Inaugural international event attracts stars and crowds
There were plenty of bums on seats as the inaugural Boyne Valley International Film Festival rolled out the red carpet last weekend and was a box-office success.
The two day event, held in the Droichead Arts Centre and various other locations in town, featured the best short films from around the country, and from around the globe, with a special focus on films made in the region.
"This was long-time in the planning, and I have to say it went better than we could have ever hoped for,” says local film director Frank Kelly, who was one of the chief organisers and Creative Director of the festival.
"The first night was completely sold out, and there was a lovely warm vibe in the room, which set the stage for the whole weekend, with people encouraged to share their ideas and learn from some of the best in the business.”
With a bursary available for budding filmmakers and advice from people like Frank, whose book “8 Simple Steps to Making Your Short Film” was the subject of a workshop, it’s hoped that attendees this year will enter the festival next year.
"We all have phones in our pockets that have incredible technology and are capable of filming high quality short movies – I am proof that it’s possible – so aspiring movie-makers have no excuses,” he said. “We are hoping to have inspired local talent to come back next year and showcase their work.”
Closing the festival on Saturday evening was a panel discussion entitled ‘Inclusion in film making in Ireland’, faciliated by Sinéad Brassil (LMFM).
The panel explored and discussed inclusion in film making in Ireland with an all-star panel including Derek Ugochukwu (BAFTA nominated and VMDIFF winning writer), actor/writer Mark O'Halloran (The Virtues, Garage), casting director Louise Kiely (Normal People, Conversations With Friends), film maker Roisin Kearney (Paddy, Run) and actor Ger Ryan (Amongst Women, Colder).
"We were delighted to welcome such influential people, and it was amazing to see an actor like Ger Ryan stay all weekend, and join in many of the events,” said Frank. “One of the highlights for me was hearing people say how lovely Drogheda is, and those who were visiting for the first time exploring what it had to offer, and venturing further into the Boyne Valley to Newgrange, Dowth and Cooley.”
There were a feast of films to enjoy too with screenings a selection of shorts made in the region by filmmakers including Darren Thornton, JJ Harrington, Martin O’Donoghue, Colm Sexton and Joe Rooney, Leah Rossiter, and Bill Murphy and Frank W. Kelly, as well as screening films by young emerging film makers.
Funded by the Arts Council, Meath County Council Arts Office, Louth County Council and in partnership with LOVE Drogheda BIDS Droichead Director Collette Farrell also agreed the weekend went better than expected.
“We were delighted to finally launch BVIFF, which had been in the planning for a while, but was interrupted due to COVID,” she said. “We have such a range of film talent in this region, combined with the heritage and history and it was fantastic to showcase it all during the Festival.”
The festival also invited film makers to pitch a short film idea by email. Three film makers were shortlisted, awarded a small bursary of €500, and invited to pitch to a panel during the festival. One lucky film maker was chosen, and further awarded a bursary of €2,500 to write the script, plus a studio space for six months in Droichead Arts Centre, Barlow House.
Over the last 20 years Frank has made 15 films, many of which travelled to film festivals around the world, won awards and sold to national broadcasters.
He is currently the Filmmaker in Residence in the Droichead and is in active development on several new projects, including "A Quiet One" a new short film that will begin production in the Autumn.
Frank also has a podcast The Gaps, which talks about tailoring his dreams to suit his life.
"This was just the first festival, and we are hoping to build on this year on year and throw it out out further into the Boyne Valley and beyond,” says Frank.
“We will prove the Boyne Valley International Film Festival is a force to be reckoned with.”