boys and Girl of County Clare. A modest little film filled with rollicking Irish music and ravishing local scenery (2003).

The Festival Year by Year

2008

Best Film

The Edge of Heaven. German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin has crafted an engrossing hyperlinked plot tracing the fortunes of a group of people as they travel back and forth between Turkey and Germany and deal with the deaths of those near to them.

Unexpected Pleasure

The feisty, talented women in the Brazilian biopic Antonia.

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