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Galway Film Fleadh is a Must for Moviegoers

One of Ireland’s most important festivals for cinephiles, the Galway Film Fleadh returns from Tuesday, July 9 to Sunday, July 14.

This year, the international festival will host over 100 movie screenings, alongside Q&A sessions, panel discussions and related events. As usual, it will provide a platform for audiences to see some of the boldest new films from around the world and share in the wonder of cinema.

One of the biggest titles to screen at the festival this year is its closer – Irish Western Never Grow Old, starring John Cusack and Emile Hirsch. Set in the infamous California trail during the 1849 gold rush – although shot in Connemara – it centres on Patrick Tate (Hirsch), an Irish undertaker who profits when outlaws (led by Cusack) take over a peaceful American frontier town. However, as the death toll rises, his family eventually becomes under threat.

The festival will also host the world premiere of Irish documentary Jihad Jane. The film tells the story of two women who went looking for love online and became the new face in the war on terror.

Starring Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) and Holiday Grainger (The Borgias), Dublin-set comedy-drama Animals (pictured above) will be shown at the Fleadh. Adapted from Emma Jane Unsworth’s 2014 novel of the same name, it centres on two female best friends and party lovers whose lifestyle comes under scrutiny after one of them becomes engaged to a teetotaller.

There’s also two-parter A Bread Factory, Part One and A Bread Factory, Part Two. Starring Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey) and James Marsters (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer), the movies follow Dorothea and Greta who 40 years ago transformed an abandoned bread factory in the sleepy town of Checkford into a vibrant arts space. It quickly became the heart of their local community, showcasing theatre, dance, music and film.

Suddenly their very existence is threatened as a suspicious big business celebrity couple with questionable motivations move into town and construct an enormous competitive arts venue, sucking up funding and audiences overnight. Four-time Emmy winner Daly will attend the Fleadh to present the double bill.

Another person visiting the festival is writer-director Gurinder Chadha. The Fleadh will screen her new film Blinded by the Light. A coming-of-age drama set in Thatcherite Britain, it’s about a British teen of Pakistani descent who upon discovering the music of Bruce Springsteen discovers a cathartic outlet for his own pent-up dreams and the courage to express himself.

Based on the life of Sarfraz Manzoor, who co-wrote the script, big name actors like Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) support a young, talented, multi-ethnic cast. As well as screening the movie, the Fleadh will be hosting a directors masterclass with Chadha.

There will also be an acting masterclass with Will Forte, former Saturday Night Live cast member and star of Booksmart, MacGruber and Nebraska. He is visiting the festival to promote his latest film Extra Ordinary, a comedy about a driving instructor who must use their supernatural gifts to save a lonely parent’s daughter from an aging rock star hoping to use her for satanic sacrifice.

Also receiving their European premieres at Galway are dramas Adam and Driveways, both produced by former CEO of Focus Features, James Schamus. The producer will be in attendance to deliver the keynote address at the Fleadh Forum, the festival’s state-of-the-industry discussion platform.

He will also be the recipient of the Fleadh’s highest honour, the Galway Hooker Award for Outstanding Achievement. As well as a producer, Schamus is acclaimed for his collaborations with director Ang Lee, writing The Ice Storm, Hulk and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Meanwhile, in 2016, he made his directorial debut, bringing Philip Roth’s novel Indignation to the screen.

This year the Fleadh will also honour French New Wave pioneer Agnès Varda, who passed away earlier in 2019. The festival will screen five of her legendary films alongside her latest. These include her masterpiece Cléo de 5 à 7, a classic capturing Paris at the height of the 60s focusing on a singer whose life is in turmoil.

L’une chante l’autre pas traces the intertwined lives of two women during the struggle of the 1970’s French women’s movement, with which Varda was personally involved. Vagabond includes an unforgettable performance from Sandrine Bonnaire as the free-spirited titular figure who wanders through the Languedoc-Roussillon wine country one winter.

The Gleaners & I features interviews by Varda with all types of gleaners in France, from those picking fields after the harvest to those scouring the dumpsters of Paris. La Pointe Courte is Agnès Varda’s directorial debut which the festival say remains as fresh and original as the day it was made. It will screen before Varda par Agnès, the filmmaker’s last movie, completed just before her death. Here she sheds light on her experience as a director, bringing personal insight to what she calls, ‘cine-writing’, travelling from Rue Daguerre in Paris to Los Angeles and Beijing.

Information and tickets for the Galway Film Fleadh’s events can be found at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com.

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