Galway Film Fleadh: A Unique Insight into Irish Culture
I just stepped out of Galway Town Hall and into the rain after a day of local films. I feel that in two days I’ve learned more about Irish culture than in the previous week and a half. (That’s what happens when you slow down and travel slow!) Each film showed just a sneak peek into a subculture of Irish life and history, which was just the peek I was hoping for…
New Shorts: Modern Irish Films
These stunned me.
I can’t say enough about how powerful this collection of films really was. Bravo, to the curator! Also, I want to shout out to my friend Justin Davey, a director of ‘Adulting’, a film about a girl who finds herself lost in life. (See preview above) She is left wondering if being content with a quiet life in rural Ireland, one deemed unworthy by others, is enough for her. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side as it turns out, especially in Ireland! 😉 These films ranged from stories about a boy who learns friendship is more lasting than young love, to a white-haired lady awaiting her estranged husband in the hotel they once honeymooned. They were gripping, real, and fantastic.
Handball in rural Ireland
Film: Under Open Skies
Director: Ben Jones
Years ago, handball was HUGE in Ireland. Who knew? This film shares the local perspective of why now about 90% of handball courts across the island are derelict, destroyed, and abandoned.
When Ireland was a poorer nation any available wall became a handball court, whether the side of a church, pub, or castle. Cars would almost never pass through villages at that time, making streets into open playing fields! Handball was everyone’s favorite pastime (men only in a time before women played sports, of course). Men would squeeze in as many games as they could before and after their day’s work. They’d gamble, making games all the more tempting and competitive in tougher and tougher times. Handball was a force holding people together when there wasn’t much else to look forward to. And so as times changed, people didn’t need handball anymore. Indoor facilities popped up as a modern alternative where rain and bloody knees weren’t obstacles, however there is a small movement of people trying to revive the handball scene in Ireland. I say, bring it back!
Galway Street Club: An unexpected collection of buskers
Film: Galway Street Club
Director: Daniel Coogan
On my first stroll through Galway I didn’t know it but I was watching an exciting new collective of buskers whose story is totally new. They all came to Galway separately, living off the tips they made from their music in the streets.
Galway is a special place, and the heart of culture and arts in Ireland (though I’m sure Dubliners would have something to say about that).
Just in February of this year these musicians got to know each other and started to play together as a group. Their energy is insane and you can’t help but notice. You can see and feel their passion through their music. For the 11+ musicians from all over the world that make the Galway Street Club, they’re just “havin’ a craic” but their positive energy and happiness shines and is a cut above the rest.
Throughout the film they share how this experience has transformed them,
“It’s the best experience I’ve ever had as a musician so far.”
“It’s great! I love it. I don’t want to do anything else.”
“We are a family.”
A Black and White Glimpse of Galway
Though silent, black and white films aren’t the first to attract me, I was excited to see what the IFI was presenting as “local films for local people” (even if I’m not a local).
It’s always a challenge to get to know a place that is so commercialized and well visited, by domestic and international tourists alike, so this seemed to be a perfect opportunity to get to know Galway on a deeper level. And it was.
Though I admittedly snoozed through most of the first short film, a series of landscape shots in black and white from County Galway, the rest was quite interesting. A trend I’ve noticed across Ireland is that certain elements of Irish culture seem to become ‘endangered.’ A few of the shorts featured local people demonstrating the process of a particular dying craft. Do you know how to make a donkey harness out of rope? …or how to cook potato flour pancakes the traditional Irish way? Another in the series interviewed Irish children involved in an ‘exchange’ program to learn and improve their Gaelic, a language that has been slowly dying for generations.
Want to watch some Irish films of your own?!
Follow the IFI’s Facebook page for updates on up coming films and on films being screened daily at their Dublin cinema location