by Rose Rushe
FIVE film festivals in the year for one modest city is indicative of the wealth of relevant talent and interest that is alive, well and making whoopie amongst us.
Fresh Film (u18s) opens the annual scene in March, followed by Limerick (formerly LIT) Film Festival in April. Then Alliance Francaise staged a Tres Court showing of short-Shorts at 69 O’Connell Street in May. Richard Harris International Film Festival made a canny move from December to October weekend and Limerick City of Culture funded Screendance over three days in November, operating out of UL, Dance Limerick and No. 69.
All the time the focus is on Limerick as platform for actors, performers and crew with an indigenous skillset. There is our helpful proximity to a transatlantic airport and serious audience interest.
Factor in the €15,000 films to be made under the umbrella of Film Limerick and Behind the Scenes in Spring 2015, ‘The Clockmaker’s Doll’ and ‘Lost and Found’. Then there are three short ‘training’ films funded to another €10,000 by City of Culture, hopefully ready for screening in the April festival.
Yup, folks, there’s a lot going on at the doorstep.
Feel not the idea that this is a crowded festival market, advises one who knows. Simon McGuire, who is programme co-ordinator for Audio and Video (8) at LIT, set up Limerick Film Festival six years ago. “It was an idea born out of students asking ‘what happens to our work now?’ I realised there was nothing for them to put out their work”.
That changed: see http://limerickfilmfestival.net/short-film-awards/live-show/
“The more festivals there are nationally and locally, the more interest is created in Limerick. We have a vibrant film industry here as well, although not promoted as much in the past”.
McGuire continues to work in the industry. He makes the point that the free workshops and talks held in LIT with the Oscar-styled competition and awards are about bringing in the best experience and their industry insights: Pat Shortt, who addressed the role of producer and business broker; Leila Doolan; Pat Comer, who worked on ‘Des Bishop: Breaking China’. Rob Crawley, the writer of hit drama ‘Amber’; Nathan Nugent was editor and director on the Ronan O’Gara documentary covering four years, ‘ROG’. All have shared on campus.
“In our first year we had 34 entrants. In 2014 we had 130. Film entries for 2015 [March 6th deadline] so far have come from Portugal, the UK, Iran”.
LIT views everything submitted, compiles shortlists of five per category and it’s on to a changing panel of five to six judges, never staff. Judges vet two award categories each.
“I have not waivered my focus on the actual craft of film making, be that lighting, editing, camera work. We present one best actor award also which can go to a man or a woman”.
Finally, Simon McGuire makes the point that the people behind each festival help each other’s cause and he himself is a volunteer editor on the three-films project.
Anyone wishing to learn more or consider training or volunteering for Limerick’s film festivals can refer to the Behind the Scenes network that meets in Dolan’s Bar, usually on the last Monday of each month.
There is also actor/ director Kevin Kiely’s free screenings at The Red Hen, Patrick St, http://behindthescenes.ie/index.php/category/movies-at-the-mezz/