27 March 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Lelia Doolan to be honoured at Galway City of Film Five-Year Celebration
26 Nov 2019 : Nathan Griffin
Galway City of Film celebrates 5 years.
Galway City of Film will celebrate its 5th anniversary since it received UNESCO City of Film recognition with a special day of film events in Galway City, culminating with the presentation of the Galway City of Film award to Lelia Doolan.

In 2014, Galway became the fifth city in the world to achieve the status of UNESCO City of Film, in recognition of the rich history and vibrant culture of filmmaking that continues in the city and county to this day.

“As of 2019, there are now 246 cities included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, of which 18 are film,” said Alan Duggan, Manager of Galway Film Centre. “When Galway was designated back in 2014, we were the 5th city in the world to be designated, which was a huge honour for the city as a massive amount of work went into achieving the designation.”

Launched in 2014 by Uachtaráin Michael D. Higgins, Galway City of Film has offered valuable supports and resources to the filmmaking community in the city over the last five years that otherwise would not have been possible. Highlights include organising camps for young animators, hosting the One Minute Film Festival and 48 Hour Challenge, supporting short film funding schemes through Galway Film Centre such as Science on Screen and the RTE Short Film Scheme, Galway City of Film has improved resources for anybody interested in making films in Galway.

What are the benefits of Galway being an UNESCO designated city?

“A big part of being a UNESCO designated city is that we participate in the network. There is a meeting annually where we meet representatives from all of the other designated cities; particularly members of each of the sub-networks, which is Film in our case. We would meet at least twice a year and look for ways to work together, be it how we approach particular problems or how we might do research together, try to facilitate co-productions, hosting screenings of each other’s films in different cities, and having people travel to each other’s festivals where appropriate. It is essentially trying to give people in Galway the opportunity to access opportunities that might come up in the other designated cities.”

In a happy coincidence, this year also marks 30 years since the founding of the Galway Film Centre. With a number of short films, camps, community-led documentaries and other schemes under its belt, Galway Film Centre’s fingerprints can be found on a number of projects across Galway.

With the confluence of these two events comes a unique opportunity to present our Galway UNESCO ‘City of Film/Ceantar Scannán’ Award to local film producer Lelia Doolan.

What can you tell me about plans for the Five-Year Celebration?

“The event on Thursday will be kicking off with an exhibition from Martin Maguire, who is a local photographer who does a lot of the publicity stills for most of the productions in the West of Ireland. He has done a lot of the behind-the-scenes visual archive and has put together an exhibition on the archetypes of film, which we will be showing in Pálás throughout the day and in the evening.

“The exhibition will be followed by a screening of Cumar: A Galway Rhapsody, which is the Ildána film from MagaMedia and recent winner of Best Documentary at the Irish Film Festival London. Then the evening will be culminating in the presentation of the Galway City of Film Award to Lelia Doolan for her lifetime of contribution to film, not just locally in Galway, but nationally as well.”

 For those that don’t know Lelia – how would you describe her contribution to film in Galway?

“Lelia is a whirlwind and a bundle of energy; she has been involved in film for decades with her career spanning back to when she was a producer. She did Reefer and the Model by Joe Comerford, but she has been influential across so many different areas. Any significant developments that have happened in relation to film in the west of Ireland over the last 30/40 years, Lelia has been involved in some shape or another. That would include both ourselves in the Galway Film Centre and the Galway City of Film. She was involved on our board and she was heavily involved in the bidding for the UNESCO designation.

“As you probably know she was previously the Artist Director for the Abbey and the Chair of the Irish Film Board for a number of years, even to the point that, were you to speak to the President, he would know her on a first-name basis and they would be fond friends. She has been so influential across so many different areas and as you say, there is no one more deserving.”

The award will be presented to Lelia Doolan on Thursday 28th of November at a special evening in the Pálás, followed by a screening of Cumar: A Galway Rhapsody.

Click here for more about the event and support being offered to filmmakers.

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