After a year in which Ireland’s major cinematic talking points have come in the form of Martin McDonagh’s sumptuous all-star tragicomedy The Banshees of Inisherin and local-language arthouse smash The Quiet Girlit was perhaps time for something a touch sillier to take center stage.
Apocalypse Clown — an insane comedy in which a troupe of washed-up and failed clowns chaotically traverse Ireland after the world is plunged into anarchy following a blackout — has won the top prize at the 35th annual Galway Film Fleadh on the west coast of the country. The film, the directorial scripted debut of George Kane and written by Kane alongside Demian Fox, Shane O’Brien and James Walmsley, was named best Irish film on Sunday night at an awards ceremony that took place before the festival’s closing film, the Cyndi Lauper doc Let the Canary Sing.
Apocalypse Clown had its world premiere in Galway on July 14 and will next screen at Fantasia Festival in Canada before releasing on Sept. 1 in Ireland (Wildcard Entertainment) and the UK (Vertigo Releasing).
Elsewhere, John Carlin’s drama Lie of the Land won the best Irish first feature honor, while The Grace Age – The Ballad of John Murray from writer/director Sarah Share was named best Irish documentary.
Meanwhile, Galway’s industry arm, the Film Fair, boasted its biggest year ever, with an expanded program of events at the Galmont Hotel. For its 27th edition, the event — seen as a transatlantic bridge between Europe and the US — included sessions on virtual reality and pitching for video games professionals for the first time.
The Fair’s key business-focused Marketplace saw around 700 pre-scheduled speed dating-style meetings take place between filmmakers with either completed films or projects in development and financiers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, funds and producers from around the world. Attendees included the likes of Neon, BBC Film, Film4, StudioCanal, the BFI, Bankside, Altitude, HanWay, DogWoof, Magnolia Pictures, Protagonist, WestEnd and XYZ.
The Film Fleadh found itself briefly in the eye of the SAG-AFTRA strike storm last week after it became the first festival to be impacted by the industrial action. With the strike called on the evening of July 13 local time, Matthew Modine, who had flown into the city for the world premiere of his film The Martini Shot — taking place after the crucial SAG-AFTRA vote and press conference — canceled a Q&A following the film, telling The News84Media he would be attending the screening, but simply “as a tourist going to watch a movie.”
The actor, who ran against SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher in the 2021 union leadership election in 2021, also posed with a banner expressing “solidarity” with the strike, and issued a lengthy statement — written while in Galway — in which he urged artists , filmmaker and industry professionals to “stand united” to create a “more just and inclusive landscape for generations to come.”
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