Popcorn: The lowdown on Film Fleadh
We're doing something a little different this week -- a special report on the Galway Film Fleadh, which takes place from July 6 to 11. Established 20 years ago, the Fleadh has been a showcase and hothouse for emerging talent, an opportunity to catch beloved and obscure films (old and new) and, perhaps best of all, an opportunity to learn from celebrated actors and filmmakers.
Opening film was once a pitch in the Fleadh
In an inspiring narrative, the opening film began life as a pitch in the Fleadh in 2007. The pitching award, open for anyone to enter, requires a one-page pitch to a panel, and then possibly to a live audience. My Brothers, written by Will Collins, takes place over a Halloween weekend in 1987 and tells the story of three young brothers' odyssey to replace their dying father's watch.
Oscar winners, movie stars and Pixar animators to attend
Annette Bening will be the subject of a Fleadh tribute this year, and a number of her films will be shown during the week. Having won numerous awards for her breakthrough The Grifters, Bening went on to star in Bugsy, American Beauty and Richard III. Her forthcoming film, The Kids are Alright, co-stars Julianne Moore and will be receiving its Irish premiere at the Fleadh. Bening will be holding a public interview on Saturday.
This year's masterclass will be with Oscar-winning screenwriter Ron Harwood. Initially a playwright and novelist, Harwood has built a five-decade career behind the typewriter, penning the film adaptations of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, two Roman Polanski films -- Oliver Twist and The Pianist. The masterclass will take place on Wednesday.
The only studio to consistently make critically adored blockbusters, Pixar, is a gift to us all. Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3, has worked as a co-director on Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. Producer Darla K Anderson, who also worked on Toy Story 3, has worked on A Bug's Life and Monsters Inc.
Both will be attending the screening of Toy Story 3, one of the most acclaimed and successful films of the year so far.
There are dozens of films showing at the Fleadh, including many arthouse works that haven't been shown outside of Dublin. Of those, I'd recommend women-in-prison drama Lion's Den and British crime thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed (starring Gemma Arterton). Of the documentaries, Good Hair is a must-see (see below), We Live in Public (about the dotcom explosion) is fascinating and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work should be a hoot.
The Irish contingent is encouragingly well represented with (among others) thriller Na Cloigne, domestic drama Come on Eileen, The Looking Glass (featuring Patrick O'Donnell from The Fading Light) and Rewind, starring Amy Huberman.
The best of 2010 (so far)
The two best films of the year so far couldn't be more different, and both are playing in the Fleadh.
Good Hair is an informative and hilarious documentary about black American women's relationship with their hair. Presented and produced by Chris Rock, it examines the products, the hair weaves and the flamboyant hairdressing competitions.
Another bull's eye is A Prophet. The fabulous crime thriller from Jacques Audiard follows a young Muslim man's (Tahar Rahim, left) journey through a prison sentence. It's smart, thrilling stuff.