Film Hub goes west - part one
The 29th annual Galway Film Fleadh took place from 11th-16th July and Team Film Hub landed into town on the 13th for 48 hours of furious film watching, networking and enjoying all the spoils wonderful Galway City has to offer.
Sara, Hugh and Susan spent hours and hours in the screens, taking in a wide range of films. Their thoughts are below.
Columbus – this was an unknown quantity that ended being a completely unexpected treat and an absolute must-see for anyone interested in architecture. A low key indie drama about relationships between grown-up children and their parents the film is set in the architectural mecca of Columbus, Ohio and is one of the most beautifully composed films I have seen for a long time. It’s been compared to the work of Ozu and they’re not wrong. This is an elegant piece of film-making.
Insyriated – I’d heard this was an intense piece of work and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an absolutely gripping drama of a Syrian family living under siege in their war-torn city-centre flat, trying to keep up a semblance of normal life. Superb performances and an almost unbearably tense storyline make this a gripping, if disturbing, watch.
In The Name of Peace: John Hume in America - Maurice Fitzpatrick’s cinematic portrait of the Derry Politician who had an integral role in delivering a peaceful solution to Northern Ireland’s bloody conflict featured contributions from Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, John Major and Tony Blair, amongst others, and highlights Hume’s strategic work in the US. The film includes fascinating archive footage and gets to the heart of this determined, focussed and brilliant Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Spoor – an enjoyable oddity from renowned director Agnieszka Holland and part of a focus on Polish Cinema at the Fleadh. An eco-thriller based on a best-selling novel, the female lead is a retired hippy and animal rights activist who lives alone in the countryside and is increasingly outraged by the slaughter of local wildlife. The storyline tends to ramble and takes some very odd turns at points but it’s well acted and refreshing to see an older actress represented as a fully fleshed out character and a sexual being.
Indivisible – this sounded intriguing as a story but the reality was disappointing. A grotesquerie about two beautiful young girls who are talented singers and conjoined twins, the film had a slightly sleazy edge and a promising concept felt wasted.
Nocturne – a rather high-concept drama set entirely in an underground car-park this was an intriguing but slightly odd film about a set of strangers thrown together by circumstance. A UK/ Greece co-production, the mix of actors from both countries adds to an air of otherworldliness and unreality. An interesting but ultimately slight film.
Maudie – This impressive and emotional film is director Aisling Walsh’s biographical depiction of Maud Lewis, a fragile Canadian woman, plagued by ill-health and a protective (but often cruel) family, who ends up as a renowned folk artist – painting simple, colourful depictions of flowers, animals and landscapes that she sells from the tiny house she shared with her surly husband, Everett. The film is beautifully shot in a breath taking location, with wonderful performances from both Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke as the unlikely couple, and is deeply moving. This moved one Film Hubber to tears for sure.
A Ghost Story - This mumblecore release was apparently made for $100,000 and has caused a bit of buzz, due to the presence of Casey Affleck perhaps, but also to a clever marketing campaign. It’s a weird one, but worth it. Essentially it is the story of a couple who are preparing to move out of their home, one of whom dies and then begins to haunt the house they live in. But rather than a CGI Casper style ghost, this is simply a figure covered in a sheet. This is one of those films that appears to alienate the audience in order that they might earn the riches it delivers in spades about a third way in. Long difficult scenes at the beginning almost defy you to walk out. Stay, and what you are left with is a funny, moving and deeply philosophical rumination on time, grief, place and the nature of love. Very indie, very good.
I’m A Killer – another film In the Fleadh’s Polish strand this ‘70s set thriller about the real-life search for a notorious serial-killer is awash with bad hair, sideburns, flared trousers and brown roll-neck jumpers. I don’t think I’ve even seen a film with quite so much cigarette smoke drifting across every scene. Overall it’s an entertaining and well-constructed serial killer thriller.
God’s Own Country – Tagged rather crassly as a ‘British Brokeback Mountain’ this is an extraordinary film, made even more so when you realise that this comes from a first time director. The story of a Yorkshire hill-farm in decline, with a son struggling to come to terms with the fact that he has to shoulder the responsibility of the farm now his father is unwell. His frustration is relieved through binge drinking and casual sex. Into this scenario comes Gheorghe, an itinerant farm worker from Romania, whose responsible, soulful maturity transforms everything for everyone. This is a ground-breaking film, not just for its sexual standpoint, but also the sense that in the current political climate, we should cherish what we have, and celebrate the richness of life around us.