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Online Exclusive: Galway Film Fleadh moves 32nd edition online
11 May 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Galway Film Fleadh
The Galway Film Fleadh has made the decision to present its 2020 festival edition online from July 7th-12th.

This decision comes following the announcement from the government that cinemas will remain closed until August 10th and large gatherings will not be allowed for some time.

In an effort to stay true to the Fleadh’s mission to bring audiences and film artists together to celebrate cinema, the festival has partnered with a leading streaming service to provide a seamless, secure and easy-to-use online experience so that the 2020 Galway Film Fleadh remains an unmissable event in the national and international film calendar.

The Film Fleadh programme will continue to be a diverse mix of features, documentaries, animations, shorts, and interactive cinema events, albeit on a smaller scale than the physical festival. “Moving the Fleadh online doesn’t mean replicating the event in a digital space but reimagining it to be the best online experience possible,” said the Fleadh’s Programme Director Will Fitzgerald. “There will be a reduced, more focused programme because we don’t want to split audience attention when we don’t have a physical event space keeping us all together. We want to give every film their moment in the spotlight and make every selected film part of a united conversation.”

Smaller Programme
“Audiences can expect a healthy mix of Irish and International features and shorts, as usual. But instead of having four films playing at any one time like at the physical Fleadh, we want to focus audience participation on one film at a time so you still get the feeling of, “we’re all in this together,” continued Fitzgerald. “Unlike what some other festivals who have gone online have done, our plan is to ‘premiere’ films at specific times, so we have to come together to  watch them. As for the content of the programme, obviously the pandemic has hit the industry hard and a lot of films that were aiming to be finished in time for Galway, sadly won’t make it over the line in time. So there’ll be less World Premieres this year but we’re making more room for films that may have premiered previously, whose distribution plans have been disrupted by the lockdown. We think audiences will be well served.”

“Coming Together” will be a key theme of this year’s festival, with twelve guest curators from festivals across Europe contributing to the event. “The epitome of this will be the launch of our Peripheral Visions project, presented with Galway 2020. We’ve been building a network of European festivals ‘on the periphery’ of Europe to develop common positions and shape perspectives on key issues among its members,” said Fitzgerald.

“By sharing information, experiences and strategies, we can present a stronger voice in Europe. We started off with fourteen festivals, a number chosen to reflect the fourteen tribes of Galway. And membership will increase over time. And as always, the Fleadh will be a hub for the entire Irish industry to come together. Platforms like the Fleadh Forum will be brought online so that our annual ‘state of the union’ can be used to offer insight and shared strategies for all of us to move on from this time, together.”

The Fleadh’s short film programme will continue to drive the discovery of new talent and springboard new voices towards international recognition and Oscar® consideration. With regard to the Short Film Programmes, the Festival has clarified that its winning Best Short Film Live Action and Best Short Animation will go straight on to the long list as per previous years. To give all hopeful filmmakers the best possible shot at this accolade, the Deadline for Short Film Submissions has been extended to Friday 22nd May. 

Peripheral Visions
Galway 2020 and Galway Film Fleadh will also present  the official launch of Peripheral Visions, which will form a competition programme of films in its 2020 line-up. “The artistic directors from each member festival will present a film from their own programmes to compete. And so we’ll have Irish premieres of new films from The Netherlands (Nooredelijk Film Festival), Luxembourg (Luxembourg City Film Festival), Spain (Gijon Film Festival), Greece (Athens International Film Festival), Northern Ireland (Belfast Film Festival), Germany (Hamburg Film Festival), Finland (Midnight Sun Film Festival), Iceland (Reykjavik International Film Festival), France (International Film Festival of Bordeaux), Switzerland (Geneva Film Festival) and Poland (Cameraimage), as well as Canada (Festival de Films Cinemania).”

It wouldn’t be a Fleadh without Galway’s signature social touch however, and the festival’s online edition will feature live-streamed filmmaker Q+A’s, audience participation via social media and conferencing software such as Zoom, as well as live-streamed masterclasses, panel discussions, the Fleadh’s industry meetings, and maybe even a virtual Rowing Club during social hours. The ‘virtual Rowing Club’ is just the catch-all term for the many social aspects we’re building into the online Fleadh,” explained Fitzgerald. “Everything from online discussion, live music, online cocktail hours, formal Fridays and everything in between. As many parts of the festivals that can be live, will be live. And if any of these things can be live from the Rowing Club, all the better!”

Geo Blocking
Films can be streamed via the Film Fleadh website, to audience members’ preferred devices including Smart TVs, laptops, phones and tablets. As a further security measure, and to preserve something of the national flavour of the Galway Film Fleadh, films will be geo-locked to an Irish audience, with a limited amount of tickets sold. “Geo-blocking is key to supporting the selected films and filmmakers. And this is all about supporting filmmakers at the end of the day,” said Fitzgerald. “By keeping the festival within the confines of the island of Ireland and limiting ticket sales, we aren’t impinging on these films’ future prospects after the Fleadh. By not crossing borders, we aren’t asking for any territorial rights other than would be required by the physical festival.”

By participating online, audiences will take part in the Galway Film Fleadh from all corners of the island of Ireland. The Fleadh’s ambition is to make the films and its filmmakers’ part of a national conversation for each day of the festival.

The Galway Film Fleadh is supported by the Arts Council, Galway 2020, Screen Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and Greasán Na Meán.

The Galway Film Fleadh will take place online from July 7th at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com.

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